The rise of sophisticated data and reporting tools is providing tremendous insights for merchants. Etailers can now measure customer sentiment and even predict shoppers’ behavior.
But while such tools are indeed powerful, merchants should not rely on them alone. Merchants must not underestimate the power of reaching out and gathering feedback directly from customers.
Yes, etailers can likely infer what customers are thinking based on their behavior or purchase history. But some things are best understood when actually described by a person.
In addition, collecting feedback and talking to customers can strengthen your relationship with them. It shows that you care enough to reach out, something that is becoming increasingly rare.
This article will describe tips and tools for collecting comments or suggestions from customers.
Rating and review tools enable you to collect information at a per-item level. They give you a better idea what people like or dislike about your merchandise, and this information can be invaluable in product development, marketing, and merchandising.
Product ratings and reviews can help you determine whether you should introduce certain colors, sizes, or features. They can also identify misconceptions you may have about your products or your customers.
If you don’t have a feedback or rating system on your product pages yet, consider the following.
- Review-Script. An Amazon-style review system, Review-Script is licensed software that you can add to your store to enable customers to add comments and rate products from 1 to 5 stars. It sends email notifications when someone submits a review and it gives you the option to approve comments before they appear on the site. The software can be leased for $50 a year, or purchased for a one-time fee of $125.
- Product Reviews. If you’re running a Shopify site, consider Product Reviews, a free app that adds a theme-friendly review box to your product pages. Product Reviews can be easily customized without manual coding and can automatically match the design of your Shopify store. With Product Reviews, you can quickly manage, filter, and export reviews and also add product review scores to your search results on Google.
- Advanced Reviews. This popular Magento extension helps ensure the quality of reviews by allowing you to restrict them to customers who are logged in or who have actually purchased a product. Advanced Reviews helps customers, by making it easier to review products by checking pros and cons off a list, and by asking questions like “Would you recommend this product to a friend?” Advanced Reviews costs $99.
Social Media Monitoring
Monitoring social comments and customer feedback is essential. In addition to gaining insights on customer sentiment, reviewing and responding to comments received through social channels enables you to better control your reputation.
At the very least, ecommerce merchants should track comments about their companies using the native search features of social sites.
There are also a number of social search engines you can use to monitor mentions about your business. There’s Social Mention and UVRX, for instance, two free and simple services that let you conduct searches across various social sites and blogs.
When using these tools, put your search query inside quotation marks so that the system searches for the exact phrase rather than individual terms. For example, if your store’s name is Bright Purple Boutique, type it as “Bright Purple Boutique” to get more relevant results.
Email gives you the opportunity to engage in rich (but private) dialogues with customers. It’s always a good idea to use it as a follow-up tool to gain feedback on your products or customer service.
If you’re using a customer service or email marketing platform in your business, there’s a good chance that you already have the tools you need to leverage email for customer feedback.
Most email-marketing solutions let you create autoresponders, which you can use to automatically engage and gather comments from subscribers. You can, for example, send a “Tell us how we’re doing” email to each user, after the first month.
Meanwhile, Zendesk is a customer support solution that can automatically send messages to request ratings or reviews whenever a ticket is resolved, making it easier to evaluate your customer service in your company.
Live chat is useful for providing real-time answers and customer service. It can help you better understand the motives behind each shopper’s visit to your site. (I’ve addressed live chat previously, in “Implementing Live Chat: Dos and Don’ts.”) Live chat can answer questions like “What is this customer’s purpose for visiting the site?” or “How are shoppers finding everything?”
In turn, these insights can enable you to make better product recommendations or assist shoppers in navigating your site.
If you’re considering adding a live chat application on your website, options include LiveChat, Website Alive, and BoldChat. Such solutions are customizable, mobile friendly, and offer reporting features that give you the capabilities to analyze not just shopper data, but also your customer service.