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The goals of the Primus Web site are to retain existing customers, draw new ones and lower Primus' customer support costs. To meet these goals the Web site is being designed around a multi-point value package, described below.
The components of the value offering are:
1) Stress-free experience for site visitors and customers
2) Professional quality research
3) Readily available quotes, available via a variety of media
4) Tools to allow customers to manage their portfolios
5) Customized advisory services
6) Online investment "workshop" experiences
Service Selection Process
During the previous three quarters Primus selected service offerings based on available budget, one-time and recurring costs, and labor costs. Most importantly, we tried to select services that we thought would offer the best value to existing and prospective clients, bringing them to the site to transact business. The following table shows the services we chose and some of the reasons behind our selections.
(NYSE 1-minute delay) Helps customers keep up with the current state of the market. May update to Quote.com at a later date, but Q1 budget would not support the move at this time.
(Outsourced) Financial research resource for customers. Outsourcing chosen because recurring costs were lower, and providing this service with in-house resources would not significantly improve the quality of the service.
Portfolio Tracker Serious investors need tools to help manage their portfolios. This feature was required to make the Primus site competitive.
Co-Hosting This was more expensive than shared hosting. It was chosen anyway because security and availability are critical for a financial-services site.
Stock Alerts These were added based on extensive customer demand. Customers want these services and tend to trade first with the service provider.
(Volume Discounts) Volume discounts encourage more trading and trading in larger blocks. They also bring in new customers.
(Moderated) The discussion board gives users a sense of community. By moderating the discussions, Primus maintains visibility, is able gather marketing data, and is able to influence the quality of discussions.
(Paid) This is another customer research service. Making this a paid service helps cover the costs of providing it. It improves the quality of the dialog between the advisor and the customer, and more often leads to transactions than free advice.
(Weekly) This is another way to provide access to expert services. Weekly chat was chosen over daily chat because of budget constraints.
Webcasts This is relatively new. Not many Web sites offer it yet because of bandwidth constraints. It was chosen to draw more customers to the Web site and to help differentiate the Primus service package.
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"Primus Web Site Design." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Jun 2019
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Human Resources Investment
No services were selected or rejected based on labor costs, however careful consideration was given to whether to build needed professional talent in-house or to instead outsource.
The services Primus decided to offer are listed in Table 2 with the labor resources required to support them. Consideration was made as to whether to hire in-house or to outsource based on opportunities for shared costs and frequency of use. No labor costs were associated with the offer of Price Incentives.
(in-house) Maintenance Programmer
(outsource) Graphic Designer
Ticker x x x
News/Views x x x x x
Portfolio Tracker x x x
Stock Alerts x x x
Price Incentives - - - - -
Discussion Board x x x
Email Advice x x x x
Live Chat x x x
Webcasts x x x
The System Administrator, Maintenance Programmer and Webmaster were required for just about every service. Since these professionals were tightly tied to the day-to-day operations of the Web site and their costs could be shared across the entire spectrum of services, they were hired as in-house employees.
The Editor is responsible only to format the news-feeds and advice scripts. This was not a full-time job and did not require intimate knowledge of the Primus operations, so the Editing function was outsourced. The Graphic Designer was only required for periodic page-design tasks, so this function was also outsourced.
Custom Advice through E-Mail
We expected free advice to draw more customers to the Web site. Based on the assumption that increased traffic would lead to higher transaction-volume, we expected free advice to generate more revenue than paid advice. We were partly right. The hits/sticks statistics were better for free advice, but the revenues and profitability were not. The lack of profitability was not especially surprising. We expected that higher revenues for the free service might not offset the costs of providing the service. We did not expect revenues to be lower under the free service.
In hindsight, the lower revenues can be explained in two ways: 1) Under the paid service model the service representative was allowed to put in the time and effort to offer higher-quality advice than under the free system. 2) Paid service was perceived by the clients as higher-quality.
Under the paid service clients got, or thought they were getting, better information, so they were more willing to engage in transactions. The lesson here was that the "quality" of customer interactions with the Web site determined the rate at which hits and sticks were converted to transactions. As an added bonus, charging for the service helped offset the costs of providing it.
Primus is building customer profiles from its existing account records. Additional information is being gathered through its Web site and phone contacts. Users are invited by mail and over the phone to visit the Web site. While there they are offered an opportunity to fill out a survey to help improve the quality of the site. Participants are rewarded with one free access of the Email Advice service.
Site search engine data and FAQ hits are being monitored and and analyzed to see what information users are most interested in. When users call on the phone to place orders they are invited to respond to a short survey about whether they use the Web site and what kinds of improvements they would like to see. If they have not been to the Web site they are invited to do so.
From this information Primus will attempt to classify customers according to their "user persona" (Rayport-Jaworski, 2003, p. 312). The persona is the "human representation" of the site-user. Next, Primus will outline the "user intentions" (p. 314). In other words, what are the customers' general goals when they log onto the Web site? What will they need to be able to do?
From this list the "functionality and content matrix" can be built. This matrix describes what functions the Web site will need to support (p. 317). The selection of services will revolve around the functionality and content matrix.
To bring new users to the site, Primus will explore ways to improve its position on search engines, like Yahoo and Google. Primus will seek co-sponsorship agreements with other financial-services providers. The mix of co-sponsors will be designed to provide users of the Primus site with access to a complete array of financial services. Candidates include tax consultants, estate planners, and financial advisors.
Traditional mass media may also be used. Magazine and radio advertising will be used first. Television advertising is very expensive, so it will be considered only if a strong case can be made that it will dramatically increase the number of Web site hits and the number of hits that will result in transactions.
Visitors to the Primus site will be invited to opt-in for customized e-mail. Subscribers will be allowed to select from a variety of information sources, including Primus, its co-sponsors, and a variety of content providers.
The best form of advertising for the Primus Web site is the Primus Web site. If the Web site is properly planned and designed it should give the users a strong positive experience, encouraging them to return and choose Primus as their preferred service provider.
Through its current services Primus offers existing customers and visitors access to a wealth of information about finance and investing. The trade discounts will encourage new users to give Primus a try. Superior customer service will retain existing customers and promote positive word-of-mouth advertising.
Rayport-Jaworski. (2003). Introducton to e-Commerce, Second Edition. McGRaw-Hill.
Developing a Business Website simulation. (2005). Retrieve from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu