How to improve online sales with digital feedback

How to apply the ask, analyze, and act framework to gain rapid insight into the online purchasing funnel and improve sales.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the move from retail to online shopping. Even prior to global lockdowns and quarantines, customers were already changing their purchasing habits to more frequent online shopping. Back in 2019, Forrester calculated that online retail sales reached $608 billion, or 17% of total U.S. retail spending.

This trend has only advanced, and it’s likely to continue in that direction. In June 2020, we asked consumers about their intended shopping behavior following COVID-19; 60% of the respondents in the U.K., and 58% of the respondents in Germany, indicated that they will do “about the same amount of online shopping as they are doing today,” whilst 48% of the respondents in the U.S., and 40% of the respondents in France, indicated they will probably do more online shopping than they are doing presently. 

If anything, COVID-19 has underscored the importance of ecommerce when it comes to business to consumer (B2C) businesses. While focusing on a great digital experience might have been a “best-in-class” feature before, now it is table stakes. Without prioritizing the ecommerce experience, retailers will not be able to compete in a post-COVID world. 

That’s why gathering digital feedback is so critical. For e-commerce and CX professionals, conversion is one of the most important metrics to track success. But, how do you improve your conversions in your checkout funnel without knowing what your customers think about the experience? 

With the influx of online shoppers, any improvements you make to your checkout process and purchasing funnel will pay off exponentially. Implementing a digital feedback framework is the first step to knowing how to improve your online sales. 

This guide explains the ask, analyze, and act framework that ecommerce companies should use to gain rapid insight into the online purchasing funnel and improve online sales.

Step 1

Ask: Collect feedback

Picture this: you’re shopping for a new pair of running shoes online. You pull up the website of your favorite sporting goods store and start to browse through their selection. You’re quickly overwhelmed by the number of choices, so you click on the first pair to read more about the product description. What does pronation mean? Do you need ultra-cloud soft support? This is getting tricky. 

But you muddle through, pick out a nice pair of sneakers, and head to the checkout. Okay, looks like you can’t use your AMEX card here. Time to go grab another card. Finally, success. You’ve checked-out and your new sneakers are on their way to your door. Easy? Not really, but you’ve made it through. 

When you consider this process from the retailer’s perspective, they likely only see a successful purchase. They don’t know how many questions the customer had while browsing. They don’t see the bugs that create frustration for the shopper.

This is why the ask stage—in other words, collecting feedback—is so important. Asking customers about their experience provides the opportunity to dig deep into each step and see the experience through their eyes. Without asking for feedback, you can easily miss the details. 

In-the-moment feedback illuminates the not-so-obvious issues of your customer’s experience. By triggering ask requests at specific moments, you can identify exactly what the customer is feeling and thinking at any point in the customer journey–insight they may not share with you in the future. 

At every stage of the purchasing journey, it’s critical to solicit feedback from shoppers to understand their expectations, frustrations, and speedbumps. 
Let’s break down the steps to the ask stage. 

1. The purchasing funnel

The purchasing process is referred to as a funnel because the number of customers who make it into each stage is reduced as browsers abandon their purchase. Improving conversion rates enlarges the funnel so that more customers continue their journey and eventually convert. 

The beginning of the funnel is where shoppers are just starting to learn about your products. Often referred to as the Discovery stage, customers are asking questions, reading information, and making first impressions about your brand and your products. They might also need to learn more about sizing and shipping policies to make their decision. 

The purchase stage can become the biggest barrier to conversion, thus costing retailers thousands of dollars in abandoned carts. During the checkout process, you might offer a sign-in option and different payment options. Collecting shipping and billing information can create friction in the customer’s journey, especially if there are bugs or technical issues with your payment or ecommerce platform. See our guide How to combat shopping cart abandonment for more on this topic.

Finally, the post-purchase stage is where the order is confirmed. Customers are sent emails with tracking information and often provided with an opportunity to provide feedback. 

2.  How to collect feedback in the purchasing funnel

Most customers are generous with their feedback when given the chance. The majority of global customers, according to our 2020 survey on online shopping trends, are either very likely or somewhat likely to complete a feedback survey (France (83%), Germany (75%), the U.S. (68%), and the U.K. (56%). However, using the right tool or method at each stage will improve your feedback collection rates. 

Real-time feedback, targeted surveys, and survey triggering are different methods of asking customers to share their opinion. Each method works best in certain situations. 

Feedback button for technical issues or bug reporting

If a customer runs into a problem while they’re checking out, they aren’t likely to stop their purchase, search for your customer support email and let you know about it. Instead, they’ll probably just attempt to finish their purchase (or leave) and you’ll never be any the wiser. 

A feedback button makes it easy for customers to report bugs at the moment they encounter them. The feedback button can be placed anywhere, but we recommend placing it on the right side of the page as the eye naturally moves from left to right while digesting site or app content. This way, the button doesn’t interfere with any pertinent information and is easily accessible to the user.

Feedback button image

(GetFeedback Digital feedback button)

Make sure customers have access to the feedback button at every stage of the purchasing funnel so they can leave feedback whenever they feel compelled. 

When you allow users to act as your quality control, it serves as a net to catch any and all bugs that slip through your filters. By being able to fix technical issues quickly, you can prevent them from impacting your conversion rate. Every solved problem saves your company from losing money from frustrated customers. 

