Using customer feedback to improve your business
When your business is up and running, and doing well, there’s a temptation to continue just doing what you’re doing. And if you’ve set up your online retail business as a side hustle to make a bit more cash for the time being, if you’re making sales then you might not be too concerned as long as those sales keep flowing in. But eCommerce retailers that are aiming to build something bigger will be looking for all the ways to streamline their business to cut costs – such as adding automation wherever possible – and to make improvements that will add up to a better experience for their customers.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your business, you need to turn to your customers. Their feedback is invaluable, since it may flag issues that you had not previously thought of, and a single comment from a customer might just change everything about your business for the better. In this post, we’ll dig into how customer feedback can improve your online retail business, how to find feedback, as well as how to go about asking customers for more feedback.
How can feedback improve your business?
Although you’re the expert in your own business, you’ll experience an unavoidable bias that means you’ll see everything as rosy – because you’re doing your best, and because you’ll have done all the research. Unfortunately, that also means there are blind spots that you won’t be able to see from your position – and if you can’t see the issues, you can’t make improvements. Feedback can open up your eyes to what you’re doing well, and what you could be doing better, so that you can keep doing what you’re doing well, and make improvements where you need to.
Customer feedback helps you to create better content
Whatever type of business you have, the content you create for your business is essential. From how your website reads, to your product listings, and your social media posts – every single piece of content is going to help you to build trust, help your business to appear closer to the top of search engine results, and ultimately, to sell more. If your content doesn’t answer what your customers need, then they’re likely to look elsewhere, so look for feedback to help you create that content.
Getting your product listings right is the first step. It can be tempting, for speed, to use the same information as provided by the supplier, but bear in mind that suppliers are just as likely to make typos and errors – so you need to check them. Embellishing the listing with more description and information is likely to help each listing to perform better in search results, but don’t go over the top either, because flowery descriptions can be equally as distracting. Compare your listings with household name businesses that are in your niche, and make sure yours are similar.
It is worth noting that although you might update your product listings with all the information you might think your customers want and need, it won’t eliminate the need for you to answer those questions. There will always be customers that don’t bother to read the page properly, or haven’t understood what the information really means, so they will contact you anyway. Although it might be frustrating to keep having to answer those questions, think of that as an opportunity to provide great service for those customers, and to identify where you might be able to make improvements such as creating a short video for the listing.
If questions keep coming even after you have updated the information, then you can save time by creating standardised responses that you can copy and paste (some enquiry management tools have functionality that allow you to create these and click to add them). Just be certain when you’re dealing with each enquiry, that the standard response you use actually answers the customer’s enquiry completely and correctly, editing where necessary, otherwise they’ll keep replying, and may lose faith in your business.
Finally, content marketing can really increase the value that you offer your customers – and whether you’re creating blog posts, video clips, or podcast material, there’s a lot to be said for doing so. However, it needs to be done thoughtfully and intentionally. Just because you have created it, doesn’t mean your customers will automatically consume it! If it isn’t valuable for your customers, they will simply ignore it. Getting feedback from your customers will help you to identify the sort of content marketing that would be useful for them, so you can create it – either by yourself, by a member of your team, or a freelancer.
Customer feedback helps you to improve your product offering
You can do all your usual product research, tracking down the information you need to get what appears to be an outstanding inventory, and you might still not get as many sales as you thought you might. Even with the most in-demand inventory possible, customers still might be looking for other products to complete their purchases – and you won’t necessarily know that without feedback.
There might already be an indicator of what your customers are looking for in your inbox, if they’ve contacted you about a certain type of product, but that tends to happen less than it used to. However, you can find out the sort of other items that customers are looking for by checking the ‘customers also searched for’ information on marketplaces, in addition to the recommended products on your DropShipping marketplace and from your suppliers.
If your website records free text searches, or you have heat map software that allows you to see the customer journey around your website, that is valuable passive feedback that can help you establish new product opportunities for your business.
Customer feedback helps you to increase repeat custom
Where you can prove to your regular customers that you are listening to their feedback, and that you’re making changes that they suggested, there’s a good chance that they’ll return to shop with you again. That’s especially the case if you’ve been able to source and list the products that they are looking for, at the right price, or if they have encountered an issue when they shopped with you, and you needed to review procedures, or correct something.
Where can you find customer feedback?
Most people will be aware of the ways in which you can actively collect customer feedback, but many established businesses will have customer feedback available to them already, before needing to start surveys and so on. Using the feedback that your customers have already shared with you is less expensive, and while it will take effort to collate the information, is less time consuming than actively collecting feedback.
