I have a mild online shopping problem. I admit it.

There are a lot of brands that I really love and they incentivize me in all the right ways with great promotions, partner offers, good product recommendations and simple check-out processes. I can browse sites for hours, but the one thing that ruins the whole experience for me is getting a bland and clearly templated survey from some third-party company that interrupts my shopping. It is not the act of requesting my feedback itself that bothers me, but the fact that it is usually done in a very impersonal way, with the questions not reflecting any knowledge of my specific experience.

As a frequent shopper and a researcher with a trained eye for strong CX practices, I would love to see all companies with a website survey take the time to treat the survey as an extension of the brand interaction and implement some of the following ideas to make shoppers’ experiences more engaging.

  1. Tailor the survey experience

We may be spoiled by some best-in-class brands, but I and many other shoppers, have come to expect any website experience – especially return visits to the same site – to be smooth, consistent and, wherever possible, tailored to our past browsing habits or purchase behavior. As I see it, these principles – particularly personalization – should always extend to the survey experience.

To customize the experience, the survey questions themselves should be programmed to only be shown when relevant. This can be done by either asking qualifying questions in the survey that direct a customer down a path, or even better, by incorporating data from a web analytics tool to cut down on the number of questions and only ask about experiences that customers actually had on the website.

Demographic and historic behavioral questions can also be skipped if the company is surveying customers after they have logged into their account and can be identified for the purpose of appending the relevant data.

The most fundamental element of tailoring the feedback process is optimizing the survey for all devices. Today’s shoppers are forever on-the-go and increasingly shopping and engaging brands on mobile devices.

These brands need to be prepared to seamlessly capture feedback across all mediums to see a comprehensive picture representing the true shopper base.

 

  1. Reflect the brand strength through solid creative aesthetics

It seems obvious to say, but pop-up invitations and surveys that look nice capture attention and encourage survey participation.

By designing the invitation and survey to match the branding of the rest of the website, it feels like it’s a solution integrated as part of the website experience and is truly sponsored by the company itself, rather than passed off to a third party.

Shoppers like me believe that these clean, branded aesthetics convey the message that the company itself cares what we think and is actively listening, not just letting our responses sit in a big data center.

 

  1. Seek participation from the right people at the right time

A lot of different types of customers may visit the website and at varying frequencies. To prevent overburdening website visitors, brands need to be strategic in how they set up survey triggers. Before determining the trigger rules, they should review their website analytics to understand which pages have the most traffic and how long customers spend on the site.

They can then establish appropriate rules to ensure they get sufficient responses without contacting every customer every day. Cookies should also be used to ensure that customers who have already provided feedback are not solicited again until a reasonable amount of time has passed (i.e., at least a few months).

  1. Structure feedback in the right way

To make customers feel like their feedback will be well-utilized, companies should ask questions in a coherent way starting with the highest-level most strategic questions and drilling down into more tactical areas related to the individual shopper experience on the website. This often parallels the way shoppers think about the experience and makes it easy for them to respond. When shoppers can intuitively understand the survey flow, the brand benefits from them spending more time coming up with thoughtful responses and less time reading instructions or shifting focus from topic to topic.

When shoppers can intuitively understand the survey flow, the brand benefits from them spending more time coming up with thoughtful responses and less time reading instructions or shifting focus from topic to topic.

  1. Communicate the value of shopper feedback

All in all, brands should never risk irritating customers in the pursuit of customer insights. Brands should be sure to emphasize how important their customers’ feedback is and ways in which responses from other customers have been used to make improvements in the past. This can be outlined upfront, within the survey or in the closing acknowledgment, when thanking customers for their time.

By developing a website survey with informed intention and not as an afterthought, some incredibly valuable commentary from customers can be captured and shared with teams internally in real-time to make improvements swiftly, while ensuring a positive brand image outcome. At the same time, brands can effectively make customers feel like they are part of the evolution of the brand experience.

By Julia Chambers, Research Manager.