Release Date: 14 September 2006
Release ID: 875
What's the secret to building a web site that actually helps customers and keeps them coming back for more? In a story that ran in this week's issue of BtoB Magazine, DHL's U.S. web site, http://www.dhl-usa.com, was featured as one of the "10 Great Websites" of 2006 for its focus on the customer. It's no secret that an on-line presence is the price of entry for almost any business, but a close partnership with current and potential users of your web site during every step of the design process is the catalyst for online success.
BtoB Magazine put DHL's U.S. web site to the test with leading online marketing experts and usability consultants. According to these experts, the DHL site was chosen as a top web site due to its ease of navigation, embodiment of the corporate brand, and ease of accomplishing business-oriented tasks.
"In just the first year since the launch of the site, DHL has seen a 7% increase in online shipping transactions," said Mike Heilman, VP of eCommerce for DHL. "Smart web site development isn't about creating slick features and posting marketing material. We're able to consistently win customers based on a superior customer web experience that focuses on customers' transactional needs and exceeds the expectations of visitors to the site," noted Heilman.
While DHL's U.S. web site underwent a major re-design in May of 2005, it is continually assessed and enhanced based on customer use, usability studies, reporting tools for scenario analysis, and customer feedback forms. In 2005, the DHL U.S. web site recorded over 91 million visits, with over 42 million shipments sent online.
Following is an overview of the specific DHL U.S. web site features that were noted by DHL customers and BtoB's usability and marketing experts for user friendliness:
-- Navigation That Makes Sense
Navigation of http://www.dhl-usa.com is based on customer feedback about logical chains of events that occur when shipping a package. Web designers focused on creating "task paths" that supported user needs, reducing visual clutter on the screen and ensuring that text and images made sense together.
-- Segmenting Users by Persona
The site was designed specifically to adapt services to differing customer environments and individual needs. In creating the site, DHL defined typical user personalities and then examined how those personas utilize the site. This helped DHL's web development team create a "blended use" site - one that works just as well for an ad hoc shipper as for an executive at a large company making a decision about which shipping company to use.
-- Transactional, Not Marketing
Since DHL customers most often use tracking and pickup features, transactional functions are given priority over promotional elements and figure most prominently within the site. All transactional functions are directly accessible from the home page. The result is a web site that gives customers the information they want most on the homepage, which has improved the rate of online transactions for DHL.
-- Real-Time Experience
The DHL U.S. web site accesses DHL's operational databases directly, so customers can track their shipments in real time without delays.
-- Speak the Customers' Language
Terminology used on the DHL U.S. web site such as "Get a Quote" and "Track It" come directly from customer studies on the language customers typically use, rather than using company terminology of a more technical nature.
-- Get Help Without "Help"
The site allows DHL customers to get help within a given module on the site, rather than searching around within a general "help" section. For example, specific help on getting a quote is immediately available in the "Get a Quote" section.
DHL continues to upgrade its web site regularly for customers to make it quicker and easier to establish accounts, arrange pickups, prepare and track shipments, order supplies, and view rates and transit times. DHL also offers web-based tools and other resources for shippers from http://www.dhl-usa.com, such as news and tips for small businesses at the DHL Small Business Resource Center, and information and tools to simplify international trade and import/export regulations at the DHL International Trade Center.
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