My friend Parker recently told me about an experience that highlights a critical fact: Customer experience—online or offline—is critical to your business.
It was Cinco de Mayo, and Parker’s family celebrates it hard.
He was in charge of the enchiladas and the homemade salsa this year. He makes a mean salsa and his wife makes an amazing honey lime enchilada.
Since his wife was pregnant, he wanted to help her out. Not only did he want to make sure the salsa and enchiladas were delicious, but he also wanted to impress his wife and show her that he could do it all…without her.
A fool’s errand.
A few days before Cinco de Mayo Parker departed on his journey to the grocery store. From the moment he drove into the parking lot and entered the store, his experience as a customer began.
The bathroom cleanliness, selection, value, convenience, interactions with employees all guided Parker to a positive or negative customer experience—and that experience would be the culminating factor deciding if he would come back or tell others about his experience (for better or worse).
This particular trip to the grocery store started normally, but soon took a turn south.
The shopping cart had the most annoying wheel. You know the kind. Wobbly, screetchy, and every step was met with glares from others seeing what demon possessed his cart. Sure, he could have gotten a new one…but he was already committed.
Then he entered the produce aisle to get cilantro for the salsa. Nada. No Cilantro. Yep you guessed it. He was ticked. I mean, his salsa without cilantro is like parenting via Skype—doesn’t quite have the same impact.
Everything else went pretty smooth…until he got to the self-checkout. He’s a tech guy, so it should have been pretty easy, but he could not get that self-checkout to work. The lady who stands at the pulpit thing by the self-checkout had to come over and put her code in three times. Was she nice about it? No. In fact she made him feel like a complete moron.
Let’s just say his grocery run was not the greatest and he left pretty dissatisfied. Unfortunately, no one knew because no one asked.
All he wanted was to get his groceries so he could make some dinner for his family and to ease his wife’s burden—and he felt like he was failing because he couldn’t get all the groceries and it took him twice as long.
Best case, he leaves frustrated and complains to others, but nowadays more likely he leaves a 1-star review for even more people to see as well.
One thing I’ve learned after leaving over 200 online reviews is this: Reviews don’t really seem to make their way to management so they can make the changes needed to improve that store’s customer experience—but those reviews are incredibly visible to anyone looking to go to that grocery store.
Online reviews can be detrimental or they can be a revenue booster.
What’s crazy about all of this is that when Parker got home and shared his experience with his family at dinner, his mom pulled out her phone and showed him this new way of shopping. You can order all your food online and show up and just pick it up. It sounded like she had a pretty solid experience.
And then Parker had an epiphany: No matter if you’re selling in person or online you’re creating an experience for your customers.
Customer experience is a singular journey from the store site to the web site.
Just like in-person, from the time you enter the website to the time you leave the website you will have an experience and that experience could be amazing, okay, or terrible.
But, when you create a customer experience you also create a problem: The problem is gathering customer feedback to improve the experience your customers have when they shop at your store. In today’s world, our society has been trained on giving feedback by going to Google, Yelp, Facebook or any other public platform and leaving their review online rather than going to the business to provide feedback.
Customer experience and online reviews are inseparably tied and they have a huge impact on your business.
Let’s look at some facts:
- Unhappy customers are 3x more likely to share their experience (https://www.inc.com/graham-winfrey/the-cost-of-unhappy-customers.html)
- According to Harvard Business School a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue and four out of five consumers have changed their minds about a recommended purchase after reading negative online reviews. (Cone Communications)
- Even though customer experience is critical for online reviews, which is one of the main drivers of revenue, only 11% of companies have strong CX metrics programs. (https://lumoa.me/customer-experience-stats)
So how do we interrupt this pattern and help you get more feedback from customers so you can increase your revenue and become a 5-star rated business that everyone in the neighborhood is raving about?
Well it’s simple and you might not believe me, but I’ll let our data tell the story: At Ovation we have helped hundreds of companies 10x their 5-star reviews and increase their revenue by 10% using this simple process.
So what’s the secret sauce? It’s simple: Ask and respond.
All you have to do is ask about their experience and respond to their feedback.
So how do you ask for feedback?
First, let me share with you what everyone is doing and why it’s not working: We have found that asking for feedback on the receipt doesn’t work. Receipt surveys get a .1%-.3% completion rate. Let’s put that in perspective: 1,000 customers shop at your store this week and 1 customer fills out the survey.
Not only are these surveys placed on something that is thrown away as soon as it’s handed to the customer but they have a 20-question survey and a brutal process to turn in your survey to get the reward for filling it out. No wonder the completion rate is so low.
What are some simple yet effective ways you can ask for your customers feedback?
- AWARENESS & INCENTIVE. Place a table tent on the checkout table with a QR code the customer scans with their phone that then takes them to a simple one-question survey. The key is to incentivize the customer to respond by asking one question and rewarding them for their response.
- TIMELINESS & SIMPLICITY. If you gather customer information at checkout, send them an email or text message with a similar question right after they leave. Customers are much more likely to give feedback if you ask shortly after their experience. Also keep in mind to remove resistance. I was sent an email that asked for my feedback. I clicked the link to give feedback and it took me to a page where I had to click another button to get me to the page that actually had the survey question. The link never loaded so I never filled out the survey. Make it simple.
- TRAINING. Train your staff to ask for feedback. Here’s a script that works really well.
Cashier: Hi, how are you doing today?
Customer: Good, tired of the rain. Ready for summer.
Cashier: Me too. Well something that can make your day better is letting us know how we did for your chance to win $100.
Customer: Sure. How do I do it?
Cashier: Pull out your phone and scan this QR code. Shouldn’t take you more than a few seconds.
Make sure to ask for their name and phone number/email to follow up with them.
Now that you’ve gathered feedback what do you do?
What’s cool is you just gathered feedback that helps segment your customers into different categories. You now have a bucket of happy customers and a bucket of unhappy customers and a bucket of semi satisfied/somewhat unhappy customers.
The way you respond to this feedback is where the magic happens. Each of these segments need to be responded to differently.
- The unhappy customer needs to be responded to immediately either by a general manager or some person with authority that can help resolve the customer’s concerns and problems right away. You’re doing this to make things right and avoid the customer going to Google or Yelp and slandering your business. And when you resolve their concerns, they are the most likely group to become loyal.
- How do you respond to the Happy customers? There are three things you can do here. I suggest you at least do one of them:
- Ask for an online review on the platform they’re most comfortable with. Provide a link to an online review platform. Make it easy for your customers to leave a review online.
- Ask for a testimonial that you can share on your website or on your social pages.
- Ask your customers to share their experience with their friends and family or on social media.
- How do you respond to the semi happy customer/semi unhappy customer? We have found that this audience is actually the audience that gives the best constructive feedback and is typically not driven by emotion like the unhappy customer. Asking this customers a few more questions to get a better understanding of their experience can help you improve the customer experience.
So let’s recap:
In today’s world, the way customers are giving feedback is broken. We need to interrupt that by asking them first how their experience was before they go online and leave a review, and we need to make it simple and easy for the customer to give us that feedback. Once we’ve gathered that feedback, we need to respond differently based on their response.
I hope this article is helpful and has provided some value to you.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about gathering feedback so you can increase revenue and become a 5-star customer experience business, check out our website at Ovationup.com for more content and best practices. Also if you have any questions feel free to email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and editors of WholeFoods Magazine.