Though it will not disclose the level of discomfort, the issue of online order abandonment has forced Bell Canada to see what's going wrong.
The Toronto company arguably is one of the first telecommunications marketers to use scenarios to recapture prospects who lost interest in buying products on bell.ca.
“Bell Canada has designed an intuitive product selection application as well as a product comparison application to guide customers through the process … [yet] too many prospects fail to complete their orders,” said Philippe Suchet, CEO of Kefta, the San Francisco online marketing technology firm on the account.
The agency has devised a series of reactivation pop-ups and tailored reactivation e-mails served when the consumer drops out of the cell phone application process. These are based on when the prospect drops, responses to the feedback form and statistical rules.
Kefta's solution is called Prospect Reactivation. It is hosted on Kefta's servers and required minimal integration on Bell Canada's site, enabling the implementation in seven weeks.
The solution tackles specific duties. It tracks each prospect's movement on bell.ca and reports the location where he dropped. Then it engages each lost prospect with a pop-up survey. Questions asked include why the prospect dropped and a request for his e-mail address.
“Kefta's other customers have found 15 percent to 40 percent of abandoners fill [the pop-up surveys],” Suchet said. “The further along the prospect was in the online application process, the greater the fill rate.”
Prospects that respond are automatically sent an e-mail to address their concerns based on the response to the survey. This may include an incentive, a phone number to call a customer service representative, location of a nearby office for face-to-face service or a link to information.
“Whatever is most likely to address his concerns and bring him back,” Suchet said. “His partially completed mobile phone application has been saved and is only a click away.”
It goes without saying that the process of buying phones and telecom services online is long and complex for consumers.
Take cell phones. It is a 10-step process on bell.ca, including selecting a phone, a service area, a rate plan, a payment option, features, options and accessories. Once a prospect chooses his total plan package, there are four checkout steps — shopping cart, billing and delivery, order summary and confirmation.
So it is no surprise that consumer abandonment rates online for this sector exceed 80 percent, Suchet said. Bell Canada specifically hired Kefta to understand online customer behavior and expectations. The company wants to know where and why prospects drop their cell phone applications before completion. The goal is to smooth the process and make buying easier.
Bell Canada also noticed that once the e-commerce transaction begins, prospects suddenly drop orders in midstream for unconnected reasons. Its objective here is to get another shot at selling to abandoners, prospects that previously failed to place their orders.
Online sales matter to Bell Canada. The company provides long distance Canada-wide and local-access services in Ontario and Quebec. It also owns stakes in local phone companies across Canada.
All told, it has 25 million residential and business customer connections in Canada. Products and services include Internet telephony, online access through narrowband and broadband and satellite television. The Bell Canada site also sells cell phones and value-added services like caller ID and call waiting.
With such breadth of offerings and vast customer base, Bell Canada clearly is the market leader. But it faces competition from companies like AT&T Canada, Telus and Rogers Communications. And it cannot drop the ball on the Internet, where purchases like cell phones and telecom services increasingly are migrating.
Hence the need for Bell Canada to reduce online order abandonment with such assiduity and the use of Kefta's Prospect Reactivation service.
“It produces aggregated reports that deliver insights into where and why people drop, empowering Bell Canada to improve its pages and processes so as to make it easier for individuals to purchase mobile phones online and for fewer drops in the first place,” Suchet said. “It also allows the company to test and assess the performance of multiple reactivation tactics to boost online conversion rates.”