In this post we focus on strategies to collect customer feedback that you can start using today in order to grow your business.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that businesses that have more customer feedback, and predominantly positive customer feedback, attract more customers leading to increasing sales.
But customer feedback has a wider effect on the overall customer experience with the net effect being extremely positive for businesses.
According to Northwestern University in the USA:
To that extent, getting more reviews is a key factor in increasing sales and you can replicate this success for your business.
In this article, we’ll be covering the following proven customer feedback collection strategies:
- Claim your Google My Business Listing & Optimise
- Ask Customers for Reviews When They Buy
- Follow-up on your Request for Feedback
- Respond to All Customer Feedback
- Share Positive Customer Feedback
- Review Live Chat Data
- Internal Search Tracking
- Mailing List Feedback
- Source Customer Feedback from Different Platforms
Let’s dive right in.
Strategy 1: Claim your Google My Business Listing & Optimise
The converse is also true; if users cannot find your business on Google, then the chances of them leaving feedback will be small.
The key focus area should be to optimise your Google My Business Page.
But what is Google My Business and why is it important?
Your Google My Business listing is a great way to generate more leads, and get more customers. It allows customers to connect more directly with businesses at the time when customers are looking for a particular product or service.
You can do this by personalising your listing, and by adding photos, offers, events, and by engaging with customers via Google reviews.
For example, if a customer were looking for a new pair of glasses and you owned a local shop selling spectacles, having a properly optimised Google My Business page would allow for the customer to find and engage with you as in the example below.
Step 1: the consumer searches Google for glasses.
Step 2: amongst other local businesses that satisfy the search, your business will also appear with additional information such as directions, contact details, photos and reviews, as well as hours of business.
Step 3: through this listing, the potential customer can get in touch with you direct to see if you have what they want and engage in initial dialogue.
Step 4: finally, after the purchase, the customer can return to your Google My Business listing in order give you a review and rating.
Step 5: you, as the business owner, can reply to this review to further encourage engagement and demonstrate customer service to new prospects.
As you can see, the benefits of claiming and optimising the information on your Google My Business page are many.
Google My Business is particularly powerful for businesses that have a physical location and do business face to face.
So how can you set up your Google My Business page?
Go to the Google My Business site and click on ‘manage now’.
Enter your business name at the prompt and click ‘next’. We have created a fictitious company called Rare Watches Zone for this illustration.
Identify the category that describes your business the best from the drop-down.
If you cannot find an appropriate category here, Google search for your businesses’ keywords to see what category other similar businesses use, add them, then click ‘next’.
Now add the physical location of the business that customers can come and visit and click ‘next’.
If you have a service where you go out to customers, then select the ‘no’ button. We will select the ‘no’ option for our purpose as our fictitious business sells online only.
On this next page you can search and select the geographical areas where you serve your customers and click ‘next’. You could for example, enter the name of your town or city, and then add a few other key locations in a short radius from where you are based.
Despite the number of locations you enter here, you will likely rank most highly in areas closest to where your business is based.
The next thing to do is enter your contact details including phone number and website.
And then click ‘next’ and now your Google My Business page has been created.
Despite having got this far, there are a number of things you should do in order to optimise this listing to ensure you stand out and represent your business in the best way possible.
The first thing to do following on from clicking ‘finish’ in the previous screen is to fill out your physical mailing address details.
This will be hidden from the public and is where Google will send you a postcard to verify the page. We will not do this in our illustration and will click ‘verify later’.
Now you are directed to your Google My Business dashboard that gives you a variety of options to fill out.
You can add to the listing by adding details such as your hours of business, a description of what the business does, and a business logo.
At this stage you can also add photos of your business, perhaps of your storefront or of products you offer.
A really good thing to do at the outset is to tell customers of any events, promotions or new products you have by creating a post and announcing this. You can access this by clicking on ‘posts’ on the left hand menu.
There is an option to talk about your products or services in more detail.
The primary category you added earlier will be shown but it is a good idea to add additional product or service details you offer.
The focus here should be on the keywords users are likely to use to buy what you sell.
When talking about your product or service description, also keep in mind to use the keywords important and consistent with your product or service set that will facilitate your rankings in search.
If you are happy to take free consultations then adding ‘appointment links’ is a good thing to do and then add the URL of a page where people can reach out to you or get in touch, such as a ‘contact us’ page.
At the end click the ‘verify now’ button from the ‘home’ section of the dashboard in order to verify the listing with Google.
Congratulations, now that you have your Google My Business page set, not only have you made yourself more visible for customers’ intent-based searches for products and services in your area, but you have also unlocked an ability to receive and respond to reviews.
