Every eCommerce seller wants to get into the minds of their customers. In fact, roughly over £73bn is spent annually on marketing research by companies hoping to better understand customer feedback and reviews to identify what buyers want and need. In addition to this internal research, other customer insights can be gained by offering customer opinion surveys or by asking customers to feedback directly on their experience with a company using online reviews.
There are a number of tools out there today that can automate the feedback process – whether internal feedback (for your company’s eyes only) or external feedback (e.g., reviews that will be shared with the world). In this article, we’ll walk you through how to get customer feedback and online reviews, why it’s important, and the tools that can help.
Customer reviews versus customer feedback
Customer reviews and customer feedback are separate – though related. Let’s look at how they differ and how companies use each of them independently to achieve different means.
Customer feedback for internal insights
Asking for customer feedback can be a private matter between the company and its customers. It can be done in the form of a survey conducted by phone or online and can often be open-ended, asking customers to provide their written feedback on their experience with a company.
A popular way that companies ask for feedback is through NPS surveys. NPS stands for ‘Net Promoter Score’ and is often held as the gold standard for customer experience metrics. NPS measures the loyalty of a customer to a company using a single question survey and reporting it on a numerical scale. NPS surveys are used by millions of companies worldwide to measure how their customers perceive them.
It’s easy to implement NPS surveys because many tech tools available today offer such surveys, along with other analytics.
ChurnZero is one such tool, which offers health scores, alerts, and surveys to provide customer success teams with insights into a company’s customers.
Hotjar is another tool that measures and tracks NPS and customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores over time, along with a host of other customer data.
Hubspot’s Service Hub tool also gathers customer feedback in the form of qualitative surveys, including NPS surveys, to determine customer satisfaction.
In addition to gathering customer feedback, a company may wish to parse through the language customers are using to determine overall customer sentiment. A sentiment analysis tool such as Repustate and Lexalytics both use semantic search technology, which helps organise and report customer feedback in the form of sentiment, automatically interpreting whether feedback is positive, negative or neutral.
These tools automate the process of collecting customer feedback and analyse the insights, reporting them back to the internal customer success teams who rely on them. This means that the company needn’t use up manpower in contacting every single customer to conduct surveys, but rather that automation takes care of sending a survey to each customer once a certain action is triggered – for example, two weeks following a purchase or interaction with a customer service representative.
Customer reviews for external feedback
Customer reviews also tell a company how their customers perceive them and how they felt about their experience; however, unlike direct customer feedback, online reviews are public and can be seen by competitors and other potential customers.
Why would a company want to gamble on inviting customers to write reviews in this case? What if there’s a bad one that goes public and generates poor SEO for a company? This is always the risk that a company runs when inviting customers to write reviews; however, if the company is confident in its product and the customer service surrounding it, the potential payoff from customer reviews can be huge. In fact, 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 79% of shoppers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Like collecting customer feedback, customer reviews can also be automated using tech tools such as Trustpilot or Yotpo, which act as neutral third parties that prompt reviews from customers via email or SMS following an event (usually at the end of the customer journey, following a product purchase).
The importance of online customer reviews
Customer reviews are important for several reasons:
- They build brand awareness and credibility. More often than not, when a prospective customer sees a brand advertisement, they’ll type their name into a search engine to find out if the brand is legitimate and respected and to make sure the product isn’t a scam. Being able to read reviews left by real customers (verified through a third party like the aforementioned Trustpilot), prospects will have the peace of mind to proceed with the sale.
- Reviews generate trust. Genuine customers have no reason to provide reviews unless they feel particularly motivated to do so, and the review is a legitimate reflection of their experience with a company. Therefore, the more online reviews a company has (particularly positive ones) provides a strong testimonial for the company, its product, and its brand.
- They act as powerful sales content. Brands can display the reviews they’ve received from their customers directly on their website or social media, telegraphing to prospective customers that their product is tried and tested. In addition, including reviews on a company’s website improves the company’s SEO, resulting in better search engine visibility.
- They increase visibility. For eCommerce sellers who sell on third-party platforms such as eBay or Amazon, reviews are particularly crucial to reaching customers on those platforms. The higher a seller’s feedback score, the better, as it contributes significantly to winning the Amazon Buy Box and performance on eBay Best Match.
- Simply stated, reviews drive sales. Perhaps the most straightforward and important role of online reviews is their ability to increase sales. In a recent study, 97% of shoppers said reviews factor into their purchase decision, and another study found that, on average, reviews produce an 18% uplift in sales.
So, while it’s clear that good reviews matter a great deal, on the flip side, bad reviews are also impactful to a business – negatively so. Research shows that 86% of consumers will hesitate to purchase from a business with negative reviews. This can correlate to a significant loss in business for an online seller who experiences bad reviews.
Avoiding bad reviews
It’s a priority for every online seller to minimise negative reviews, but it’s important to do so honestly. Rather than paying companies and social media experts to lessen the effects of bad reviews, it’s best to avoid them in the first place.
