08 October 2008

Digital Citizen 2008

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend ForeSee Results' Digital Citizen 2008 Summit.

(ForeSee Results does customer satisfaction research based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index or ACSI. The summit was mostly civil servants from various federal Departments of. I was there because Beaconfire's been chatting with ForeSee about the possibility of an informal relationship around relating good web design and development to scientific customer satisfaction studies.)

I was only able to attend the morning session due to client meetings in the afternoon. One was pretty sales-oriented. One was a fun case study about the National Park Service web site (which I particularly enjoyed because the National Parks Conservation Association is a BF client).

But the best session I was able to attend was Eric Peterson's opening keynote. Aside from being a really engaging speaker, Eric is also pretty much THE guru of the art and science of web analytics (and do follow the link to his site, because he offers a ton of free resources there).

I really can't even do justice to his presentation, but I'll try. He opened with the concept that satisfaction is a function of expectations. "Well, duh," you're probably thinking, but how many times do we disappoint our members or other constituents not because what we're offering is bad, but because they expected something different. Under promise and over deliver is an idea that bears repeating.

Peterson also immediately disabused us of the notion that occasionally running a report out of Google Analytics is good, or even helpful. While the tools themselves have improved in the past 15 years, the major advances have been made in taking the data and turning it into knowledge you can act on.

Peterson pointed out that he sees the same three mistakes all the time:
  • An investment gap - because even free tools aren't free.
  • A staffing gap - because data without interpretation and application is just a big pile of numbers.
  • A process gap - because unless you're willing to change your business processes based on what you learn, you'll never see a return on your investment.
These parallel the three factors that have to be in order to be effective: technology, people, and process. And, as you might guess, the last one is the hard one.

Peterson went on to describe an analysis ecosystem, made up of analytics tools, personalization, multivariate testing, and the voice/experience of the customer. Rather than trying to explain the full concept here, I'll point out that he's written a white paper that's available for FREE download from ForeSee Results and that lays out how all these factors interact to provide both quantitative and qualitative data to give organizations a complete picture of how to improve their customers' experiences with them.

And finally, if this topic really interests you, be sure to check out the next Web Analytics Wednesday, happening Wednesday, October 22 in Alexandria. It starts at 6 pm and includes snacks and drinks.

Edited Friday, October 10 at 9:48 am to add: The slides of all the presentations are now available for free download.

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