Ecommerce Q&A – Seth Erickson on Customer Experience

Michael and guest Seth Erickson discuss customer experience. TRANSCRIPT Michael: Hello folks, and welcome to eCommerce QA. This is the podcast where store owners, directors of eCommerce and eCommerce managers can stay up-to-date on the latest tools and technologies in eCommerce. I’ll be joined on the show by my colleague and partner-in-crime, Dillon Holst. Our […]

May 19, 2016 15 mins
eCommerce Q&A
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Michael and guest Seth Erickson discuss customer experience.

Michael: Hello folks, and welcome to eCommerce QA. This is the podcast where store owners, directors of eCommerce and eCommerce managers can stay up-to-date on the latest tools and technologies in eCommerce. I’ll be joined on the show by my colleague and partner-in-crime, Dillon Holst. Our goal is to handle one or two questions per episode. You can check us out on the web at There, you will be able to get in touch, ask us questions, and just generally participate. Hello everybody, and welcome to this episode of eCommerce QA. This is the show where we keep it fast and fun, talking about the questions of the hour about eCommerce. Today I am joined by my friend and respected mentor in the area of —well, I won’t tell you what it’s about yet— Seth Erickson of Kodis agency. Seth, thank you for joining us today.

Seth: Oh, thank you for having me.

Michael: So, you’ve taught me a lot in the last few months about this term “digital transformation”, and that’s not necessarily our topic, but that’s something you focus a lot on, so can you give us kind of the overview.

Seth: Sure. Yeah, digital transformation is somewhat a buzzword at this point in time, but it’s something that I think a lot of people can identify with. Like, you could give case studies of saying “you remember how there used to be Blockbuster, and now there’s just Netflix and RedBox?” And people go “yeah”. Well, that is digital transformation in action. That is technology changing and enabling people to do more, which is giving rise to new types of businesses and new ways of doing things. So digital transformation, for us, just is really a reference to the pace of change happening in our world and the transformation is that need to keep up with that change. The need to innovate, the need to stay away from disruption and other buzzwords that you could throw in there. So, what we do is, we basically —codes agency— we work at the convergence point technology and business and marketing, so it’s essentially strategy, marketing and technology coming together, and we help companies with that so that they can get through all these different things, all these different changes in technology and kind of stay up-to-date and stay up-to-pace. So, we cover a lot of different areas, strategy and culture, staff and customer engagement, process and innovation, technology, data and analytics, those are kind of our five key pillars. But, eCommerce obviously plays into that, because technology, and because of where things are going with what customers want, what they’re experiencing, and what they’re expecting from vendors.

Michael: So, and I think this is really a fun topic for me to think about because I spend all of my time thinking about this process of someone opening a web browser of some kind, either on a mobile device or desktop, or maybe it’s on their TV, who knows. And then they’re browsing, and they’re making a purchase, and then we’re trying to engage with them after that point via email and so on and so forth. But what we want to talk about today is something broader than that. And the question today is, how does eCommerce fit in to the broader customer journey? Now, in past shows we’ve talked about how to create a satisfying purchasing experience, and that’s something I’m really big about; how can you optimize your usability, the performance of your website, a lot of tactical things you can do to make people happier about this whole process we’re having them go through to buy something, using a user input device on a flat screen. That’s not a natural human experience, it’s actually physically easier to go somewhere and pick something up and pay cold, hard cash down, and that’s why people still do that. But, now we’re doing eCommerce and that’s more convenient, so can you expand on this idea of the customer journey and explain how an effective eCommerce store is going to be a part of that.

