As 2008 ends, many people are already looking ahead to a time of dread: tax season. At Intuit, the developer of business and financial software—TurboTax, Quicken, and QuickBooks—April is the best of times, and potentially the worst: When most of your business comes in one peak load, every Web-site visit counts. (See this month's “Spiff Up Your Site!,” for more on Web-site design.)
For years the company had been basing its Web design on the expertise of its internal team. Embarking on another redesign initiative early last summer, Intuit decided to try something new.
Lance Jones, Intuit’s manager of online customer experience, knows the importance of Web analytics; he also recognizes its shortcomings. “We were using an analytics tool to understand visitor behavior.… You can stare at a page for days [trying] to figure out what about [it] is causing a fallout,” he says. So what better way to gauge customers’ thoughts than by asking them?
A discussion with Google Analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik led to iPerceptions, a Montreal-based provider of voice-of-the-customer analytics. Its hosted solution offers a two-stage process: a pop-up asking visitors to participate in a survey; and, at the end of the session, the survey itself. Customers have to pass the first stage to reach the homepage, but, to Intuit’s amazement, visitors rarely express discontent toward the survey itself.
Intuit and iPerceptions crafted a 15-question survey on visitor intent and frustrations, with one overarching metric: task completion. If an objective went unmet, the survey helped Intuit understand why.
Overall, Intuit has an average survey response rate of 2 percent to 5 percent—as many as 3,000 responses per month during its peak season (January to April) and as few as 300 a month the rest of the year.
When Intuit relaunched QuickTax.ca and QuickBooks.ca, two of its largest Web properties, in September 2007, and after addressing specific purchase-process complaints, frustrations over failed purchases dropped from 15 percent to 9 percent. “We tried to knock out all the barriers,” Jones says, and feedback made it possible.
When 18 percent of visitors reported site-navigation issues, a total redesign led to new product pages with enhanced descriptions. New product catalogues, comparison charts, and recommendation engines make it easier for customers to identify the optimal products. Navigation issues dropped to 8 percent.
In one British site, Web analytics and iPerceptions data confirmed that a rise in product-content complaints was simply due to informational tabs being below the scroll line. By displaying the tabs more prominently, the length of each session grew by 30 percent, average order value rose by 20 percent, and frustrations over poor product content dropped 20 percent. “They [moved] upscale when they understood more clearly what each product offered,” Jones explains.
Average conversion rose from 2 percent to roughly 2.5 percent. While that may seem low, Jones says that for a niche market, with a seasonal buying cycle, that result brought “smiles around the room.” Reinforcing the commitment to the customer experience, Jones’s team doubled from four to eight employees. By the end of 2009, he aims to have 95 percent of visitors successful in their tasks—be it a purchase, research, or support.
After implementing iPerceptions’ voice-of-the-customer analytics solution, Intuit:
- has seen a .5-percentage-point increase in purchase conversions;
- manages between 300 and 3,000 visitor feedback responses per month;
- has seen customer frustration around the checkout process drop from 15 percent to 9 percent, and navigation difficulties improve from 18 percent to 8 percent; and
- redesigned its U.K. site, increasing session length by 30 percent and average order value by 20 percent, while decreasing overall frustration around product content by 20 percent.
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