The importance of ratings and reviews, as we all know, is to provide social proof and to help develop the reputation of a company in a niche.
As far as Google is concerned, ratings and reviews are an important ranking factor in their search algorithm and contribute heavily to search engine optimisation and page ranking.
Consequently, it is not only important to get more reviews, but also to get more high-star reviews if you want to have a chance at dominating in search.
Check out the results in the search below that demonstrates this fact.
Of the three shops identified, it is clear that Bauman Rare Books stands out. This is not only because they have more reviews than the other two bookshops, but also because the average star rating is higher.
So in addition to securing more reviews, clearly a focus needs to be given (as would be expected) on the quality of those reviews and how you are improving the business.
Strategy 2: Ask Customers for Reviews When They Buy
Although the actual rating will depend on the quality of products and services you offer, there are strategies you can deploy to get more reviews over time.
Following on from the previous strategy that allows your customers to give you reviews from your Google My Business page, you can claim a review link handle, which will then make the task of asking for reviews easier.
Ensure you verify your Google My Business page before doing this.
Head over to Whitespark, a marketing services company.
Enter the business name, city, and zip/postcode in the ‘enter a business’ field.
Your review link will appear in the box below. Copy and save this URL as this is what you need to share with others to allow them to write a review on Google.
For example, for our bookshop from earlier, this is:
Whenever anyone opens this link now, they will immediately be presented with a window that takes them to the review section of that company where they can enter a review straightaway.
This makes the process for customers extremely easy, which will mean more people are likely to give you a review as you’ve simplified the process for them.
There are many ways in which you can now use this link with customers in order to get more reviews.
The most obvious is to include the link in emails you send to your list of customers, perhaps via an email list. You could also include the link in your email signature so that people can easily access this. And if you have a team, then having the link in everyone’s email signature will multiply the effect.
You could also use the link in text messages from your phone and send out to customers to ask for a review.
If asking by email you could use something similar to the text as below.
We want to thank you for your business and would be keen to know about your experience. Just take a few seconds to click the link below to leave an honest Google review.
Real client success stories help us reach more people that we can help.
It would mean a lot to us and we thank you in advance for taking the time.
Typically, the shorter the request, the higher the conversion.
Beyond Google reviews however, there may be other platforms on which you want customers to leave reviews.
That’s not a problem.
The key is to remember to make the process very easy for customers. Ideally, as demonstrated with the Google link method above, it should be a one-click to get to the page where a feedback can be given.
However, in order to increase your chances of getting responses, it is important you follow some key rules.
For example, you should email very soon after the customer has received the product or service otherwise it is very much a question of out of mind, out of sight and your response conversions will be low.
As mentioned, the request should be brief and should explain who you are so as to jog their memory and not take up too much of their time.
Give them all they need in the email to write the review and give you a rating. The page should load quickly and it should be clear how they need to provide the review.
Marketing firm Coschedule has given some good examples of how to ask for a review that you may consider using.
Equally, there are some things you should not do.
We strongly advise against offering any kind of incentive in exchange for a review. Customer feedback should be sought on a purely non-incentivised basis so the online review is a fair reflection of customers experiences.
Digital marketing agency, Odd Dog gives some additional suggestions on what not to do.
In addition, there is nothing to be gained by badgering customers. Remember, one of the aims with online reviews is to improve the customer experience, not erode it.
The next section talks further to this point.
Strategy 3: Follow-up on your Request for Feedback
A statistic cited earlier was that 76% of consumers asked to write reviews go on to write one.
This is an average and clearly this will vary for different businesses.
But just because you don’t get a response from a consumer, this does not mean that all is lost.
If you are serious about growing your business and recognise that getting more reviews is a fundamental part of this, then you will need to follow up with customers in order to prompt them again to leave a review.
However, you need to be respectful and careful with how you do this.
The follow-up email should be brief and provide the link to allow the customer to quickly leave a rating and a review.
The following text is a good example that we’ve seen converts well – it really doesn’t need to be much more than this.
We do not advise sending more than one follow up email.
The reason for this apart from the obvious annoyance is that by the time you look to send a second or third follow up email, enough time will have passed to mean the customer may have passed that natural window to care about responding.
Indeed, they may have even forgotten what it was they purchased from you.
As such, given the one follow up email is your last chance to secure an online review, you may seek to secure just a rating as opposed to a text review as well, as a rating requires less mental capacity and can be done in seconds.
A rating by itself is not as effective as a review and a rating but is clearly much better than no rating or review whatsoever.
