Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fix the web

Fix the web interests me. I'm pretty impressed with the approach because even though web accessibility is a legal requirement there are a huge number of websites that aren't compliant with the basic standards let alone the more advanced requirements. I think their helpful approach will really go a long way to driving a more accessible web as there is one issue having standards and legal requirements but that doesn't mean anyone will understand them or even be aware of them. I wish them all the best.

However the subject of accessibility is fascinating from an overall customer experience angle. Let's look at some stats to get some context.
  • 2 Million people in the UK have some kind of significant visual impairment. That is one in 30!
  • 1 in 12 men have some form of colour blindness. In total 9% of the UK population suffer from some form of colour blindness
  • 21% of the UK population are over 60. That doesn't mean that they have some form of disability but a portion of these may have suffer from conditions that make certain activities a little more difficult.A simple example is that a drop down box is more difficult to handle than say a radio button group for those without 100% dexterity.
  • 3.4 Million people suffer from a disability which prevents  them from using a standard keyboard
  • 6 Million people have dyslexia
  • 8.6 Million people are registered disabled
sources :,
The doesn't include those with literacy issues or even those who'se first language is not English.

So here's the point. The number of people who will need to access your website in a different way is huge, it could even be as many as 48% of the population. But let's turn this on it's head a little. Instead of us worrying about the effort of building accessible websites, surely we should be focussing on making the customer experience for all our visitors optimal for their context. Chuck in mobile access and the difference in behaviour of say Gen Y & Z visitors and we have a phenominal opportunity to change our thinking into building websites that deliver the appropriate experience for our visitors.

To put it bluntly there is no longer a single online customer experience.

My point is this, if you are having to adopt a methodology that caters for the DDA provisions, the appraoches you take will enable you to adopt a methodology that allows you to present the appropriate Customer Experience across a wider demographic.

I have seen web developers/designers sweating over ensuring that IE 6 users are catered for when there was no accessibility provision in the web site. Fotrgetting the legal aspects the IE 6 user base was much smaller than those who would benefit from accessibility features. This is poor commercial thinking.

The other behaviour I have seen alot of is people taking a tick list approach to accessibility, using tools to check basic provisions in the policy which might mean that the site passes a standard, but it really doesn't  mean that the site is usable. A simple test is to install the web developer toolbar in Firefox and turn off JavaScript just to see how many sites just don't work anymore - a great example of developers putting sexy ajax features in and forgetting that not all users are allowed JavaScript to work on their browsers. The other really revealing test is to actually hear your web site when read through a screen reader, your site may pass acessibility tests but probably reads like gibberish and is therefore unusable for the visually impaired.

So in my very humble opinion:-
  • Stop thinking about accessibility as an imposition and extra effort and start thinking of it as a commercial opportunity
  • The practises required to provide accessibility in your website will allow you to be much more versatile with the experience to present to anyone i.e. if you adopt the principles you will gain so much more.
  • Don't just be compliant, compliance doesn't mean usable.
  • Accessibility shouldn't just be about the disabled it is about all customers

Monday, November 29, 2010

QR Codes in TV Adverts

Falling asleep last night in front of "I'm a nonentity" on the TV last night, a Waitrose ad caught my attention.

During the last few seconds of the ad with the logo and the strapline there was a 2D barcode, I think it was a QR code, bottom right of the screen.

Interesting .....

Getting quite excited I asked my wife if she had seen the barcode on the screen, which was quite amusing as I had to then try and explain it in other terms such as "did you see the box with the squiggles in it" etc.. Still no joy.

This intrigued me even more. Great idea, but is it going to work ?

  • Will the target demographic know what it is and what they should do about it? In this case probably not.
  • Even if they know what it is do they have the wherewithall to do something about it? i.e. have a barcode reader on their phone, know that it is on their phone or download one in order to use it ? Probably not.
  • Was there enough time to get your phone out, turn on the camera, go to the TV, line it up (it's got to be big enough to fill the phone screen to get a reading) and take the picture ? Probably not. Let's face it, it's Sunday night we are all probably having a nice snooze after a big fat roast, reaction time isn't going to be at it's best. Even if we are sharp as a button achieving all that in 3-5 seconds is probably asking a little too much (the Waitrose one was on for 3 seconds).

