BetaSphere Delivers FedEx Some Customer Feedback

FRAMINGHAM (04/03/2000) - Since launching its Web site in 1994 to make it easier for consumers and businesses to access its services, Federal Express Corp. hasn't slowed down its push to improve customer satisfaction.

In fact, FedEx says it's so committed to giving its customers the best possible service, it has hired BetaSphere Inc., a Palo Alto, California-based provider of Web-based customer-feedback software and services, to implement customer feedback programs to evaluate the FedEx Web site.

"Our studies show that customer satisfaction improves when we are able to incorporate their feedback before we [launch new services]," said David Roussain, vice president of e-commerce marketing at the Memphis-based shipping company.

BetaSphere has been recruiting FedEx customers from around the world to evaluate FedEx's Web site for ease of use and navigation, explained Phil Davis, vice president of sales and marketing at BetaSphere, which began working with the shipping company about a year ago.

The bottom line, he said, is to gather customer feedback that will help FedEx make changes to its Web site to improve customer satisfaction.

During BetaSphere's customer feedback study, evaluators are asked about the accessibility and content of the information on the Web site. They are also questioned about the quality of the presentation and ease of navigation, explained Claire Ruddy, manager at FedEx.com.

One U.S. customer pointed out that most people visit the site to track their packages and suggested that FedEx put the package-tracking window right on the home page.

"And we did that," said Ruddy.

FedEx also took the advice of another U.S. customer and developed an online application that lets customers order supplies.

"We learn what the customer wants," said Ruddy. "We want them to drive our products. In addition to the testing done by BetaSphere, we talk to our customers online on a daily basis."

FedEx's attention to its customers' needs is paying off. The number of customers who used the Web site to ship packages has tripled since February 1999, according to company spokeswoman Sally Davenport. And in the same time, the amount of people who used the site's package tracking function grew by 202 percent.

"FedEx has done a great job at not only producing a first-rate site, but of implementing ideas put forth by beta testers," said Simon Lidbetter, a former employee at U.K.-based Montal Computer Service Ltd., a Fed-Ex customer and recent Beta-Sphere program participant.

Keeping Up With the Competition

FedEx isn't the only shipping company committed to improving its customers' experiences. Arch rival United Parcel Service of America Inc. in Atlanta also understands the value of keeping its customers happy.

UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said the company conducts ongoing market research on the customer experience, including telephone surveys and focus groups, to gather their feedback. Customers can also leave suggestions at the UPS Web site, she said.

John Fontanella, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston, said it's important for shipping companies to keep their customers happy. "[UPS and FedEx] are keeping up with the current state of the industry," he said.

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