Strategy 4: Respond to All Customer Feedback
Responding to customer feedback and reviews is a great way to demonstrate to customers that their opinion is genuinely valuable to you and your business.
Not only that, but new customers seeing how you interact with your previous customers lets them know how they can expect to be treated.
In addition, Google confirms that responding to reviews improves your local search engine optimisation.
Consider the review below where, despite positive reviews, the business owner doesn’t respond to acknowledge or thank.
And then consider the review below where despite negative reviews, the business owner does not respond to try to rectify the situation.
Now compare and contrast this with the following business where the owner responds to negative reviews for the benefit of the upset customer, but also for the benefit of anyone else that may see the review at a later date.
And the business owner below takes the time out to thank a customer for their custom, showing existing, and new customers, that they care.
Our advice is to respond to all reviews if possible, or as many as you can. Most businesses respond only to negative reviews that may cause a bias to the number of positive vs. negative reviews you start collecting over time.
Clearly how you respond will depend on the review you are responding to. However, we use the checklist below to guide businesses on things to remember when responding to reviews.
Be courteous and thank the customer for their review
Remove emotion from your response
Take the conversation offline if requires more discussion (especially if negative)
Work hard to resolve
Encourage a review update if resolved
Learn and improve from the experience
HubSpot developed a guide that gives more detail around how to respond to reviews.
This strategy is an easy-win as your business has already done the hard work of having collected the review in the first instance.
Responding just requires a bit of time, and organising in order to reap additional rewards.
Strategy 5: Share Positive Customer Feedback
The best marketers and salespeople for your company are not actually your employees – instead, they are your customers.
If you have some momentum and have received positive reviews for your business it makes sense to share this in different ways so you can let other potential customers know.
After all, social proof is a very powerful marketing tactic and can get others who may be sitting on the fence, to get off the fence and buy from you.
This strategy works best when you are able to let people know of the review you received, you include the review (and rating if possible), and you include appropriate hashtags that let others find you on the platform.
The below is a good example of what this could look like.
The correct hashtags are important to ensure you get maximum exposure for your business that can actually result in interest and ultimately, sales.
When using hashtags most people just hope and pray and shower their posts with a flurry of random and ineffective hashtags that result in no additional actual traffic to their site and products.
As a basic rule, you should ensure that you include the brand name of your business. This allows new visitors to start to gain familiarity with your business. Keep the brand hashtag as short as possible. If your company name is longer, think about an appropriate abbreviation, like the company below has done.
Another tip is to ensure, where appropriate, to include the location of your business. If you run a predominantly online business, clearly this will be less relevant, however, if you have a physical presence then this is critical.
Local tagging like this can increase views and interest from local prospects that are also more likely to visit and consider buying from you.
Given customers can search the location easily, if they are seeking local products or services, you will appear highly. If your content is current (or you frequently post with a location hashtag), then you are likely to be found at the top of the search.
The third type of hashtag that you should include is a keyword hashtag.
All businesses should identify at least three main keywords that resonate with their business.
These three hashtags should routinely be used on your social media handles. This approach can also make you visible to those who are looking for that product or service, assuming that is in your keyword.
Finally, campaign hashtags also work well to bring prominence to your business initiatives. Aligning these with feedback work particularly strongly.
For more information on effective social media use of hashtags, you can check out this great post.
Strategy 6: Review Live Chat Data
Customers typically make use of the live chat tools of a company when they have an issue they want to resolve.
This is particularly true of ecommerce companies that seek to provide customer service through this medium.
Over time, data can be gathered that can highlight recurring problems your customers may be facing.
These conversations are typically a back and forth that can drill down into the specific nature of the issue the customer is having.
Not only can you assess overall customer service, but you can also get to develop a better understanding of live issues through real-time feedback, or issues that are likely to develop in the near future.
There are many different customer service software providers who provide live chat software and you can identify which may be best for you here.
Once installed, in addition to directly experiencing the nature of the conversation yourself or with your team who may be responsible for overseeing the chat experience, with most applications you can also download the chat transcript to get further insights.
In addition to this, you can also run pre-chat and post-chat surveys with most providers.
LiveChat for example, cites the following benefits of using its software.
Placing lice chat on different places of your website is good practice. This could include your pricing page to help customers understand more about the product or service they are looking to buy.
Another effective place to place the live chat is on the checkout page so you can address any last-minute objections in order to reduce cart abandonment.
It is important to think about the funnel in your business and identify where it makes sense to include live chat.
Using live chat software in this way adds additional depth to your customer feedback process so that you can foresee any recurring issues, address customer objections, and reduce cart abandonment, leading to increased sales.