I think 2D barcodes are pretty useful, use on posters and in magazines can work if you sign post their usage effectively, but on a TV ad ? mmmmm.... needs some work. I am sure there is a way but there are some significant barriers.

Assuming the QR Code contained a URL which would take your phone to a landing page or an app download, I wonder what Waitrose's web analytics are saying this morning. I hope it worked as this was pretty interesting for me as a response measure. Perhaps it is something that will come with time.

Or was I missing the purpose of it?

Update 3/12: I was just checking to see if Google had indexed this blog and came across some stories e.g. . It's the triumphant tones ("claims UK first") that amuse me.

Having found the ad on Youtube I thought I would have a go at scanning, while timing myself. Using QR Code as the app, it took me 11 seconds to load the app and zoom in enough for it to capture the code. I even tried it on a larger version (as displayed) and it still takes above 7 seconds and that's with my iphone on the right app page so I could click it quickly.

Even with the larger image below you have to get pretty close to the screen (6 inches or less) so if you picture this in the real world you have to :-

leap out of your chair, get your phone, load the scanner app, zoom in enough to capture it correctly (and it you use an app that is not constantly scanning i.e. uses the camera you could miss) all in 3 seconds!

Have a go yourself.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Talk to me in a way I understand

I was standing talking to my student son the other day, when his bank phoned him and asked if he wanted to take part in a survey. Because he is a typical Gen Z multi-tasker he said yes and we continued our conversation while he walked through the IVR survey questions.

Within seconds he was annoyed and started poking the keyboard of his phone with violence swearing out loud that he wasn't stupid. "That's it!" he  exclaimed "Those ****ers are getting bad marks for everything!" and he continued to give them 1 out of 5 for every question (which took a while). What amused me even more was his determination to make sure he finished the task instead of just hanging up.

It turns out that the questions were long and each one was repeated then, just to rub salt in the wound, the explanation of the ratings was repeated for each and every question.

Here's the issue for me. The person who planned that survey campaign spent alot of money getting an outbound team to phone a big wodge of customers, ask if they wanted to participate in the survey and then put them through to the most boring IVR survey they could cook up. What a waste of money! Where I may have either completed it honestly or got bored and hung up, they got a bad score for being boring and I am sure that within a certain age group they would have had some pretty bad results and not even understood why.

So what's the point here? For me it is that if you have a wide demographic, using one single method to survey your all customers is pretty dumb. It's as bad as sending a text survey to my Mum, equally as ineffective. Generation Z multi task, can touch text without even looking at the screen (and faster than I can type) are are generally texting, talking, chatting on facebook and browsing all at the same time. So how someone at a bank thought it was a good idea to subject them to a tedius time consuming survey (which required a lot of attention) I can't fathom. I'll bet that they would have done much better (with that demographic) with a quick text survey.

We have to face facts about the new Generation Z, they are different. They communicate differently, behave differently and are bored with anything that does not work in the way they are used to. They are consumers now and will soon have a growth in disposable income so it's a whole new customer base that behaves differently.

Being bold I think this will change how we communicate with these new customers so much that  in the next five years the customer service department for brands with Gen Z customers will be unrecognisable. For those brands with young customers these changes should be happening now, but over 5 years Gen Z will be getting permanent jobs and have significant spending power. If we don't wise up and start changing how we communicate with them, someone else will. This is such a cultural shift that we should be laying down the foundations for it now.

All those PR people in big brands who think that twitter is for spouting reams of boring press releases or, worse still, that corporate blogs need to be tightly control corporate blather probably need to think again and take a look at some of the thought leaders like Zappos.

Impossible IVR

This one is a little unfair, but I found it amusing none the less. I do dread ringing my mobile provider at the best of times, but when I had a Blackberry it was particularly annoying. The provider in question always had an IVR menu that ended in "enter the 2nd and 4th letter of  your password" message some way through the tortuous navigation.