Seth: Sure. Basically, like I was saying before, consumers’ expectations are kinda changing, right? Like, everybody’s connected. They’re connected all the time, they’re always online, they’re always doing research, they’re using their phones, they’re using their computers; even your video game systems can get on the web nowadays. And because of that, people —the way that we used to do commerce has changed. So, proctoring gamble back in the ’90’s sort of mapped out this customer experience and said well, you know, the customers’ experience works this way. Basically, you find out about a product through television, and then you go to the store, and so that your first moment of truth is finding out about it on television or radio. Then you go to the store, that’s your second moment of truth; you interact with that product in the store, you purchase it, and then you enjoy it, hopefully, or you don’t enjoy it, right? And so that was the basic journey. Now the journey, because of digital, has changed and it’s oftentimes represented to be cyclical, that you move through this certain path. In reality, the more and more data that we get on it, we’re finding out that it kind of zig-zags all over the place, but there are some kind of key core values that happen. And so, Google has put out a lot of interesting reading about what they call the “zero moment of truth”. And really what the zero moment of truth is, is it starts when somebody searches your product online. So, for eCommerce users, you know, this may be the first exposure. They might google “cat food”, right? And that result may return your store, or your product. But that, then, is given way to the first moment of truth, where they actually click on the link and they go to your store. And then, what happens when they go to your store? The second moment of truth is, they actually buy something. So they’ve gone from Google, they’ve been exposed to your store, they click through it, they’re looking around, and now the second moment of truth is this idea of “I made a purchase”, then it leads to the ultimate moment of truth, which is “what was that whole experience together, that I just had?”. Was it positive, was it negative, did I like the store? Did I feel like it had other products that were helpful? All these things kind of go into a user’s mind as they’re making that ultimate moment of truth experience, which leads to thoughts –either positive or negative– about what you have to offer.

Michael: I mean, it’s kind of like, if I can jump in, I feel like what you’re saying is that’s the final thumbs up, thumbs down.

Seth: Yeah.

Michael: Right? In the user’s mind, they’re not going to be ambivalent most of the time, they’re gonna either think something was a good experience or bad, and it may be strong or weak, but you’re either winning or losing.

Seth: Yeah. And that’s why it’s referred to as the ultimate moment of truth. It’s “Was this good? Was it bad?”. And if you’re an eCommerce site, there’s two different ways you can look at it. One is that, I might find your product because I happened to Google search it, so you happen to be secondary to what I’m trying to achieve as a user through my journey. Or you can be primary, meaning that you have a store that specializes in cat food, or you specialize in super eccentric Asian art, or you specialize in very specific things: you sell door parts, or you sell expensive antiques, or whatever. So, they may be coming to your store through that specific experience, but a lot of eCommerce does tend to have touch points that expand out, and they touch all these different areas because they’re advertising in doing stuff. So there’s to ways to look at it. But regardless, any eCommerce store…basically, you become part of this journey. And so, what’s really key to that is understanding that you are a part of the journey and how that works, right? And also understanding what your customer needs, right? Having empathy for your customer, understanding— not only being able to look at the data and understanding “well, were they coming here for a specific product or were they coming to my store for my store?”. There’s sort of a difference and you need to be able to segment your audience in different ways, and that’s pretty easy through the data because you can always track, you can always say well, this person came through Google, this person came from some marketing cloud we had over here, whatnot. But you have to be able to take that data and then start breaking it up and segmenting it down so that you can understand why your audience is there, what they’re really looking for, and what’s important to them. And I know that you’ve done other podcasts about some of this kind of targeting; I think you just spoke a week ago, or two weeks ago, even on email targeting, which again goes back to segmenting your audiences and being able to say “I know that this user only comes here because we’re the only ones who carry this product” or “we have the best price, and that’s why this user comes here”, and some of that stuff you can do little surveys and things like that, that are pretty un-invasive, that you can try to run and try to understand. Baby testing is another way to start to understand what your users are looking for. You’ve kind of changed things up, you’ve moved things around, and you say “well, now we’re going to move all of our widgets up higher on the page and our doodads lower on the page.” And this kind of stuff starts to give you insights about what your users are really looking for and what’s driving. Like I said, surveys never hurt; you can always send out an email and ask people and say “how can we make your experience better?”. And honestly, consumers like it when somebody asks them something genuine, as opposed to “please give me feedback”. You know what I mean?

Michael: Yeah, don’t name your feedback button “feedback”.

Seth: Yeah. I feel like often I buy something from a store, and they send me a thing, and they’re like, “would you like to rate your experience with our store?”. I’m like, no! But it’s, again, how you approach it. Ask simple questions, don’t try to get people to answer a 20 page survey about their store. Say things like “would you be interested in coming back again?”. Simplify, simplify. Because nobody has time to answer these surveys anyway. So, I’m not advocating that you ask people to get into this whole survey thing, so that you can find out more data.

