Ben Babcock, Director of Research at Jet.com, has a long history in the retail space and provided some examples of how to use the discusses technology in the real world. Before Jet, he was conducting research and customer insight programs at Microsoft and Amazon.If you don’t know Jet, it’s a online marketing place where prices drop as you shop. Items that can fit into a box ship for less, you get rewarded for building bigger carts, and if you agree not to return an item, you can save a few bucks. Basically, they pass savings onto their customers in a very transparent way.
Babcock shared some of his insights from working at a startup. Start ups are hectic are hectic and there aren’t a lot of traffic signs telling you which way to go. Everyone is in survival mode. Larger organization have people with very specific jobs, really organized, and clear direction. But if a start up has a clear idea of their customer, directionlessness is easily overcome.With some investment, you can make knowing your customer a part of your everyday practice, no matter your size.
Assess Customer Insight At Your Organization
Here’s a quick test from our speaker to assess your team’s level of customer insightfulness. It’s a lofty goal for some, but at Jet, the goal is for everyone at their organization to be able to answer these things:
Who is our customer? The answers should be consistent and specific
What do they love/hate about us? The answers should be specific and prioritized
Last time you spoke with a customer? The answers should be recent (obviously)
How is your team improving customer experience? The answers should include metrics and projects
Where do you got to learn about customers? The answers should be a dedicated team and possibly a CX dashboard.
What You Can Do
There are a few things you can do, should the answers not be up to snuff. The goal should be to improve those answers and get everyone in the business aligned on what it’s like to be your customer.
Get your customer in the room. If not actually, at least do this figuratively; think Amazon’s practice of keeping an empty chair in the boardroom. It reminded of a Shoptalk panel on loyalty featuring Chubbies, Cotopaxi, and REVOLVE. For their most loyal customers, Chubbies developed an ambassador program that allows them to interact daily in a private Facebook group. Meanwhile, Cotopaxi was founded in a cabin and the recruitment strategy was deliberately created so that employees share the same values and needs as their customers. You can read more at the top of that recap.
Visit your customer service team. Ask your customer service team to play back calls that feature pain points or moments of delight.
Perform field studies. Get out there and give people some gift cards for testing out your site or app. Babcock’s personal favorite is to hop on a ferry and get some one on one interactions with people as they are commuting to work. But make sure you don’t hit them where they feel trapped, eg. don’t corner someone on plane or a train.
Perform in person studies. Jet’s research team brings in customers in every Tuesday and Thursday. They even use eye tracking in house. However, they’re not instructed to shop only on Jet. They want to see how their customer shop. That means bouncing between other sites like Amazon to compare prices to give a fuller picture of the shopping experience.
Perform remote testing. Babcock likes remote testing because it is fast, easy and customer can test from the comfort of their own home. You can hears kids clattering in the background, cats walking across the keyboard, and witness your experience with all the other interruptions of real life. Remote testing, through Usertesting.com, is a tool often used by Blue Acorn to validate design decisions and to understand what isn’t working on a current site. Essentially, you select attributes and build an audience to test your site (and much more for that matter), have them talk their way through the shopping funnel, and answer some key questions. Because the process is entirely automated, you can get customer insights in a couple of hours.
To spread this results of these studies, Babcock uses an internal promotion strategy monster truck style. Basically, be fun and loud.
Winning The Battle
I have a quote from Eisenhower I repeat everywhere from bars to business meetings. It goes, “No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.” Basically, plans are useless at predicting what will happen, but the planning process is invaluable to success. A customer insight program is a valuable insight that should form the basis for any plan. Still, when the boots hits the ground, it’s user testing and research that allows you to figure out what’s causing metrics to drop and why things aren’t going according to plan, so you can win your customer’s business and loyalty.
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