Some e-businesses are willing to accept the two to five percent conversion rates that have been standard for e-commerce for many years now. Not so for some of the more successful e-business professionals, who endeavor to recover lost orders and win back the loyalty of customers before they are lost forever.
According to a recent study by leading e-business consulting firm Econsultancy , organizations typically have the least visibility into their online sales funnel where they need it the most – at the tail end of the transaction process. While 63 percent of companies have a “good understanding” of how people become aware of their brand or website, 78 percent of companies say they have “limited” or “no understanding” of why customers abandon a shopping cart or drop out of a business process. Previous research has shown that problems with checkout processes represent the single most significant loss of revenue for most online retailers.
While these statistics are alarming, the survey findings reveal a substantial opportunity. There’s a rich wellspring of incremental revenues to be gained by organizations that bolster their e-commerce processes with customer recovery initiatives. Furthermore, the emerging technology behind these efforts is making order recovery initiatives more fruitful than ever before.
Through use of Customer Experience Management solutions, companies can achieve real-time insight into website activities. They can monitor live sessions and reach out to online customers at the first sign of struggle – before those customers have abandoned. Unlike remarketing tools, which can tell only that customers have left the site, CEM solutions show the actual customer behaviors—what each online customer saw and did on the site, the values they entered into form fields, process anomalies and, ultimately, where things went wrong. Organizations leveraging this technology can therefore see not only which customers left, but why they left. As a result, these companies are armed with all the information they need to win back the business of customers that otherwise might be lost forever.
Customer Recovery in the Real World
Let’s look at a few real-world examples of how this works. We’ll start with the example of an international hotelier that catches customers before they’ve had the chance to abandon. The company uses CEM to monitor its reservations site for signs of struggle, such as visitors who repeat a process multiple times without completion. When this occurs, the CEM solution alerts a customer service agent, showing the agent exactly what the challenged visitor has experienced online. The agent is then able to initiate an online chat with the prospective customer, aided by complete context of the customer experience. “Looks like you’re having trouble booking a room at our Chicago hotel. Can I help you take care of this?” These proactive chats have proven to be highly effective.
Should customers leave the site at, say, step 7 of the transaction process, there’s still hope to seal the deal. Consider the example of a leading U.S. loan provider that established a dedicated outbound calling team to follow-up with anyone who starts a loan application on the website but abandons somewhere in the process. The outbound team views a CEM-generated replay of a wayward applicant’s web session to understand exactly what that person is interested in. The results of this highly personalized follow-up are impressive. Over 25 percent of the visitors with incomplete loan applications ultimately finish their applications after working with the outbound team.
Another instance of successful recovery efforts can be found at Netflights (a division of Thomas Cook), one of the UK’s leading independent travel firms. Netflights has used CEM solutions to transform its call center into a vehicle for customer recovery and a tremendous source of profit. From its team of 220 support representatives, the company allocated six individuals for dedicated outbound revenue recovery. The CEM solution sends alerts to this outbound team anytime a customer with a certain basket value is on the site. The outbound agents then uses the CEM solution to “shadow browse,” or follow the live customer session and, at the first sign of trouble, follow-up with a prompt call to the customer – usually in less than a minute – in an attempt to complete the sale.
By harnessing the power of CEM, Netflights’ proactive team now generates more than £16m annually, delivering more revenue per hour than any other reservation group in the company. This approach does more than recover lost orders, however; it also demonstrates a high level of personalized customer service to the company’s most valuable customers. These follow-ups turn poor impressions of the company into good ones, and have the added benefit of discouraging dissatisfied customers from writing negative comments on social media.
A Growing Concern
According to Forrester Research (see study), the average shopping cart abandonment rate now stands at 75 percent, up from 71 percent in 2010. In light of this disturbing trend, organizations that commit to going the extra mile to recover abandoned or struggling customers will have a leg up on their competition. Not only will they demonstrate a higher‐level of service, which will translate into improved customer satisfaction and retention, they will also realize significant improvements in conversion and capture untapped revenue as a result.