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Customer Experience Q&A: Etsy’s Abby Covert, Information Architect

Harley Manning
Harley Manning
Vice President, Research Director
May 30, 2018

If you care about CX, you have to admire Etsy. It was the top digital retailer in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index™ in 2017. It excels at differentiating itself with a unique set of products and a distinctive online store, where buyers routinely upload pictures of their purchases alongside gushing reviews. Unsurprisingly, Etsy is also one of the top retailers for evoking positive emotions among customers, across both digital and multichannel stores.

That’s why we’re delighted to have Abby Covert delivering a keynote at CXNYC 2018. She’s a highly regarded information architect and the author of How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody. In advance of the event, we asked her a few questions about the importance of CX to Etsy. Here are her answers:

Forrester: What’s the primary business benefit of improving customer experience for Etsy?

AC: Providing a good customer experience is the key to our business. For Etsy, I often think about the two sides of the marketplace and how the customer experience of one side impacts the other. For example, the better our seller experience, the more amazing items our buyers will have access to. The better our buyer experience, the more they can support our sellers in their creative endeavors.

Forrester: Given the increased focus on customer experience throughout your industry, is it actually possible to differentiate through CX?

AC: I think there is absolutely space to differentiate on CX. Our customers have choices, and I believe that providing a good customer experience can be the deciding factor when it comes to what brands to be loyal to.

Forrester: What, if anything, is different about what you’re doing now to improve customer experience versus what you did a few years ago?

AC: I think the biggest change in the last few years at Etsy has been our increased attention to looking at our customer experience from many angles. We are better today at connecting qualitative and quantitative research, and our Voice of the Customer program is connecting those proactive insights with what we hear about in our reactive listening channels, like customer service, community outreach, and social media.

Forrester: How do you measure the success of your customer experience improvement efforts?

AC: We take a multipronged approach to measuring customer experience outcomes, including conventional CX metrics (e.g., NPS, CES, likelihood to return) as well as more business performance-oriented measures (like gross merchandise sales and customer lifetime value). We also devote a lot of focus to measuring brand perceptions (e.g., via brand tracking surveys and post-purchase surveys) and mapping out how perceptions of brand attributes at various stages of the customer journey affect retention and loyalty over time.

Forrester: Where do you think your industry will be with regards to customer experience quality in five years?

AC: I predict that in the next five years companies with a true commitment to their customers will be succeeding at whatever goals they set, while those who underprioritize their customers will be on the wrong side of achieving those goals. Customers are getting more savvy every day, and their options for how they spend their time and money are increasing. They are much more likely to ask questions, not just about your product but about your values. I think the time for answering those questions is upon us, and those that answer those questions honestly and with their customers in mind have the best chance of rising to the top.

If you’d like to hear more from Abby Covert, come see her and other great speakers on the main stage in New York on June 19 and 20. If you haven’t already done so, you can register here.

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