The owner of a small corner store can easily communicate with customers in an actionable fashion. If shoppers are dissatisfied with product selection, they might audibly mutter about it in the store aisles or tell the owner directly. If two customers express confusion over a promotion, the owner can quickly adjust signs to clarify for future visitors. If a customer is unhappy, it’s usually written all over their face and you can change your tactics to make them happier or more satisfied. And if the physical shopping carts aren’t working right, well, that’s obvious to any clerk behind the counter.
Things are not so simple for online businesses. Virtual shops have long gathered analytics data in efforts to understand what customers want. In analyzing this data, many website owners have questioned its usefulness only because of the vast amount of data presented to them. After all, understanding WHAT users do on your site is only half the journey; learn how to turn the WHAT into actionable information is the important step. While the numbers might reveal trends, they don’t deliver the authentic, immediate and actionable feedback so easily gathered via in-person communication.
In the online world, if you don’t ask customers for their feedback in a manner that makes it simple and worthwhile for them to respond, you won’t understand their actions and you won’t be able to take the kind of bold action that can lead to increased loyalty and sales. Broadcasting information to customers is not enough, especially when inviting them to become engaged participants is so easy to do.
Integrating the Customer’s Voice Into Your Search Data
If the customer’s voice is missing from your decision-making process when looking at search engine marketing and Web analytics, it might be time for a change. Something as simple as a feedback channel on your website can revolutionize the dynamic between your company and your customers. These personal comments can be integrated with your existing customer relationship management and web analytics applications to increase the value of all the information you collect.
Maybe you use a Web analytics program to get the who, what, where and when data regarding customer behavior on your site. But there is a big, empty space where the why information should be. Until you know the reasoning behind customer decision-making on your site, you are not truly informed about your users and how to keep them happy. The first step toward making data collection relevant is integrating your Web and feedback analytics so you can see the whole customer. Doing so has innumerable benefits.
For example, a business interested in expanding to a new market, perhaps internationally, should not ignore the resource of local website visitors. In order to inform online strategy in unfamiliar regions, ask customers for direct feedback via your website. Their comments will not only immediately enable you to identify and repair problems, your responsiveness will lead to increased conversions. Regardless of location, customers want to know you care about them. It’s hard to communicate that if they know you don’t hear what they’re saying. Customer feedback analytics not only enable you to get actionable input from users, it also provides a simple, clear way to illustrate that your company cares about customers’ needs and wants their input.
Expand Your Search Capabilities With Actionable Feedback
Unlike one-sided data analysis, this kind of communication builds trust and loyalty. Think about the last time you filled out a survey. Were you annoyed? Did you feel pressed for time? Were you upset that the questions did not speak to the matters about which you cared the most? Surveys and similar tools – which many websites have employed as stand-ins for the conversations brick-and-mortar businesses have with customers – actually have limited usefulness for e-business. Not only can the resulting data be unwieldy and difficult to translate into action, the process of soliciting that information can be off-putting to customers. Don’t make the mistake of offering a survey to prospects who would prefer steering a conversation rather than checking off boxes or selecting predetermined answers.
Beyond the ease-of-use factor, direct customer input can serve as a final checkpoint for a customer who might be about to abandon your site. It’s hard to fix a relationship with someone when you don’t know that it is broken or why it ended. Feedback analytics give customers a means to conduct an exit interview with you or write you a “Dear John” letter. When you know they are angry and you understand what sparked their ire, you can fix the problem. Take their feedback and follow-up. Where they angry about your pricing? Maybe there is a coupon or promotion you could offer to soothe their pain. Did a malfunctioning form or shopping cart frustrate them? Fix it, contact them and offer to complete the process.
Customer feedback enables you to win back users who would otherwise just slip away, or worse. After all, customers have plenty of options these days for voicing their annoyance with businesses to the public at large. Social media has given consumers a voice, and customers – particularly frustrated ones – are using it. Give your prospects a means to deliver their messages directly to you, rather than waiting for them to take their problems to a public forum like Facebook or Twitter. Furthermore, a two-way customer communications channel on your website eases the strain on your call center and allows online customers to remain where they’re most comfortable – online.
You likely have many questions about your e-business, some of which can’t be solved by your existing statistical data. Why are so many potential customers abandoning your shopping cart? Why are users from the Northeast suddenly browsing but not buying? What’s causing the spike in bounce rates on your landing pages? You could convene an internal group to study these matters and determine possible explanations and remedies. Or you could provide your customers with an easy way to tell you why these things are happening. The cost of the latter is lower, and the benefits are much higher.
Integrating your voice of customer data with your search marketing offer a quick, reliable source of information that is actionable by multiple stakeholders in your company, including those in manufacturing, marketing, sales, shipping and IT. By integrating authentic customer feedback with other business applications such as CRM and Web analytics, e-businesses can move beyond statistics to actionable data that answers critical business questions and moves companies closer to their customers.