Not sure why they had this,  did it really reduce AHT that much by preventing the agent from having to ask ? I suppose in large contact centres a 5 second gain in AHT makes a huge difference.

Anyway moving on...

On a Blackberry the numeric keys don't have letters on them like other phones, so how you are meant to enter text on IVR is beyond me.  Having to grab another phone to work it out when you have just spent an eon getting through the tortuous menus in the first place is pretty annoying, especially if you got bounced back and had to wait for an operator who wouldn't be in the skill group you were after.

Being an averagely good soul I used to mention this to the agent to point out the stupidity of it, but it never changed and that is probably the thing that irked me the most.

I can understand that the IVR menu designer would miss the use case (but in truth shouldn't have as they should have run scenarios with all types of handsets). BUT having repeatedly mentioned it  to them you would have thought there were processes in place to capture that insight and do something about it.

Brands are constantly looking for insight and the agent is at the front end of all this, being able to flag up feedback and analyse it has to be at the forefront of improving the customer experience. I have witnessed webchat teams in which the agents are extremely knowledgeable about the website experience and that the site owner is constantly talking to the agents to capture valuable insight to build into the next site release. Why does it appear that some brands don't do the same for the contact centre experience? Perhaps they need to learn from their web peers who spend a great deal of effort in constantly modelling the users experience and refining it?

Perhaps it is that the dreaded KPI's are driving a behaviour that doesn't allow this kind of insight capture i.e. the constant focus on AHT cuts out anything beyond dealing with the query at hand as fast as humanly possible. Does it really cost that much if the agent spends 30 seconds capturing a comment once in a while ? Think of the value that could be derived if some verbatim was captured by the agent which could be analysed, categprised and acted upon.

This got me thinking a little further about the priorities that drive contact centre experiences. It is of course critical to run an efficient operation, costs can spiral if one element is out of whack or worse still customer satisfaction can drop like a stone. The issue for me is that setting tight targets on  KPIs can be counter productive. IMHO this can be especially difficult when part or all of the contact centre is outsourced. So much focus in the outsource selection and purchasing cycle is spent on reducing costs that the commercial model put in place drives the outsourcer to achieve targets which may not be in the best interests of the customer. An example might be having a cost per contact model, a great model for the brand but even if there are bonuses for improvements in C-SAT it may be that driving down AHT would earn the outsourcer more.

Anyway back to the plot. For me the core issues are Capturing the feedback, Analysing it and Acting upon it. If the KPI targets prevent taking the time to capture during a call, then other methods can be used such as post call surveys for which there are lots of tools to make this easy. But I do wonder whether the responses are analysed deeply i.e. I am sure the quantitative data such as NPS type questions are reported on and poured all over, but  I wonder how many surveys have room for verbatim/comments with the analysis to derive the all important actionable insight. For me it is this unstructured data which is the goldmine.

Anyway with my phone I solved the problem by buying an iPhone instead (well not really to solve that problem I just wanted an iPhone)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Customer Service - This says it all

I saw this in a presentation by Attensity the text analysis vendor. Perfect!

Photo courtesy of

Web Surveys - Yawn

How many times do you go onto a website and get hit with a survey pop up within seconds ?

You know the type, "please take the time to tell us about your experience"

What experience ??! I haven't done anything yet!!

Don't get me wrong Web Surveys are an important tool to keep an eye on the users online experience, so I am not saying don't use them, just use them appropriately.

Most of the online survey tools have a set of rules you can configure to set when a survey pops up, it's these settings that need to be tuned so the survey pops up when I am someway through or at the end of my journey, then at least I will have something to say.

Another simple technique is to place survey buttons at the end of the key user journeys i.e. when I have completed (or failed to achieve) the task I set out to do on the website then I might have something valuable to say and more importantly might even be motivated to say something.

The other trap with surveys is the length. I am sure you have come across that kind of thing,  endless pages of questions which no one is ever going to analyse properly anyway. Website owners should keep an eye on the number of people who enter a survey and the number that complete it so they can fine tunes this. Better still invest in some text analysis software and ask one NPS question and then capture free text, some real insight will come from that.