- The overwhelming majority of consumers report that customer reviews affect their buying decisions
- Companies should have processes in place for collecting customer feedback on a continual basis
- Integrating customer feedback into the sales funnel can significantly impact buying decisions and accelerate sales
The Value of Customer Feedback
Most companies know the value of collecting customer feedback for their own internal purposes (like product development) and have processes in place to do it, but the most value comes from utilizing your customer feedback for dual purposes: improving your products and increasing sales.
Every day, prospective customers use reviews to help them make decisions about whether or not they’ll make a purchase. An overwhelming majority (92%) of people say they read reviews before making a buying decision, and 9/10 people say that reviews are just as important to them as a personal recommendation.
By integrating feedback in the form of customer reviews at specific points in the sales funnel, you can impact customer buying decisions (read: convince them to make a purchase).
Quite literally, the feedback your customers leave on your website and other review sites affects whether or not customers choose to buy from your company. Perhaps even more importantly, the way you leverage customer feedback (or not) has the potential to significantly impact your sales.
In short: not utilizing customer feedback is a huge missed opportunity.
Collecting Feedback Effectively
Getting the Timing Right
The first step to using customer feedback strategically is to make sure you’re collecting it in ways that generate high quality and high quantity responses. Timing is key when it comes to collecting feedback.
Much of the time, it’s effective to reach out as soon as the buyer journey ends to get feedback while the product and the customer experience with your company is still fresh in a customer’s mind (like when GrubHub asks you to review your meal the next day, or a hotel asks for a review right after your trip ends).
In some cases, though, it might be better to wait and give your customer time to use your product before you ask them for a review (like if they purchase software they need to use for some time before seeing results).
Tools for Collecting Reviews
There are tools available that make it easier than ever to prompt your customers to give reviews, and most (68%) are willing to do it when they’re asked.
Email is a nearly guaranteed way to be sure customers will see your review request (99% of people check their email every day), and an effective review request email will remind the customer about the product or service, include a clear call to action, and drive them to a review site or portal.
Here’s a good example from Etsy:
Social media is another powerful tool for connecting with customers and collecting feedback. With a strong social media engagement strategy, companies often don’t need to make direct requests for feedback on the platform — customers will generate reviews themselves.
71% of people using social media will recommend a brand to their family and friends after having a positive experience, so it shouldn’t be underestimated as a referral source, either.
Social media is a place where brands can connect most directly with customers, creating content that engages them, responding directly to comments and reviews, sharing customers photos, and more.
Social media engagement is also one of the best creators of social proof, which is basically the idea that people will conform to the way they see other people acting and engaging. When people see others giving your company and products positive reviews, it encourages them to become customers, too.
Surveys can be an effective tool for collecting feedback when there are specific questions companies want to ask or data points they want to collect.
When using surveys, it’s important to be concise and think about how the survey will yield the most impactful results — make questions clear and relevant, use consistent scales and yes/no answer options for better data analysis, and then (usually at the end) add open-ended questions.
SMS and Phone Call
Customers may be less likely now to answer an actual call, but SMS messaging is an easy and effective way to make requests that your customer will see (text messages are read at an even higher rate than email). Through SMS messaging, companies can ask simple questions to get quick feedback (ex: Were you happy with your service? Reply YES or NO) or send links to surveys or review sites.
In the case of customers who have ongoing relationships with companies like service providers, it’s still a good idea to reach out via a phone call (and customers will be more likely to recognize you if they interact with you more) to have an actual conversation.
Optimizing Impact on Sales
Once you have established channels for collecting and analyzing customer feedback, you can insert it at various customer touch points in the sales funnel to impact buying decisions and ultimately increase sales.
Feature Reviews on Product Pages
There are a lot of different ways reviews can be displayed effectively on product pages. You can choose reviews relevant for certain products or target demographics, pull in a feed of all reviews that lets customers sort and browse through them, highlight reviews with photos — it all depends on your priorities.
Here are some of the best ways companies are utilizing reviews on product pages.
Include Reviews at Strategic Touch Points in the Sales Funnel
We’ve all gotten them — the “Are you sure you want to leave?” pop ups before we abandon our online shopping carts. The follow up emails reminding us that we still have items in our cart to purchase.
Abandoned cart reminders are one of the most effective ways to increase conversions. 88% of online orders are abandoned at some point, and companies who make an effort to recover them have a 63% chance of doing it with reminder emails.
Including customer reviews in abandoned cart emails or in reminder emails after customers indicate initial interest in a service can go a long way in convincing prospective customers to return and make the purchase they already considered.
Write Case Studies
Case studies are especially effective for B2B sales for companies who are selling solutions because customers want to see results.
Case studies provide valuable social proof, catch the attention of customers as they research your offerings, and can convince them to take the next step to reach out to your team or make a purchase.
Case studies should be prominently displayed on company websites but can also be integrated into the sales process in presentations made by sales teams, follow up emails, and conversations with prospective customers.
In short: you’re already working hard to make your current customers happy, and their feedback is more convincing and meaningful to your prospective customers than any advertising message you share.
Implementing the right processes for collecting and leveraging customer feedback takes time and attention, but once in place, they can work alongside your other sales efforts to catch the attention of prospective customers and accelerate sales.