Feedback: it was once the driving spirit behind e-commerce.
After he established "the perfect marketplace," eBay founder Pierre Omidyar proceeded to polish that perfection by instituting a method whereby buyers and sellers—strangers to one another—could comment publicly on how their transactions went.
Feedback has suffered a mercurial reputation: It was sometimes useful, but often it was abusive and damaging, leaving many to wonder if it's really worth anything
It broke the ice for those nervous about shopping and selling online, and it was good. Since then feedback has suffered a mercurial reputation: It was sometimes useful, but often it was abusive and damaging, leaving many to wonder if it's really worth anything.
Feedback is en vogue once again and cherished by the businesses that know how to ask for it and what to do with it. Here's how to get your customers to speak up and how you can show them their opinions matter to you.
Buyers want you to succeed
There are so many choices in shopping these days. From a commerce-eye's view, the world has become tiny, a marketplace so full of sellers waving for buyers' attention that it seems there's not enough room for all of them.
Shoppers are often unsure where to shop, which barker to listen to and where to spend their hard-earned money. But when they find a seller they like (and that will hopefully be you), they want you to be around next time they're looking for something. And that's the perfect relationship where buyers and sellers can collaborate to mutual benefit.
"I absolutely loved doing business with you. Is there somewhere I can post my appreciation and recommendation for others to see?"
OK, maybe shoppers don't say exactly that, but satisfied customers are once again in the mood to share the good news of your good business. Shoppers are comforted, even relieved, when they find a seller who has the goods that satisfy and the service that instills faith there's still good business being done out there.
That's why they want you to succeed. They don't want to be on the perpetual hunt for a seller they can trust; they want to find one they can trust then hang onto them for as long as possible.
And when you're doing good business, your customers often want to do what they can to keep you in business. Of course, if a seller's goods are disappointing and his or her service is shoddy, then lookout. Customers would be happy to see this slacking seller go away to make room for a business that really cares.
Give then receive then give again
Here's where the feedback comes in. First, you have to be committed to offering products people want at a quality level they expect and go beyond those expectations whenever possible. If you've got that done, satisfaction is practically a given.
Customers are once again in the mood to share the good news of your good business
When your customers are satisfied, sometimes delighted, they're usually eager to reward you with praises and often they're eager to share those praises with the world.
When customers feel good after making a purchase, they like to share that good feeling with others. It gives them a moment in the spotlight in front of the whole world. (Think of those man-on-the-street reporters stopping folks to ask for their feedback; remember how giddy the average Joes and Janes became to give their testimony? It still happens.)
So they're ready to thank you for a stellar experience, make sure they have a place to share. Most online marketplaces have feedback forums and reviewer repositories. When you complete your transaction with those folks, it's OK to ask them if they'd share their positive feedback for others' benefit—and yours, too, since it can help keep you in business.
That covers the first "give" (your products and service) and the "receive" (the customer's positive feedback), and now it's time for your follow-up "give" with an elevation of your customer's testimony.
"With your permission, I'd like to post your testimony on our site for others to see. Would that be OK with you?" you might ask a shopper.
Just try to stop that customer from returning with, "Yes, please post my comments. I'm happy to have others know how satisfied I am with your service." Sounds a bit contrived?
It's not—happy customers want to see that happiness shared, and they'll get a bit of a buzz from seeing their comments proliferated for others to see. You get the idea. You're working hard to satisfy customers and they're collaborating with you to keep your good business charging ahead.
Happy customers want to see that happiness shared, and they'll get a bit of a buzz from seeing their comments proliferated for others to see
Ask and you shall receive
Here's how to get that feedback you so desire, the sort that shouts out to other customers they should come shop with you:
- The easiest ask is the no-ask approach. Your high-quality goods and top-notch service can be so pleasing customers can't help but express their thanks. That's the nirvana of doing stellar business.
- But sometimes you have to ask. Simply include a phrase in your sales correspondence such as, "Your satisfaction is our goal. Let us know if you have any troubles with what you've purchased. If you're very satisfied, please consider posting your thoughts for others' benefit. Thanks!" Craft the message as it best suits you, but don't be afraid to ask.
- Utilize your business' social presence to get the feedback flowing. You can begin with a post that thanks customers for their recent purchases and for their positive comments. Usually, other satisfied customers will chime in, too.
Feedback is wearing a happy face again. When you put forth your best efforts, your customers will be happy to let you and others know that your business is a good one, one that's worth keeping around. Bravo!