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How Discover Card Uses Voice Of The Customer To Improve Digital Experience

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Discover Card is a leading credit card issuer in the United States and also my employer from 2006 to 2015. My last role there, from April 2013 to November 2015, was head of digital customer experience and social media. During my tenure in that role, we launched many new digital initiatives and features, but we also used Voice of the Customer (VOC) and Actions of the Customer (AOC) data to identify and eliminate customer pain points. 

Related: VOC vs. AOC

From cardmember behavioral data (AOC), Discover learned that the desire to check on recent transactions was a top reason people logged in to the website. Qualitative research (VOC) confirmed this trend, with customers saying they just wanted to ensure they were getting charged what they thought they were getting charged (i.e., the waiter at the restaurant didn’t add on an extra tip).

The problem? It was too difficult to access recent transactions on the website. It wasn’t immediately clear where to go, and the user had to click two or three times to get there.

Discover’s answer? Create a Facebook-like feed on the homepage which contained the latest ten card transactions. So as soon as customers logged in, they saw their balance due, their rewards balance, and the last ten transactions they had made on the card.

Almost immediately, an amazing thing happened: Hundreds of thousands of customers logged in, didn’t click anything, and logged off.

An e-commerce retailer would call that phenomenon a “bounce,” which Google Analytics defines as “a single-page session on your site . . . calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”

Generally, “bounce rate” is considered a negative score as it is a measure of site relevancy. But since this was a private page (one behind the login page), the change did not affect search engine results.

At Discover, we celebrated the high “bounce rate” because we knew the change had delivered exactly what customers wanted. They were immediately logging out because they had found what they were looking for almost immediately.

Customer satisfaction scores for the website skyrocketed, and not coincidentally, that was the year Discover won the coveted J.D. Power Award for Customer Satisfaction—the results of which depend heavily on website interactions—for the first time in the survey’s existence. (The company has since won the award five times, and placed second by 1 point in the 2021 survey.)

One thing that Discover understood: People don’t want to visit their credit card website. So when they have to, they want the experience to be over as fast as possible. Unless you are Starbucks or Disney or Netflix, chances are that is true about your website too.

Discover also used a survey widget on every page of its website. It allowed users to click on a feedback icon, score their interaction, and leave comments. We received dozens and sometimes hundreds of comments every day, with tens of millions of customers logging in monthly or more often.

This “voice of the customer” feedback was compiled into a report that was distributed every day to the digital team and various other executives.

The report made it easy to identify urgent issues that needed addressing immediately because many similar comments would appear on the same day. But it was harder to see more infrequent trends that maybe only showed up every few days with one or two customers complaining.

Related: 6 Tips for Making Customer Insights Actionable

To address this, we added a single question to each survey: “How easy was it to use the Discover Card website today?” The quantitative question, answered on a scale of one to seven, was based on the Forrester Customer Experience Index. Forrester previously asked a similar question on the brand level in its surveys as one of three key components of an annual ranking (Forrester has since changed its methodology).

After about six weeks of collecting the data, I asked for a report listing every page of the website (there were thousands) in order of the average ease-of-use score. Immediately, I turned to the back page and looked at the pages with the worst scores—in other words, the ones that customers said made it most difficult to use the Discover site.

The absolute bottom-ranking page turned out to be a very important one—the “Refer a Friend” page where cardmembers could enter the names and email addresses of their friends and earn $50 each for them and their friend if the friend signed up for a Discover Card.

I then dug into the recent customer comments from just that page, and a previously unidentified trend surfaced immediately: On one particular browser, the “Submit” button was not displaying.

Imagine asking customers to recommend their friends, having them enter names and email addresses, and then not being able to submit them!

As the head of digital customer experience, I was mortified. The fix was quick and easy from a technology perspective, and immediately thereafter, the Refer a Friend page’s ease-of-use scores returned to normal.

What I did next took some people by surprise: I ran through the same exercise for the bottom 100 pages.

We found so many little pain points that were easy to fix but had enormous impact on customer satisfaction scores—and the J.D. Power survey.

One trick that worked well with the technology team: asking to “borrow” a programmer for two weeks to focus on all of these small changes, which together added up to a decent-sized project with significant impact. Otherwise, we would have never gotten a bunch of small fixes prioritized against larger projects.

Excerpt from The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share (Morgan James Publishing), available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Porchlight Books, Target, Walmart, and more. Image by JJuni from Pixabay.

Become a Discover Cardmember and get a $50 Statement Credit when you make your first purchase within three months using my Refer-A-Friend link. (Amazon and Discover links are affiliate links but do not affect your price.)

Related: Why Website Accessibility Is Critical To The Digital Experience

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