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Monday, Apr. 2, 2007 at 7:30 am

Measuring the “Piss-Off Factor” — Part II

By Holly Buchanan
April 2nd, 2007

Okay… So, the methodical types have called me out on my last post. While I explained the “Piss-Off Factor,” I didn’t explain how to measure it. Although “measure” was indeed in the title, I didn’t mean it in the web analytics sense; rather, I was hoping to get people thinking about the customer experience as a whole. More to the point, that what we can’t measure is sometimes more important than what we can.

For instance, my example that although a “live chat” option may improve conversion rates incrementally in some cases, this minor conversion boost says nothing of how many customers you’ve turned off by demanding they interact on your terms–if only to “close window” and be done with it. Even worse, a conversion boost from something like a pushy live chat could mask the fact that you’re annoying potential customers. Rather than being concerned, you’d likely think you’re adding value. (I’ll explain more in a moment.)

Still, I do love you guys. You keep me honest.

So, how do you actually measure your “Piss-Off Factor” (POF)?

Like anything else, in order to know how to fix it, you must first define the problem.

The reason POF is so dangerous is the simple fact that measuring POF is very difficult. In the online world, the customer experience is measured largely by analytics. Most companies try to understand their customers by analyzing data about customer behavior. Data can tell you what your customers are doing, but it cannot tell you why.

The other problem with data is it measures only what “is,” and not what “could be.” If the problem is something that exists on your website, then you have an easier chance measuring the POF factor. But sometimes it’s what’s missing that causes a problem. Something should be there that isn’t. How can you measure something that doesn’t exist? I have some thoughts on both.

Find Out Where You’re Pissing People Off:

Look at pages with high abandonment rates. How did the visitor get to that page? What link did they click? What was the verbiage of that link? What were they expecting to see? Did the link deliver on the promise?

EXAMPLE: You’re on a product page. You want to find out more about that particular product. You click on “Learn more about our products,” expecting to be taken to a page that gives more detail about, that’s right, the company’s products. But instead, you’re taken to a product category page that only lists their products with little or no information. You wanted to “learn more,” but the link didn’t deliver on its promise. (A more accurate link would have been “See our products.”)

Check for copy that sounds “sales-y.” What verbiage are you using that’s turning them off? Look for any language that sounds like canned hype. At best, customers are ignoring it. At worst, it makes you seem pushy and fake.

EXAMPLE: “Better than money-back guarantee!” sounds like a gimmick. Instead, try “Money back guarantee. We mean it.” AND if you say you’re the “best,” you’d better have proof to back it up. Grandiose, unsubstantiated claims turn people off.

Mine your customer communications. Look at emails, monitor phone calls, and pay close attention to live chat sessions. Talk to customer service reps, sales people, and anyone else who has direct customer contact. What issues are your customers having? What questions are they asking? What are their objections? Make sure that you’re answering their questions and addressing their objections on the website.

EXAMPLE: You have a subscription model, and you charge a membership fee. Other competitors offer a similar service for free. A common customer objection is “Why should I have to pay?” Make sure you have verbiage on your site, at the Point of Action, that either explains or explicitly says “Here’s why you should pay.” Clearly explain why you’re different from the free site and list out the specific benefits members get with your paid memberships. Ignoring objections and not answering your customers’ questions will piss them off.

Gain customer insight through usability testing. I say this with some trepidation. The artificial environment of many usability tests can taint the results. But it can be useful when you’re too familiar with your products and website and need a fresh perspective on how customers approach and use your site.

EXAMPLE: You think a Call to Action is perfectly clear, yet the visitor has to look really hard to find it.

Only ask for the personal information you absolutely must have. The more personal information you ask for, the more you’ll piss off would-be customers. Ask for the minimum and be very clear about why you need that information and what you’ll do with it.

EXAMPLE: My personal pet peeve is when sites ask for a title “Mr., Mrs., or Ms.” I’m not a Mrs., but I despise Ms. Men can just click “Mr.” But for women, why do you need my marital status?

See what blogs are saying about you. Search the blogosphere to see if anyone is talking about their experience with your website or product.

As far as exit surveys go, proceed with caution. You can get some very valuable information, but they can also increase your POF.

What You’re NOT Doing That’s Pissing People Off:

This one is a lot more tricky. What is it that your customers want from you that they’re not getting? What are they looking for that they cannot find? What deeper motivations do they have that you are not addressing?

This is where the “data” problem intensifies. This is where “what” your customers are doing is little or no help; it doesn’t provide the deeper customer insight you need.

That’s why Future Now developed Persuasion Architectureâ„¢ (click to download the white paper). The methodology gives you deeper insight into your customers and allows you to see your website through their eyes. We do this by creating customer personas.

Personas allow you to view your site through the eyes not of your “average” customer, but from the viewpoint of different customer buying modalities taking into account different needs, motivations, knowledge levels, and goals. What one customer likes may actually turn off another customer. One customer may only need one question answered; another may need lots of questions answered.

In my experience, personas are by far the best way to truly look at your website from your customer’s idiosyncratic points of view. Plus, it takes into account different points of view and allows you map out what’s missing–and what “could be.”

EXAMPLE: If you’re a wireless company selling phones on the Internet, customer personas will have differing buying needs. Some are very knowledgeable about these phones. Some are not as knowledgeable. Some care about having lots of cool features like Internet access, taking pictures, etc. Another persona may care about personalized ringtones. Read about my experience with Verizon Wireless to get a sense of how what’s missing is actually causing a high POF.

To sum it all up: Use the suggestions above to gain insight into what you’re currently doing that’s causing a high POF. If you want to know what you’re NOT doing that is causing a high POF, consider creating personas to give you the deeper insight that data and analytics can’t provide.

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Comments (7)

  1. [...] * Are you pissing-off your users? Make sure you know how to measure the pissyness. (No, that probably isn’t a real word) [...]

  2. [...] it out- I ran the following three posts through it: "Measuring the Piss-Off Factor" "Measuring the Piss-Off Factor, Part II" "Marketing in the [...]

  3. Holly, if more consumers actually cared about what their customers or potential customers really want, it would make the e-world of shopping a much pleasant experience. It would also help to keep customers coming back. I would say the same for outside consumers and businesses. Customer Service is under-rated and taken for granted. I feel like this, anytime you were working directly with the public, you should always keep in mind that the customer is always right, even when they are wrong. There’s a certain mentality that one should have in order to show good rather, “excellent” customer service. As my pastor often says, “money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is”. And you can take that to the bank. For the e-businesses, everyone is not Computer Savvy; therefore, just tell us what we want and we’ll be much happier people. Luckily for me, I am very computer savvy; however, many sites often P me off.

  4. [...] – Warning against Being TOO Aggressive with Live Chat and How to Tell When You’re Being Too [...]

  5. This is actually true. Even though the POF is a bit funny. People who search for the same keywords dont really do so with the same things in mind all the time. Someone might be looking for something completely different than what you think they are.

  6. I actually agree with you since we must always agree with the consumers or customers we say since if we argue in the sense that they are wrong then we may be violating some of our business strategies and losing some valuable customers who may have been a good asset for us in the future of our business..we must always have in our mind that consumers are the one for which we are still alive…

  7. [...] Page prior and broken scent? If you find a high exit rate page, look at the most popular entry paths to that page. Look for mismatches between expectations in moving from the prior page to the exit page. What were visitors hoping to find on that exit page and what did they actually find? Was the hyperlink misleading or was the content simply anemic? Try to figure out the factor that annoyed them. [...]

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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