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Using CEM to evaluate your Web site

Using CEM to evaluate your Web site


Until now, the handheld computing industry has produced only one real success story: the Palm family of computers. In July 1998, the core team that created the original PalmPilot left 3Com Corporation to form Handspring (www.handspring.com), a company dedicated to developing the next generation of handheld computers. Handspring's first product is the Visor handheld computer, which, with its Springboard expansion slot, can extend its functionality to wireless communications, MP3 players, paging, digital photography, and global positioning.


Vividence (www.vividence.com) is a vendor of Customer Experience Management products and services. The most recent evolution of CRM, CEM looks directly at the experience of an online visitor or customer, whether the site is e-tail, content-based, or a portal. This intelligence can then be implemented through continued redevelopment of the site which helps strengthen the site's "stickiness" and increase return visit ratios.


The Vividence XMS Suite sends a panel of customers to a Web site and collects qualitative and quantitative data as they pursue a series of real-life tasks.

SearchCRM spoke with Frank Loeffler, Handspring's director of Internet marketing, about the project.


SearchCRM: Why did you choose to use a CEM provider? Don't traditional CRM providers supply something that could address usability issues?

Loeffler: Not in this way. The whole thing about CEM is that it allows customers like us to do quick and easy testing on either a live site or a beta site and get immediate feedback.

SearchCRM: What sort of tests did you have the customer panel perform on your site?

Loeffler: We had them buy certain products on our site. It sounds like a very simple task, but we asked them to find products that may have been buried in the site. We asked them to look up policies and procedures--for example, to find our privacy policy or to find our shipping and return policy. These are the types of things that general users may do during the course of a day.

SearchCRM: What were some of the changes Vividence suggested you make?

Loeffler: We needed to make it easier in the checkout process for people to understand what type of information to type in and to change small elements in the checkout flow--for example where customers enter their e-mail address and password and how obvious certain buttons are. We had to make sure that customers know exactly when they're checking out as opposed to continuing through the checkout process. They're subtle things, but when you add them all up they make a difference in the way the user can navigate and use our site.

SearchCRM: What were the results of the testing?

Loeffler: We used BizRate to check satisfaction levels with the information on the site, the checkout process, and the fulfillment process. After making some of the changes that were recommended in the Vividence study, we saw an increase in customer satisfaction. We got one of the best ratings you can get and won BizRate's Circle of Excellence award. You have to do each one of the tests and improve the site bit by bit, but in the grand scheme of things, the overall customer experience improves on a macro level.

SearchCRM: What advice would you give to other companies just beginning a project such as yours?

Loeffler: Understand what type of test you want and make sure the questions are the right questions. To do this, we sat down with our internal marketing group and looked at what sort of challenges are facing customers today. We also looked at customer feedback.

SearchCRM: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Loeffler: We'd probably do it earlier. Honestly, we would try to get ahead of the curve when we're designing the site and when we're going through our early beta phases and prereleases.

Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle and Psychology Today. Contact her at linda-eric@lserv.com 

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