The other day as part of establishing Ayantek, I had to do a fair bit of research on the steps needed to officially create a firm. Given that this was my first independent venture, one of my initial steps was to research and become informed on the topic. Starting my search at Google, I read about the benefits of an LLC vs. incorporating the firm, the costs/benefits of establishing the firm in Delaware as opposed to Massachusetts, and also looked at the web site of several firms that would manage the entire company formation process for me.
One of these web sites was llc.com. With the intent of purchasing their services, I started the web checkout process on this site. Step 1 involved entering contact information. Step 2 involved a series of detailed questions regarding the formation of the LLC. At this point, I exited the cart realizing that I needed to collect more information before completing the checkout process.
Here’s the interesting part: A day later, I got a call from a customer service representative (CSR). She seemed aware of the fact that I had started the process and exited without completing the transaction. She answered my questions satisfactorily, gave me a discount, walked me through the process and helped complete the transaction. Excellent customer service all-around.
As someone who has been involved in designing eCommerce and online lead generation solutions, this experience left a deep impression on me. It got me thinking about how this process had been different than the countless other sites that I left mid-way through the checkout process:
- Collecting data on incomplete transactions: The CSR at llc.com knew my traversal history on the site. She obviously had my contact information from step 1. She knew that I had exited the site on step 2 of the checkout process. Many web sites do not store data about incomplete transactions. With disk space being so cheap nowadays, there is no reason not to collect this data. These incomplete transactions are a virtual gold mine of prospective customers.
- Collecting contact information seamlessly: Many eCommerce sites follow the practice of asking users to register or login before completing the checkout. However the registration process is usually handled as a separate function from the checkout process. By seamlessly integrating the collection of my contact information as part of the checkout process, LLC.com was able to not just collect the relevant information but also provide a seamless user experience.
- Granularity of data: Most eCommerce web sites track overall conversion rates, drop-off rates, cost per transaction and other types of funnel analysis on their check-out process. What most firms don't do well, is getting down to a user-level of granularity, identifying the exact drop-off point, and then following up on the exact reason as to why the user failed to complete the transaction. With the prevalence of web technologies like Ajax, it is now easy to collect and save information even about user key strokes and mouse movements.
- Timing: Having collected the right data on the site, llc.com managed to provide it to their CSR's the very next day for follow-up. With the ongoing trend of outsourcing call-centers/CSR's to countries like India, it can be challenging from an IT perspective to get the relevant information quickly into the hands of your sales team. However, that is no excuse. By calling me up the very next day – and striking while the iron was hot – resulted in a completed transaction and associated $$$ for LLC.com.
- Multi-channel integration: Even though I had started the transaction online, I completed my purchase on the phone. At the end of the day, the customer should be able to expect the same level of service, ease-of-use and functionality across all channels. But more importantly, they should be able to seamlessly move across these channels at relevant points in the process.
- Quality of Customer Service: At the end of the day, the CSR was very professional, personable and knowledgeable enough to answer all of my questions. Ultimately, that was key in ensuring that I completed the transaction with them and not one of their competitors.
Below are some best practices to help improve the conversion rate of your online channel:
- Collect data on incomplete transactions/traversals.
- Collect contact information up-front
- Track data at the most-granular level possible
- Process and get the data into the hands of your sales team right away
- Integrate your online and off-line channels seamlessly. Customers should be able to switch back and forth easily
- Ensure the quality and knowledge of your service reps.
Sidenote: The checkout process on llc.com could certainly be improved by informing the user up-front about all the information needed to complete checkout. I would speculate that this action would considerably reduce drop-off rates on the site.