Improving the customer experience is priority number one for many business today. From upgrading their websites to creating mobile apps, everyone is looking to provide customers more reason to buy more things from them. But all of these efforts to add the latest and greatest in social/mobile technology to create better interactions with customers, overlooking basic things like making sure orders get delivered to their destinations can destroy all of those efforts.
Elie Chalita, product manager for global location intelligence solution Loqate, shares with us just how important getting the right address is to the overall customer experience. (This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the audio player at the end of this article.)
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Small Business Trends: Maybe you could give me a little bit of your personal background?
Elie Challita: I was an engineer, then decided I was tired of coding. So I went to business school and straight to Loqate afterwards.
Since starting with Loqate, I’ve been in charge of piloting our CRM campaign, doing the market analysis, and basically putting us on the CRM map.
Small Business Trends: Can you talk a bit more about Loqate?
Elie Challita: Loqate produces software that can take anything that vaguely looks like an address from any country in the world, parse it, pull out its components, verify every one of them, then give it back to you in the exact format for that country.
If you want to send a gift to Grandma in Japan, we make sure she gets the right address, for example.
Small Business Trends: Sounds like something easy to get right. But in eCommerce, not every address comes across right. What’s the impact of having the wrong address?
Elie Challita: You can have an amazing marketing campaign, the best offers on the planet. If you don’t get that customer purchase to their doorstep, they’ll never purchase from you again. If you mess up the delivery first time around or don’t get it there at all or get it there a week late, that customer will be pretty dissatisfied.
Small Business Trends: Can you talk about the actual impact of not getting a customer their goods because you have a bad address?
Elie Challita: We’ve had almost 40% of people getting their own home address wrong when they type it in. Admittedly, many errors are minor. But they can still throw off shipping. More than that, most companies don’t verify the addresses. They assume it’s correct. It might get delivered, but in many cases, it simply won’t get there.
Every package you don’t deliver properly, you’ve written off any possible profit on that. You might have to refund the customer, send something again – the goods might get lost/destroyed. So you’ve turned a pretty much guaranteed sale – into a loss to begin with. Now that’s the basic value.
The bigger problem is, you will lose that customer’s lifetime value afterwards. What’s even worse, in the age of Yelp and online reviews, is a customer can drive away 9 to 15 opportunities with a single bad review.
Small Business Trends: Let’s think about this. Because that customer puts their address in wrong, they might not get their package. If they get it, it’ll be late. So either case, it’s not good. And chances are that customer could be very upset. They can go to their Yelp account or to Twitter, might have thousands of followers too, and can basically flame you out because they didn’t get their product on time or get it at all. And it could’ve even been because they put their own address in wrong.
Elie Challita: Yep. Pretty easily.
Small Business Trends: So that customer experience, though not the company’s fault, could be impacted tremendously.
Elie Challita: Yes. The thing to remember is accidents happen and the customer doesn’t care whose fault it is, even if it was their fault. The company’s always the one who has to fix this afterwards.
Small Business Trends: Right.
Elie Challita: So when you can solve that problem by having a very simple piece of software running on top of your eCommerce platform, why would you not do it?
Small Business Trends: Then there’s the other case of Grandma. She might want barbeque sauce, and she’s in Japan. She could put her address in the way that they’re used to putting it in over there.
Elie Challita: Yes.
Small Business Trends: You could be in Texas. You get that order, and you see this. It’s a perfectly good address, it’s just not in the format that you’re used to seeing.
Elie Challita: It might not even be in the same language honestly. Not to disparage USPS or FedEx, but I don’t expect the average operator to decode a Japanese address if they’re working at a shipping center in Dallas.
Small Business Trends: So it could be the case of everybody’s right, but the package still doesn’t get there…and guess what? The customer’s going to flame you out again on Yelp.
Elie Challita: Ecommerce companies have a lot to lose from every single mistake. Even when there’s no mistake, you’ll lose quite a bit because you’re uniquely vulnerable to your customers nowadays.
Small Business Trends: Bottom line, a lot of folks are spending a lot of time/effort on customer experience. They could do all that and still really mess up. Or at least miss out on a key piece just because they don’t have the correct address.
Elie Challita: Exactly. Unless you can fulfill the core aspect of your business, which is getting that purchase to the customer’s doorstep, you’re at risk. No matter what else you do.
Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about Loqate?
Elie Challita: I suggest going to our website, Loqate.com.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.