If you sell online – test, test and re-test

Do you personally know what your customer experience is like? Don’t wait until you have a complaint, make it part of a schedule for you to randomly test your online sales process regularly (all the way through to fulfillment). Here is a good reason why…

I recently ordered a book online. I wanted it as a present for a friend and I needed in about 2 weeks. Given it wasn’t urgent, I visited one of the big name local bookshops online, found the book I wanted and ordered it online. The online process was smooth with no hiccups.

I received a confirmation email the day of my order (which incidentally was 19th March). The email was pretty to the point, it confirmed the order and advised that the product “usually ships in 10 days”. The email wasn’t very professional though with the from name of “Webloginau” and the from email address was nothing to do with the company I ordered from.

The main problem with my order however was that 3 weeks later I hadn’t received anything in the mail and had no more communication from the company I ordered from. I checked out their order tracking online and it simply said the status was “open”. So I called the help number on my original email. I was advised that the book I ordered had not yet come into stock so it hadn’t been delivered. However the lady discovered that one of their stores had the book so she followed up and sent me an email advising that it was being transferred and I should receive it soon. That was 11 days ago.

By now, the whole reason I ordered the book (for a friend’s gift) has long passed and my book still isn’t in sight. It would have been a lot quicker for me to visit my local book shop and pick up the book in person and I have received no benefit at all from ordering from a well known bricks and mortar retailer.
All that results from this experience is an unhappy client who has to follow up multiple times to get their ordered and paid for product.

The thing with a lot of these systems is that the experience can vary greatly depending on the setup of your website, your inventory management system and your client communication. It’s not enough to test it once and assume that every client has that experience as chances are there are multiple scenarios that your customers may encounter. There are two ways to combat this. One is to have a perfect system (which no one has) however having a good inventory management system will go a long way to ensuring that goods that aren’t available, can’t be ordered. The other way is to test it regularly using different combinations so you can cover off the multiple scenarios that your customers may see.

One Response to If you sell online – test, test and re-test

  1. That’s ridiculous, Louisa. Those who cannot provide consistently great customer service – be it at an individual or company level – will not survive. Such service oversights may have been excusable online at the turn of the century, but disrespecting and ignoring the customer is simply intolerable in our world.

    A guy called Umair Haque has a theory of an emerging culture known as an ‘edgeconomy’, which is characterised by cheap, ubiquitous interaction. A good summary of his points is here: http://edbrenegar.typepad.com/leading_questions/2007/11/quick-takes-edg.html

    Haque states that in an edgeconomy, an ethical (and thus, sustainable) business model should be built on Listen + Respect x Trust = Loyalty and Partnership.

    He’s got some great thoughts that are well worth your time.

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