Paying Attention to the Customer Experience Can Make You Money
Often a business will react to disruptive innovation by kicking up the usual method of production a few notches, instead of adapting the business to take advantage of opportunities that disruption provides.
Disruption in the media and technology space is trending towards putting control in the hands of the user. Adoption of technologies like BitTorrent, RSS, and web services are providing the foundation on which users are building tools to consume content on their own terms. To figure out what users want in this space, it's often useful to look at and think about user behavior (not user opinion) to figure out how to fill unmet needs.
The Globe and Mail, a national Canadian newspaper based in my hometown, demonstrated that strategic thinking about their customers' experience can pay off handsomely when facing a problem similar to one I wrote about several months back: how to change your product when your homepage traffic is declining.
They noticed that nearly half of their visits originated on deep-linked pages (i.e., not their home page or section indexes). Instead of doing something silly like shutting off their RSS feeds, or requiring registration to read their content, or prohibiting deep-linking, they did something smart: they put on their customer hats and provided their visitors with a moderately customizable experience and hints about all the other great content that lived on the site:
Globeandmail.com's managers decided last year to "improve the story-page experience." Explains [editor Angus] Frame, "We allowed readers to change the size of the text to suit their needs, we improved the headline font, we removed the left-rail navigation to give the story some breathing room, and we added valuable, informative links to the right-hand side of the story in a fairly wide column. We turned every story into a mini hub."
Frame reports: "Literally overnight daily page-views increased by more than 25%, from about 2.3 million pageviews a day to 3.0 million pageviews a day. That works out to about one extra pageview for each daily unique visitor to the site. It just goes to show that small changes can make a big and immediate difference."
Pay attention to what customers want to do and help them do it. There's simply no better way to guarantee success in the metrics that matter to your business.