But how? After all, it’s true that a business cannot always control the online feedback of its customers, particularly when it is left under the veil of anonymity. That being said, online sellers can control the things that matter to customers and impact the customer experience – such as providing excellent customer support and service. And doing that will lead to more satisfied customers, which leads to more positive reviews and fewer negative ones.
Improve your customer service strategy to increase positive customer reviews online
There are a few ways online sellers can improve customer service to increase customer satisfaction.
- Speed up response times by organising incoming customer queries
When customers are made to wait for responses, they feel that they aren’t valued. A business can increase its response times by categorising, assigning and prioritising messages. This will enable reps to answer customer questions more quickly and efficiently. An eCommerce helpdesk like eDesk helps with this by centralising messages from multiple channels into one inbox. When reps can get to messages in a timely fashion and resolve problems quickly, this minimises the potential for negative reviews.
- Take a customer-first approach
Aligning company messaging with a customer-centric approach can help revitalise your entire customer service team and improve the way that your reps deal with customers. Training reps on consistent language that is underpinned with empathy, understanding and a genuine desire to solve problems will reflect in how customers perceive your business. Authentic voices are important to customers, so working in a way that demonstrates genuine caring and a desire to go above and beyond to solve customer issues goes a long way. For businesses selling internationally, providing multi-lingual support is also important. eDesk provides AI-powered language support that translates messages and provides responses in the customer’s language.
- Ask for feedback with the right tools
This seems like a very obvious step, but it’s surprising how many companies simply don’t ask for feedback directly. The truth is that customers are unlikely to leave feedback unprompted. Therefore, if a business wants to increase its positive feedback, it should solicit feedback from its customers. This can be done via email following a sale. However, doing so manually can be time consuming. Using software to automate the process of requesting feedback can make it easier to get feedback and has been shown to increase the amount of feedback received. Whether an eCommerce seller is selling through their website or on eBay or Amazon, eDesk’s Feedback solution provides a simple way to request reviews. Feedback is compliant with Amazon’s feedback regulations and integrates with Trustpilot so that independent sellers can obtain reviews through a trusted third party. Best of all, with eDesk’s Feedback, even large-volume review requests can be personalised. Feedback automates the whole reviews process and automatically turns every great online sale and customer interaction into a request for a good review.
Following these steps will result in more satisfied customers, who are more likely to write positive reviews online.
Handling bad reviews
A business should do everything it can to prevent negative reviews from ever occurring. Investing in customer service training and streamlining systems and operations to make them more efficient are ways to improve the customer experience such that negative reviews are all but eliminated.
Inevitably, however, even if a business follows all best practices and does everything to pre-empt poor reviews, the law of averages will have it that every business will at some point get a bad review. What can be done in this case?
Ways of responding to bad reviews:
- Take feedback on board
Really listen to the negative feedback contained in the review. What is it telling you about the way the business is operating? Can processes be more efficient to prevent negative outcomes next time? A business should take the negative feedback on board and use it to make improvements.
- Let the customer know you hear them
In addition to taking negative feedback on board, it’s important that the customer knows you’ve heard them and are addressing the situation. This will make even the most irate customer feel like they are being heard and may even convince a customer with a poor experience to do business with your company again.
- Respond to the customer publicly
When a customer leaves a negative online review, don’t just let it sit there! While businesses should not (and in most cases, cannot) remove negative reviews, they can address them so that other potential customers reading the reviews see the business’s response. The response should never be defensive. But responding publicly to a negative review with a calm, measured and apologetic tone goes a long way to mending brand perception. Explaining what happened in a polite tone can show that every story has two sides. Showing empathy to the customer’s bad experience and offering to make things right will help other potential customers see that the business cares about setting things right and is devoted to improving its customer experience. That can go a long way to ameliorating bad customer reviews.
- Train your customer service team on tone
Striking the right tone of voice is important, especially when dealing with upset (or irate) customers. Ensuring that your team knows how to respond to customers in a tone of voice that is calm, measured, and understanding will help defuse stressful situations and can either help walk back a negative review or can hopefully even pre-empt one.
Ways to NOT respond to negative customer reviews:
- Don’t be defensive
As mentioned above, being defensive does a brand no favours. It can make a company look stubborn and arrogant, compounding an already negative reputation.
- Don’t use condescending language to respond
Always show customers empathy and kindness. Do not talk down to customers or respond with a negative tone. Teach your reps how to always respond with empathy and with a neutral tone as well — after all, they are the face of your company!
The importance of customer appreciation
Every online seller should aim for nothing but positive customer interactions. While we can’t always know what customers are thinking, one thing is a given, and that is that customers want to feel appreciated.
Providing excellent customer service is the fundamental way of driving customer appreciation, but so is letting them know how much you appreciate their business. Using tools like eDesk Feedback to follow up after each customer transaction or support interaction with a message letting your customers know how valued they are and asking them to provide feedback means that your customers always feel seen, heard and appreciated.