Strategy 7: Internal Search Tracking
If this is something you do not yet have, it would be a good idea to see how you can implement it.
Though WordPress provides a search functionality, there are other plugins you can research and download that will provide greater functionality based on your needs.
However, in addition to the search bar providing a service to actual or likely customers, it can provide strong insight and feedback on the business too.
If you consider how people use the search functionality on a site, it is typically used to answer a question the customer has, or address something about the business that is not readily available from the site itself.
This is very powerful feedback for a business to understand how it can optimise its performance and online presence in particular.
This functionality can be set up from your Google Analytics account. Google Analytics is the data functionality that you should set up behind your site if you haven’t already done so, which can let you know how your business is performing.
There are many tutorials online that you can use to properly set up your Google Analytics account.
Once your Google Analytics has been set up, you need to complete the following steps in order to set up internal search tracking.
Click on ‘admin’ from the Google Analytics home screen.
Next, click on ‘view settings’ from the ‘all website data’ section.
Finally, turn ‘site search tracking’ on.
Now whenever anyone runs a search on your website, Google will track this.
So for example, if someone searches for a product that you don’t offer, and if this is routinely being searched for by a high volume of users, then this tells you that maybe this is something you should start stocking as people are visiting your site looking to buy it.
Similarly, many other details about your business such as key objections, product queries, delivery queries, pricing queries etc. can be unearthed through tracking the internal search function on your site.
Strategy 8: Mailing List Feedback
For any business that operates online, having an email list is critical to your success.
The reason for this is because it allows you to interact with people who are interested in what you have to offer, meaning you don’t have to go out and start afresh each time when you are looking to sell or start a campaign.
Given you have direct emails of consenting individuals who are interested in what you have to offer, or have previously bought from you, it makes sense to communicate with them to get direct feedback.
Clearly you need to be careful and respectful of people’s inbox and so you should be careful not to over-communicate.
However, for customer feedback purposes, you can set up automated emails at the outset when someone joins your email list so that you can understand what it is that interests them about your business, and the kinds of products or services they are interested in.
This is something we use at Syntellio.
You can do a similar exercise when anyone unsubscribes from your list and many email service providers allow for this which can let why people are leaving.
Beyond these two instances you can also reach out to segments of your email list with a more targeted customer survey to get feedback.
These are likely to be people who have bought from you, or are thinking of buying from you and so are interested in what you have to offer.
A survey such as this can ask the following checklist of questions.
Have you purchased products or services from us in the past?
If so, what?
If not, why?
What has your experience been around product or service range – have you been able to get what you wanted?
How would you rate the quality of our products?
How has the buying experience been?
What was delivery like?
What was your overall experience?
Would you suggest us to friends and family?
What could we do better?
We would not advise asking many more questions than this, as people would be reluctant to complete given the additional time it may take.
Also you should consider the best time to send this out to maximise conversions. Usually early afternoon during weekdays is what we have found to work best.
Strategy 9: Source Customer Feedback from Different Platforms
Finally, consider using a range of customer feedback platforms.
Different people use different platforms and this strategy can increase your overall exposure, resulting in more reviews.
We previously talked about Google and how they have the most powerful review network in the world.
Some review platforms are open (such as those mentioned above), and others are more closed form.
Syntellio is an example of a closed review platform.
Clearly you cannot be across all review channels and it may be futile to try to do so.
However, it would make sense to develop a strategy that includes a combination of open form and closed form customer feedback platforms.
The advantage of this is that you have more avenues from which to secure reviews.
Open form review platforms may provide more reviews but there is likely to be a greater propensity for fake reviews.
Closed form platforms usually focus on authenticity at their heart.
At Syntellio, a personalised email is sent to a verified customer on behalf of our ecommerce clients, asking for feedback after a transaction has occurred and they’ve had time to use the product or service.
Our processes ensure we get higher conversions of responses from customers than other means.
Combining a platform such as Syntellio, with say, Google for reviews will help you increase the number of reviews and the quality of reviews over time that will enable you to win in sales for your business.
If you are selling anything online, you need to ensure you have a strategy in place for collecting customer feedback as it can massively impact sales.
The statistics consistently show that customer feedback is a key factor for influencing whether or not a person buys.
Moreover, customer feedback is the best form of marketing you can ever expect to do, as it is existing customers doing the selling for you.
As this post shows, there are many different ways to collect reviews and no doubt you should look to employ a few strategies to get the most impact.
Once you get started collecting feedback in an organised manner with a proper strategy, you will begin to make better decisions for your business and will see the growth you’ve been hoping for.
Which of these techniques are you going to use?