In your inbox
However you manage your emails, DMs, and even phone enquiries – whether it is in a shared email management tool, or separately, you’ll find feedback that you can utilise for your business, directly from customers. They may or may not have bought the product they contacted you about, but if they’re contacting you to ask you a question about it, then the feedback is that you need to improve the product listing. Rather than making it a periodic exercise to update your listings, as soon as you’ve replied to a customer, make it a habit to update listings with the answers to the question they asked.
If you find you’re getting a lot of enquiries about your processes, such as your shipping arrangements, then updating your FAQ page and standard information on your listings will help your customers find the information for themselves.
On your socials
Social media – love it or hate it, you can’t get away from it, and your customers are likely to be all over it, especially if they have complaints to make, or they absolutely adore a product that you have. Customers creating their own content about your business, and talking about products in your inventory that they love is hugely beneficial – so when you spot those types of posts, or get tagged in them, share them on your account, and leave them thanks on their post.
When it is negative feedback, it is just as important to address the issue too. Customers search for information about businesses that they haven’t used before, to find out whether their purchase is going to be safe. If they see that any negative feedback is being ignored, then they’re much less likely to buy from that company. Replying in a professional manner to those negative posts means that other potential customers will see that you care, and are trying to deal with the issues that have arisen, in a prompt and timely manner.
It isn’t just in your DMs that you can find feedback about your business either – check hashtags related to your products, your business, and other businesses too. Comments might not be directly aimed at your business, but you can find really useful customer feedback that can benefit your business as well as the one that they have issues with.
Review websites are incredibly useful, both for customers to know whether a business is right for them to work with, and for the business to get opinions from their customers. Just like with other forms of feedback, reviews on websites like Trustpilot, Reevoo, and Feefo are places that customers leave their feedback.
There’s always the risk of customers leaving negative feedback when you claim your business on a review website, but as with social media feedback, if you handle them well (replying promptly, and doing what you can to prove that you have done your best to support the customer) then those negative reviews can end up making you look good. Customers want to know how you handle complaints with care, especially if you have a complaint that you might not be quite at fault with. If you can be professional when things aren’t quite fair, then you’re likely to provide great service if something inadvertently goes wrong.
How can you collect more customer feedback?
If you’re not getting enough passive feedback to know how to make changes to your business, then actively collecting customer feedback is the next step. Most of these methods are logical, so we’re not digging right into them – but if you’re going to give them a go, be sure to do so in a professional way, without hassling your customers, or you risk pushing them away.
Post-purchase surveys and requests for feedback
Customers know that their feedback can be useful to businesses, but they might not be likely to go out of their way to provide it unless they are invited to. Adding a note to packing slips, or a post-purchase email inviting customers to leave feedback may be ignored in a large percentage of cases, but those aren’t likely to be the customers you want to hear from anyway. You want to hear from customers where problems occurred with their order, or where customers weren’t completely satisfied.
If you’re asking for feedback, especially if you’re asking customers to fill out a survey, make it super easy, otherwise they won’t bother. The Amazon emails that ask for a simple thumbs up, or things down are a great example of how to make it very simple (after customers have tapped through, they can tap to leave further feedback) but you can invite feedback in the most convenient way for them, by adding your contact information to emails, packing slips and flyers.
Call your customers
You’ll collect your customer’s contact information as part of their order process, and this needs to be handled carefully, but calling your customers can be a great way to get the feedback you want and need. If you’re calling your customers, don’t start the call saying you’re doing a survey – how many telemarketers have you hung up on? Rather, asking them about their experience, if they found everything they were looking for, and how the delivery was is likely to be much more fruitful. Be sure to keep close records on the customers that you have contacted, and when you contacted them – you don’t want to keep calling and end up with the customer being annoyed, since that will result in them shopping elsewhere in future.
You can be, and might be getting absolutely everything correct in your business, but if you’re not tracking customer feedback, then how do you know? Collecting feedback from your customers – both actively, and passively – means that you can really get to the heart of what you’re going well, and where you can make improvements to your business. That applies to choosing new products to source from DropShipping suppliers, the content you produce, and how you handle customer service issues.
When you’ve collected the information you need, you can put your findings into practice. Identifying the products your customers want means you can source new lines quickly and easily, refine your content marketing strategy, and choose the right customer service system for your needs. Found more products that you need to source? Sign up for your trial account, and start sourcing them today.