Michael: You know, there’s a tool that I like to get clients to use, it’s called HotJar. It’s just a little JavaScript embed code you stick on there, and you can set up a little survey that’s limited to one page, you know, if you’re wondering about if people like this page, or if people are struggling with this. And you can have just a one-question survey right there, bam! And they just click once, done.

Seth: Yeah. I think there’s multiple tools out there; everybody does something a little bit different, but I have seen HotJar. But yeah, I mean, that kind of stuff is important and you have to figure out how to capture that and I think oftentimes, when somebody is selling a product, they kind of focus on their technology, and they focus on “is our technology the best, and is it fastest, and do we not have the right products, and is it the right price?”. But that actually plays into the purchasing part of of it, right? But again, where is that part along the journey? How does it connect? Because it may not make the same kind of impact that you think, and you may have the best price and the best selection, but your checkout is horrendous. And then they start having that bad experience. Because they end up there and they’re like “oh, this site looks great, they have the products I want, this is the price I want”, and then they go through checkout they’re like “this is one of Dante’s levels of Hell. I don’t know which one, but I know I’m in it, and I don’t know how to get out of here, and I don’t want to answer all these questions, and who needs my birth certificate to purchase something?”. That really goes back to user experience, and I think the zero moment of truth, the first moment of truth, the ultimate moment of truth, I can kinda break them up in different ways. And a different way to think about them is, zero moment of truth is often marketing-driven. You have a banner out there, you’re pushing something, you’re advertising something, and the customer goes “Okay, I’m now exposed to this, and I want to go on this process of discovery. Then, the first moment of truth is “I’m considering, I might be interested or enchanted by what you’re offering” and then they move into this purchasing phase. And then, through the purchasing phase, that’s when they start going into the ultimate moment of truth which is really reflection, they’re thinking about their experience, and then they may express that. And then one of the things that is important to know is that when people have a really good experience or a really bad experience, they will talk about it. If they have a mediocre experience, they won’t say anything at all. Because everybody gets a mediocre experience from every vendor they go to, right? So, how do you get that experience to be so positive that when people go talk about it, they share that information with their network of friends and family and followers and everybody else around them. So that that actually…that word of mouth actually generates you more business. You become more trusted because somebody that I know said something really good about you. I saw it on a Facebook post, or they shared a link or whatever. Like, all these things kinda translate to dollars and cents at the end of the day, but nobody really thinks about it that way, right? They just think, do I have the good technology? And so, all of these experiences sort of ripple out into social media, and how people talk about you, and whether or not they’re sharing good things or bad things about you too, so that’s important to note as well in this ultimate moment of truth.

Michael: So, what we really care about is the ultimate moment of truth, and in order to get there we have to go through the zero moment of truth, the first moment of truth, the second moment of truth, maybe other moments of truth.

Seth: Yeah, it’s key to the understanding, to the insights you’ll gain about your customers and how you’ll be able to interact with them.

Michael: Nice. Well, I’d like to know how our listeners can get in touch with you if they want to employ some of these strategies in their company.

Seth: Sure. Our website is That’s the best way to find out information about us and what we do, and see some of our past work. I do have a Twitter handle, but I don’t tweet often. I’m usually too busy, so…

Michael: Yeah, I don’t even use Twitter these days. I mostly use Slack, you know. I’ve got too many Slacks to know what to do with now.

Seth: Yeah, it’s just…we have all this technology and it’s amazing, but it’s overwhelming at times and it’s hard to keep up with all of it. But yeah, go into the website, our telephone number’s on there, there’s email for new business, and follow-up. Anybody who’s got more questions, you can follow up, and just send me an email to; I’ll be happy to try to answer questions if possible, and we can go from there. But, you know, try to help and help people gain in their understanding and knowledge of how the eCommerce solution actually works.

Michael: Nice. Seth, I appreciate your time and your insight, and I look forward to having you on the show again.

Seth: All right, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Michael: Take care.