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David Sollberger

Decoding Digital: David Sollberger and ‘the Importance of listening to customers’

David Sollberger, an e-commerce and optimisation specialist from Farnell Global, will be one of Door4’s featured speakers at the next Decoding Digital event, The customer (experience) is always right, on 9 September.
Here, David talks about how he utilises offline experience gives him an edge with online UX, plus how important it is to listen to customers.

Hi David! For those not familiar with your work, could you tell us about what you do?

I actually came on board in my current role last November and have been working from home a lot – there are members of my team I’m still looking forward to meeting in person.
But I’ve been working with different teams within the business, coaching, implementing strategies and ways of working to form an effective optimisation practice, designing tests to uncover insights – and most importantly, talking to customers.
It’s an exciting role in a business that is undergoing a structural transformation to more agile processes – and it’s definitely something that draws on my experience in product management and UX.

And without wanting to be rude, presumably that experience pre-dates e-commerce?

Yes, I actually started out in print management in the travel industry, which was very catalogue focused at the time. So there were certainly some of the same processes involved – deciding on optimal layouts, presenting products in the best fashion and so on.
And as the industry moved online, with the development of simple booking engines and product listings, I was able to transfer these skills and evolve as technology and customer needs became more sophisticated.

Has that offline experience given you an advantage in what you do today?

Undoubtedly – I didn’t have access to any of the digital tools and disciplines available today – but it also meant I wasn’t limited by them. I understood the importance of talking to customers, then being creative and innovative to solve their problems.
I can write code and design tests – but not being from a purely tech background definitely helps me step back to look at the whole user journey and figure out where the web fits in.

Do you do many industry events like this one?

I’ve done plenty of speaking in front of audiences with organisations I’ve worked with, so I’m very comfortable – but it’s not something I’ve done much for an audience of strangers.
But I’ve been keen to share some of the insights I’ve developed over the years more widely though, so when the opportunity came up to take part in Decoding Digital I was keen.
I’ve known Leon for a while now and we share some of the same ideas on the importance of optimisation and customer experience.

Without giving too much away, is that what you’ll be talking about?

There’ll be a digital focus to it but I’ll probably highlight that the value of good UX isn’t restricted to the online environment and of course the importance of listening to customers.
In my experience, many businesses still underestimate the value of good user experience, investing heavily in attracting traffic but still offering a poor experience on site – which can result in a higher cost per customer acquisition, leaving revenue on the table

Many businesses still underestimate the value of good user experience

Traditionally maybe UX was harder to measure in terms of its contribution to the bottom line but that’s not the case today. I’ve worked with teams to literally double sales and conversion rates by ensuring that what happens online reflects what customers expect and need – in turn directly supporting the aims of the business.
So it should be useful for any owners and managers responsible for ecommerce or digital products – or anyone who is keen to learn the true value of good UX.

Sounds very interesting – is there anything in the industry that has excited or intrigued you personally recently?

It’s been a strange couple of years in ecommerce for obvious reasons – I think there’s a continued shift in some sectors towards more flexible and unique experiences – enabled by the move to ‘headless’ commerce and similar tech that facilitates a more tailored journey and relevant content.
A lot of businesses have realised that a linear ‘one size fits all’ approach may not be right for customers, which is a good thing.
But it’s also important to beware of buzzwords – hyper-personalisation doesn’t necessarily have to be everything if it’s not what customers need.

Do the work at the start to understand what customer needs are

Obviously personalisation is useful and customers benefit from it – but it’s more important than ever to do the work at the start to understand what customer needs are and how these best align to the aims of the business.
Plenty of the tools are more accessible these days – heatmaps, behavioural analytics user surveys and so on – but they need to be used in the right way to answer the right questions.
Creating the content is easier than ever – but if you don’t begin by listening to your customers and measuring the right metrics, it’ll always be a challenge.

Book onto ‘The customer (experience) is always right’

David Sollberger, plus Conrad Grimshaw and Simon Iredale will be sharing insight into how optimal UX/CX leads to positive commercial outcomes – register now.

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