Category Archives: e-Commerce

Driving VS Measuring – The “Metrics Ratio”

Having an Unhealthy Metrics Ratio Can Have a Negative Impact On Your Results

We all love metrics.  We can’t wait until the latest reporting period is over, so we can start digging into the numbers to see how we did.  The anticipation is exhilarating.  When things are going well, it is a little bit like Christmas morning.  When you are struggling, the metrics are about as welcome as a letter from the IRS.Metrics Ratio Image

It is important to be aware of your “Metrics Ratio”.  Many e-Commerce teams are responsible for both the execution of activities as well as reporting on the effectiveness of those activities.  The Metrics Ratio considers the resources dedicated to driving the metrics versus the resources required to measure the results.  You probably think you have much more talent dedicated to driving vs. measuring results.   However it does not always work out that way.  The demands of the various stakeholders increase over time.  Unfortunately you end up running far more reports than originally intended.  Resources formerly dedicated to creative work now end up “feeding the metrics monster”. Your Metrics Ratio gets top-heavy on analysis and your performance takes a hit as a result.

What can you do to counteract this?  You have a number of options which include:

  1. Consider relaxing the reporting period.  Do the metrics change enough over time to justify the frequency?  Can you go from daily to weekly, weekly to monthly, etc?
  2. Are the stakeholders truly using the reports you are generating?  Consider doing a formal or informal survey.  Ask your metrics stakeholders how necessary the various reports are to them.  Ask them to rank them 1-10.  You will probably find a few reporting items you can eliminate.
  3. Stop “massaging” data before sending out to the stakeholders.  Most metrics packages have the ability to schedule “canned” reports that can be pushed to the various recipients on a regular schedule.  No manual intervention required.  If people want a specific report adjusted in some manner, suggest they handle it themselves or delegate to someone on their team.
  4. Strive for the “hub and spoke” model.  Train stakeholders in using the analytics package themselves so they can generate their own reports.

Reporting metrics are a form of communication, and like all communication rule#1 is know your audience.  Some stakeholders will be incapable of generating their own reports, and may overstate the use they get out of the reports.  If it is the CEO – you suck it up and get them the reports.  If it is some middle level manager – perhaps you make the tough call.

Ultimately you are held accountable for delivering positive metrics, and managing your Metrics Ratio effectively will help boost your results.

Responsive Design – Big Help For Mobile

Boston_Globe_responsive_websiteIn Wednesday’s post, we talked about how Google has removed the ability to segregate AdWords campaigns by device type.  Campaigns directing traffic to Web sites not mobile friendly will generally be a large waste of money.

Until recently, firms had to effectively build multiple Web sites to accommodate the different device types.  This meant significant up-front expense, and the added expense/challenges associated with ongoing maintenance.  By utilizing responsive design, the Web site effectively scales according to the device screen width.  These flexible grids automatically adjust and preserve the user experience.  This Blog is built in WordPress, which employs responsive design.  You can see how it works by performing the “squeeze test”.  Try dragging the right side of the browser window, and you will see that the content shrinks from 3 columns, to 2, and down to one (mobile friendly).  For a good overview on how this works – check out this fine presentation by John Polacek.  Give your Web site the “squeeze test”.  If your content is not adjusting to browser window width, this is an indication you are “screen size challenged”.

An example of a “mobile unfriendly” site I recently came across is the Field Museum in Chicago.  I love this Chicago museum, and I don’t want to pick on them specifically, but I have to admit their Web site is not mobile friendly.  You can check it out here.  Try it on a desktop, tablet, and a phone.  You will notice that it looks the same on each – just a different size on each.  This is NOT mobile friendly.  Think about the practical use of this.  Let’s say you are in the area and want to check out the museum hours.  If it is not quite easy to find, you are likely to skip the idea of visiting.

If you have any remaining doubt about the importance of mobile design – see this Google Survey.  Then it is time to get to work on it.




Customer Journey Mapping – An Eye-Opening Experience

Customer Journey MappingI was working recently on a major overhaul of an internal process that is very involved, both from a support standpoint as well as a customer interaction level.  While the impetus of this project is a major re-platforming of this process, of course it requires an extensive review of each of the myriad steps in the process.  Of course we want to streamline the process/procedures as much as possible, no sense improving the technology on a bad process to start with.

One of the tools we employed was customer journey mapping.  I was first exposed to this at the Oracle Open World conference last October.  Here is a link to a blog post on the topic.  In a nutshell, you create a chart of every single step in the process that involves a customer touch.  You then rate each step as positive, neutral, or negative for both the employee handling the customer interaction, and of course more importantly the experience the customer is having.  We were doing this on a white board, and we were using smiley faces for good experiences, and conversely we used unhappy faces.

It was very telling when we were looking at the white board, with the seemingly endless number of steps, and the multitude of unhappy faces on both the company and the customer side.  Nobody in the conference room had any idea of the number of steps involved in this process, and the negative experiences both sides must endure countless times each day.

The net result?  We are re-thinking every step in the entire process, with a strong preference toward improving customer experience.  Some of the very elementary takeaways (they seem so simple to execute):

  1. Challenge the necessity of every step in the process – especially the “double negatives” where it is a bad experience on both ends of the interaction.
  2. Question whether the customer must be “held hostage” while you execute internal procedures and activities.  There is no harm in letting the customer off the hook, with the promise that you will resolve the issue and follow up with them with either an e-mail or phone call confirming the issue was resolved.
  3. Wherever you have necessary steps that have the “unhappy faces” tied to them, strive for ways to improve the interaction for the employee or customer.  Involve the team members in brainstorming sessions to develop improvements.

These are just the initial steps, which will be followed up with the actual implementation, and measurement of success (likely surveys).  That will then be followed with a re-calibration process.

A final thought:  Don’t try to be “perfect” out of the gate.  While it is wise to achieve many improvements, too many changes all at once may be too much to swallow, both for your employees as well as customers.  It is likely more prudent to “chunk” your improvement initiative and commit to an ongoing process of continual improvements.  If it is too radical you run the risk of confusing and alienating all involved.  That results in a big unhappy face!