If you’re thinking about redesigning a website, deep customer understanding is essential. A website is guaranteed to have more success if it helps customers find the information they seek and complete the tasks they came to perform. To gather these insights, market research is a necessity. Customer research doesn’t have to be expensive either. Below are some low-cost customer research methods we often use to inform the website strategy, personas, customer journeys and experience design for a new site.
1. Site Search – Site search is an underutilized resource that enables you to gain customer insights quickly just by accessing the website’s Google Analytics account. Site search queries indicate the key tasks and activities a customer comes to a site to perform, thereby, informing site navigation and hierarchy. Site search terms also help you understand what information a customer is seeking, which can identify content gaps or desired features. Not only do site search terms help you understand why customers came to your site in the first place, but they are fuel for future blog posts and content marketing efforts.
2. Call Center Visit – There is no better way to build customer empathy than to sit with call center agents for a few hours. You are guaranteed to experience the highs and lows of the customer’s journey when you listen in on support calls. We typically seek to accentuate the brand highs in a new web experience while mitigating the lows with improved content, features or technologies. While listening to calls offers you direct customer input, interviewing customer service reps and call center agents in between calls can help fill in knowledge gaps and provide additional customer insights from these boots-on-the-ground teammates.
3. Chat Logs – If your site already has live chat, these sessions are generally logged and can be helpful tools to build customer understanding. Chat sessions themselves are qualitative artifacts but they can be mined and quantified to gain unique insights. One easy, fun and free way to visualize this information is to paste chat data into a word cloud generator. Top keywords will visually separate from the mass of text to reveal key topics customers are trying to understand and issues they are looking to resolve.
4. On-Site Surveys – Surveys are generally more successful if they are easy to complete and are relevant to users on the site. One to three question surveys can establish benchmarks or quickly fill in key knowledge gaps about our customers. The one survey question I love to include is, “Were you able to find the information you were looking for today?” This question establishes a site’s task completion rate and serves as a benchmark for how well the site functions before and after the redesign. Enabling open-ended feedback for users who reply ‘no’ to the question invites customers to share feedback on how the site could better meet their needs. Qualaroo is one cost-effective survey tool that is great for short, on-site surveys and it can be launched quickly.
Feedback and data from site search, call center visits, chat logs and on-site surveys are quick and easy methods of customer research that can be used to develop insights and strategies for a new website. These approaches are often included in our research process because the teams, tools and data are readily available; they just need to be harnessed.
Developing research-based customer definition is important, but it’s just one facet of an overall website redesign. If you’re thinking about a new site, check out our guide outlining 10 Questions to Ask Before Redesigning Your Website.