In this article, we look at how insights can be gathered from customer feedback and used to improve conversion rates.
A/B testing and user testing can deliver excellent insights into user behavior and allow you to improve your online performance, but don’t forget the importance of asking your users for direct feedback.
This direct feedback from customers can help to improve site performance, but can also provide insight into other areas of the business and provide help with branding, SEO and merchandising.
Visitor surveys do have some advantages over some other Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) methods, including:
- Speed of insights. With on-site or email surveys you start gaining useful insights straight away. Unlike A/B testing or analytics, there’s no need to wait for a statistically significant number of results to be collected.
- Precision of insights. Your users can pinpoint the problems they are having on your site and the precise point in the journey where they occurred. In some cases, a precise piece of feedback can make a real difference.
What to Ask Your Visitors
Avinash Kaushik picks out three essential questions to ask visitors to your site:
- What was the purpose of your visit today? This can give you an idea of the kinds of things visitors are looking to achieve, as well as some insight on traffic sources.
- Were you able to complete your task? This gives the visitor a chance to tell you how well they think your site is performing.
- If you were not able to complete your task today, why not? This lets the customer describe the problems they’ve had and suggest possible solutions.
It can also be a good idea to ask the ‘Net Promoter’ question: ‘How likely are you to recommend this site to a colleague or friend?’ so you can calculate your Net Promoter Score.
Also, though the questions suggested by Avinash will be useful for many surveys, some surveys are for specific purposes and questions need to be tailored to them.
For example, emails with abandonment surveys sent after customers abandon a purchase can help to gain some insight into the reasons for this.
In addition, there is a balance to be struck between asking lots of ‘free text’ questions and offering multiple choices as in the example above.
To much free text (and indeed too many questions) can seem like more work for the user, which may lead to fewer people completing surveys.
Like web forms, there needs to be a balance gathering some useful information and making surveys easy for people to complete.
However, it should be noted that you can learn a lot from a relatively small number of responses. If just one or two customers identify a problem that is potentially losing you sales, this can be enough.
Where to Use Surveys
Placement and timing of surveys is crucial if you want to get the best response from users and avoid the risk of interrupting their journey.
I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of surveys popping up when you’re on the homepage or when you’re busy searching for products.
Perhaps this is accidental on many occasions, but it’s bad placement and likely to be counter-productive in some cases.
It’s important not to distract users from selecting products or placing an order, so placing a survey on the order confirmation page is one option. This mean you can gain some insights from customers.
The downside with this is that you aren’t receiving feedback from buying who didn’t buy, or were unable to.
To solve this problem, you can trigger a survey when customers are about to leave the site or abandon a purchase or booking – when the cursor moves towards the back button for example.
Visitors can then be asked about the page they had issues with, or how likely they are to return to complete a purchase.
Free text boxes can also allow customers to outline any specific problems they may have had, or suggestions for improvements.
Email is another great option for gathering customer feedback. Again, you can gather feedback from people who actually made a purchase, or from visitors who abandoned their shopping cart.
Here, House of Fraser asks for feedback after an order I placed online and collected in-store.
It’s good that they’re open about the time it takes to complete, but a survey that takes 10 minutes to complete is likely to deter a few potential respondents.
Abandonment surveys can be sent to customers that have left the site without competing a purchase.
Often, the initial focus after abandonment is to tempt customers back to a purchase, but it’s also worth following up with a survey as this can yield some valuable feedback which can help retailers to reduce abandonment in future.
Learning from Customer Feedback
The process of gaining customer feedback only works if the feedback is analysed properly and recommendations put into practice.
This means the processes have to be in place to collect customer feedback from a range of sources, along with the right people to analyse the feedback and use their judgement and experience to recommend actions to be taken.
It’s important not to look at user comments in isolation, but instead to use them in connection with other sources of information. For example, user comments about issues during checkout can be combined with data on how those pages perform from analytics.
In this way, problems identified by customers can be diagnosed more clearly. Perhaps the problem can be connected with a specific customer segment, or users of a particular browser or mobile device for example.
After this, user testing could be used to confirm the issue before retailers make the required changes.
The advantage here is that user feedback can help you find things that you would never have found with analytics alone.
Not all comments will relate to website issues or other problems, but they can still be valuable in other ways.
For examples, there may (hopefully) be plenty of positive responses. These can be shared within the company to give people a pat on the back for the good work they’ve done, and they can also be used to learn about what customers see as your strengths.
Then there may be comments about products they looked for but couldn’t find, which provides potentially valuable information for your buyers or product teams. Site search data can be used in a similar way.
There’s a wealth of information to be uncovered from direct user feedback, and this should form part of any conversion optimization strategy.
Indeed, no single CRO process should be used in isolation. The most successful companies tend to use a range of methods to improve performance.
It’s about finding the blend of complementary techniques that produces the best results for the particular website or app you’re looking to improve.
User surveys are easy to implement and offer direct customer feedback. Used on their own, they can provide some useful insights, but combining them with other CRO techniques is the way to achieve maximum impact.
Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.