Customer Experience

Is your website customer focused?

I just had one of the better customer service experiences of recent memory. More than 25 years after my wedding (her ...

I just had one of the better customer service experiences of recent memory. More than 25 years after my wedding (her judgement in saying yes is still in question), I realized that the occasional dropped bowl or plate had depleted our everyday collection of dishes. Crate & Barrel long ago discontinued the line, so we turned to to see if they could get us just that – some replacements. Talk about great domain name selection.

About one week later the box arrived. I opened it, and the first bowl I unpacked was broken. I mentally steeled myself for going online, submitting pictures, filling out forms, perhaps even having to print a return label and shipping a broken bowl back.

Instead, here is how the interaction went.

  • Phone call to number on the receipt included in the order.
  • Me: “Hello, a bowl I had ordered from you arrived broken”
  • Replacements: “I’m sorry to hear that. Let me look into that. Was that an XXXX bowl?”
  • Me: “Yes”
  • Replacements: “I’ve ordered a replacement for you. You’ll receive a confirmation via email, which will show a charge for it, but that we are paying for it. Your replacement should arrive in about a week. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
  • Me: “No, thanks. You’ve been great.”

It was efficient and effective. The entire call took less than two minutes. Any costs of the replacement are certainly offset by both the larger overall order, a minimal amount of time for the customer support representative, and the customer (me) has gained for life.

Secondly, there’s an integration of data with process. The customer service person had my record in front of them based upon my caller ID. When I said “bowl”, they only had to confirm the name of the bowl. When I said “one”, they didn’t have to ask about how many bowls were broken. They knew not only my last order, but that it was scheduled for delivery.

This integration of data and process surrounding  the customer experience is critical to providing great, and measurable, customer service. This applies to business to business, business-to-channel, non-profit membership and fundraising,  and direct to consumer activities.

So we started thinking about how to consider the “customer centricity” of the online experience on any website. And while not perfect, we've a straw man approach based upon our experience. This closely aligns with customer journey mapping, but is a more simplified "discovery" piece.

Walk through your website experience as a user, thinking in terms of the entire customer journey from early awareness to repurchase and customer support. 

List your departments or functions that receive the data across the top. Then, as rows, fill out the forms and platforms. And below the platforms, where else does this data go?

An example for a small to midsize organization might be like this. 

Example of Website Forms Survey
  Marketing eCommerce Customer Service Other
Forms Lead GenNewsletter subscriptionEvent Registrations Account creation Purchase/Cart Support requestReturn authorizationProduct question Product registration"Contact Us"
Platform  Mailchimp Shopify Zendesk Access Database, Email to Outlook
Data sent to? None ERP None None


Your mileage may vary, but often you’ll find at least 4 platforms, often more once you add in your email program, spreadsheets, someone’s Access database of information squirreled away in Sharepoint, and just about  anywhere else.

    1. Marketing - where lead generation, newsletter subscriptions, and other early funnel "sign ups" go. 
    2. eCommerce - transactions happen here. And it's often not just ecommerce. If you use a 3rd party event registration platform, or a membership program, these often behave as ecommerce tools, managing a transaction, even if there is no fee. 
    3. Customer Service - Chat, help, questions, etc.
    4. A large "other" bucket, including investor information (often third party), vendor registration systems, career information, and more. 

Once you have this list, consider the user. What do they have to do, and how many platforms does go through? Who in your organization has a view on this flow, and is managing its performance? 

Today’s CRM platforms, from the most basic to high end platforms, promise to unify this experience. But doing so is ambitious, and takes a vision of how this unified data will be used. Creating a view of where things are today is a starting point. 

If your website customer experience is fragmented, odds are, your customer experience is as well.


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