5 sure ways of getting quality feedback in an eCommerce store


hand drawn face of Kris Planeta

When it comes to getting feedback from customers, my clients and I tried perhaps everything there is in the book.

Most of the things we tried didn’t work or worked very poorly. But there were 5 things that worked like a charm every-single-time.

But first, let’s talk about…

What didn’t work (a.k.a obvious key takeaways)

After trying about a dozen of methods of getting feedback my 2 key findings are these:

  1. Asking people questions when they are not ready to answer them wields bad results.

  2. Context is reeeaaallly important

Popups and slide-out pannels with surveys didn’t work on any page I tested them. Very few people responded to them and there was no pattern in their responses.

Polls that show up on exit intent were only making people angry.

SMSes? Nope – people don’t like writing long feedback on their phones.

Heatmaps? You are not getting any context to that data.

You can get a bit more context from session recordings (Hotjar does that) but it lets you find only errors on websites. Major errors. In other cases you are just guessing.

Contests and all sorts of feedback-for-X don’t work – most people just give you the feedback they think you want to hear. Plus, in some cases they may not even remember what their experience with the thing you want to aske them about was.

What worked #1 – Ask them personally

Asking people is so easy and obvious but it is not practiced very often.

You can ask them for feedback during live chat, in email conversation, on social media or by phone (only if they call you).

However, there is one special case when people willingly give better responses than in any other – if the person who answers their call is the company’s CEO.

In fact, I happened to find out this method by accident.

Once I was setting up a new call center. I tested it with my client and after the tests … I forgot to change his phone number in redirection settings.

And so, the next day he started receiving calls from customers – calls, that proved to be worth a ton.

It turned out that when people learned they talked to the company’s CEO they were much more open.

They didn’t shy from saying things wouldn’t normally say.

I suppose that people who get to talk to CEOs feel special and somehow in luck to be able to talk to them.

Hence, they give them much better feedback than to e.g. customer service operators.

What worked #2 – Analyze calls, emails & live chat history

Analyzing past conversations is good if you are in search for ANY feedback.

If you want to find an answer to your specific question then you should spend your time on other activities.

What worked #3 – Send email surveys

You need to know one thing about getting feedback from emails with surveys.

In most cases you need to do a few A/B tests of:

  1. email titles
  2. email content
  3. form questions
  4. sending time

to maximize the number of responses you get.

If you do that correctly then you will have a solution that doesn’t need active work.

If you don’t know where to start, you should read this thorough guide by Nick Kolenda. Even though it is aimed at getting customer reviews, you will get heaps of knowledge from it.

What worked #4 – Do user/usability testing

User testing (also called usability testing) is one of the best ways of getting feedback on how a website works.

But even though everybody knows about it, not many put it in action.

Mostly, because of the misconceptions.

The truth is that:

  1. You can easily test for major usability flaws.
  2. You quickly gain experience doing tests.
  3. You don’t need to test on many people. In fact 5 is the minimum. Here’s a post about it from Nielsen Norman Group.
  4. You don’t need special equipment to do user testing. In fact any screen recording software and camera will do.
  5. You don’t need eye tracking software.
  6. (in most cases) You don’t need people from your target group to test functionality an ease of use of your web store. In fact any available person with similar level of intelligence will do.

Read these very good, short guides to learn more > resource 1 & resource 2

The only thing these 2 short guides don’t mention (that you need to know) is testing on different devices – you need different users for that. You can’t let one person test a mobile website and then desktop version since their feedback will be skewed.

Psst. I list these and many others quality e-commerce resources on this page. Take a look.

What worked #5 – Add a feedback form on the purchase confirmation page

Generally, if people don’t like anything, they want to move to a different site rather than explain, what they didn’t like. That is why feedback form in popups and off-screen-slide-out panels gather hardly any information.

Feedback forms on “purchase confirmation” pages are exceptions.

I’ve found out that short, single-field (more on this later) forms on these pages get submitted much more often than any others and contain quality feedback from:

  1. people who went through all the stages of your funnel
  2. still remember both positive and negative elements of it
  3. are more likely to share their experience as a way of saying “thank you” after having purchased something they wanted

Oh. And it is important that these forms contain only a single field. Adding email field drastically reduces the number of form submitions. You can pass order ID in a hidden field to know who is giving you feedback.

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