When customers won't comment: How to encourage customer feedback
When it comes to collecting customer feedback, brands shouldn't fret about the odd negative review. It should be about about getting the numbers up.
Reviews are big news. It’s been found that 97% of online shoppers say that they’re influenced by reviews. Indeed, 85% of people rely on reviews as much as they do personal recommendations from friends and family.
A more recent study has also found that product reviews are the most important factor influencing purchase (88%), over brand name (71%), social influencers (10%) and celebrity endorsements (5%).
The evidence is clear: if you’re selling something, whether on or offline - 56% of consumers read reviews on their mobile devices while browsing in-store – you need reviews to help convince your customers they’re making the right decision before they pull out their wallets.
So how can businesses get customers to feedback? The short answer is to make it really, really easy. But if you’re looking for a bit more detail than that, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when attempting to gather feedback about your customers’ shopping experiences:
1. Keep it anonymous
People are more likely to leave honest feedback – and trust that feedback from others is honest – when it’s completely anonymous. This anonymity would put a further roadblock in the path to cheating businesses paying for false positives. And perhaps just as importantly, it prevents over-eager managers pursuing customers who left a negative review.
2. Don’t worry too much about the occasional negative review
A really interesting note is that customers pay far more attention to the sheer volume of reviews than they do to the number of negative reviews. Out of two products with the same score, shoppers will tend to opt for the one with the most ratings, even though the statistics means there’s more chance the poor ratings are accurate. In fact, products with only perfect ratings are mistrusted as too good to be true – having a few lower ratings in there appear to be more convincing.
3. Don’t offer time-consuming surveys
When it comes to the shopping experience, shorter is often better. With only 82 minutes of free time each day, shoppers aren’t usually willing to spend precious minutes filling out surveys — especially if there’s nothing in it for them.
Although much is made of the potential insights that could be generated by lengthy online or in-store surveys, these methods often fall short of expectations. In many cases, the responses to these surveys are less accurate because customers complete them simply for the incentive, without any regard for providing genuine feedback.
Almost seven out of 10 customers believe in-store surveys are inconvenient. Respondents complained that many surveys were either excessively long or contained leading questions. Make sure that you’re valuing the time of your customers by opting for surveys that are both simple and straightforward.
4. Know that less is more
While it may be tempting to ask multiple questions about a shopper’s experience in your store, one can get the job done. In fact, from our own data we know that a one-question survey at checkout can produce up to an 88% in-store response rate. By asking shoppers to answer one question instead of five or six, you can boost your chances of receiving a response.
However, using a one-question survey doesn’t mean you have to lose out on the insights gained by asking the number of questions you would in a longer survey. Instead, automatically rotate through a variety of questions that address different aspects of your grocery business, such as pricing, customer service and in-store experience. With the power of higher survey response rates, you can begin collecting valuable data on a real-time basis and quickly start to drive smarter decision-making for your store.
5. Don’t underestimate the value of the point of sale
Asking a single survey question to your customers right at the checkout can pave the way for more genuine, timely feedback. Using the point of sale as the place to gather customer feedback not only provides a convenient experience for customers, but it also helps ensure that the insights they provide are accurate.
With other survey options, such as using a receipt to prompt customers to complete an online survey, there’s a chance that the information you’ll receive won’t be as useful. That’s because even if a customer does complete the survey, he or she may do so long after the shopping experience has concluded. Hours, days or even weeks may pass before shoppers get around to a feedback survey. If customers can’t remember what they were thinking at the time of purchase, their responses won’t reflect reality.
6. Keep it simple
Once you ensure that customers don’t have to go out of their way to offer feedback, make things even easier by trading in open-ended questions, or those that ask for elaboration, for multiple-choice questions. Although one open-ended question may not seem like much, thoughtfully expanding upon a specific topic could take some time. Speed up the survey process with multiple-choice questions that enable customers to give their two cents in mere seconds.
Want another way to satisfy consumers’ need for speed? Try introducing a numerical rating system. By choosing between zero and nine on a keypad, customers can share their feedback with just the touch of a button.
And remember, the most important point is to collect honest feedback from genuine customers. Be prepared to listen to and act on what your customers are telling you – even if that it might mean occasionally hearing unpleasant truths.
Businesses that follow this advice have found it easier to make their customers happier, increase loyalty and retention, and ultimately spend.
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I was formerly a consumer rights lawyer at Europe’s largest consumers’ association, Which?, before founding TruRating in 2013 when I began to notice how influential online review sites were becoming and the make or break role they were playing for many businesses.
I was concerned that despite best intentions, feedback sites often just...