For a more in-depth look at using feedback for bug tracking, check out our free guide How to use real-time feedback for bug tracking.

Implementing a feedback button on your website and apps is key to ensuring your customers have a seamless checkout experience. It allows you to find and fix bugs in real-time so the customer’s experience isn’t impeded. 

There are other ways to improve the online experience with feedback. Capturing targeted and specific feedback with surveys allows you to segment and drill-down on the exact questions you want to be answered. Let’s go over that next.

Targeted surveys and survey triggering 

Every business has different questions they need to answer. Triggers and targeted surveys help capture exactly the right insights your business needs. These active surveys (compared to the passive feedback button) allow you to ask a precise set of users the right questions at specific points in the customer journey. And because they’re targeted, you can be more selective about the questions you ask, which keeps surveys shorter and customers more likely to want to engage with them. 

Targeted surveys 

The more specific you can be with your surveying, the more sophisticated your Voice of Customer (VoC) strategy can become. With targeting, you can selectively survey users based on the already-known account information (e.g. location, age), and pinpoint users who already have a specific browser cookie and more. You can use this functionality to ask specific questions. Below are some examples: 

  • A company that is trying to increase sales of a new men’s accessory line could ask male browsers “How would you describe your style?” to dig further into their audience’s interests. 

  • A company could target users in different stages of the purchasing funnel with questions like “Did you find everything you’re looking for today?” to determine what is preventing browsers from converting, or to help increase cart size. 

  • A company could ask customers in a certain region about their shipping or payment preferences to better serve their global customers. 

Survey triggering

Behavior-based triggering can be deployed to ask questions with more context. Survey triggering identifies an action that might be unusual or unwanted and then asks the customer how they are feeling, or what they need. 

For example, if customers are scrolling through large numbers of products, you can trigger a survey asking them if they are looking for anything specific. If customers indicate exit intent, such as the mouse leaves the window during checkout, you can ask why they are leaving. 

The exit survey 

The context of your surveys matter. No one wants to take a break in the middle of the checkout process to fill out an eight-page survey.

Incorporating surveys as a natural part of the checkout flow can boost completion rates resulting in more feedback and deeper insight. A recent GetFeedbackstudy found clients saw completion rates of up to 52% on confirmation of purchase surveys. 

Ecco shopping cart abandonment image

(GetFeedback Digital survey on ecco’s checkout page)

Shoe brand ecco wanted to answer two major questions: why were customers stalling part-way through their purchase and how could ecco make the checkout process smoother? 

By implementing GetFeedback surveys, ecco received invaluable digital feedback to help boost their sales by improving the checkout process.

Here is how they did it: 

  • First, they created a slide-out survey that appeared after a customer had spent over two minutes on a product page to see if there was anything preventing the customer from adding an item to their cart. 

  • Secondly, they launched a post-purchase survey to gather insight into the checkout process and find ways to engage customers with future promotions. What did customers find frustrating? How smoothly did they feel the process went? What other products are you interested in? This feedback helped ecco eliminate friction in the checkout process and improve marketing for return customers. 

Exit-surveys are an effective method to capture customer feedback before a customer abandons their online cart. It gives your brand one last chance to understand your buyer and what they need in order to purchase from you. 

Global airline, Transavia, triggered an exit survey when a customer motions to exit the page. Once the customer’s mouse moves above the URL, they are presented with a quick two-question survey asking about the customer’s intentions.

(GetFeedback Digital exit-survey) transavia

(GetFeedback Digital exit-survey) 

This qualitative feedback is invaluable to making design decisions in the purchasing funnel with the customer’s needs in mind.  

3. What to measure

While qualitative in-the-moment feedback can provide a wealth of insight into how your users feel, quantitative measurements are also important. These metrics provide context around your customer’s feedback and can help you track progress towards key goals. 

Goal Completion Rate (GCR): GCR measures whether a customer was able to accomplish the objective during their visit to your store. GCR is a KPI for monitoring online sales efforts. As customers move through the purchasing funnel, the more customers who successfully complete their goal, the better your company will fare. Reporting on the overall percentage of customers who are successful keeps the company’s focus right where it should be: on the customer. 

It can either be measured within your website analytics program as a conversion metric (ie. customer visited the online store and purchased) or used as a feedback metric. 

When using GCR as a completion metric, use an exit survey to ask your customers if they accomplished their goal today. In some cases, customers are not ready to purchase yet - their goal might simply be to research available options. If customers did not accomplish their goal, request their contact information so you can follow up with them to assist further. 

Whether measured as a conversion rate or as a feedback metric, GCR is reported as a percentage over a certain period of time (ie. 25% GCR in the last week would mean that 1 out of every 4 users accomplished their goal).

Customer Effort Score: It’s generally accepted that making it easier to purchase from your online store results in more conversions. Customer Effort Score (CES) is a common metric used to measure how easy your customers find it to do business with you.

In GetFeedback’s 2020 report on the state of online shopping, a vast majority of respondents said that the user-friendliness of the website mattered the most in deciding whether to purchase again in the future. 

Using in-the-moment feedback, ask customers how strongly they agree with the following statement: “Company made it easy to do X” where X may be a number of different goals including purchasing, donating, getting help, etc. 

CES full survey (1)

(GetFeedback Digital CES survey post-donation)

Customers respond on a scale from 1-7, where 1 is “strongly disagree” and 7 is “strongly agree.” To report CES, look at both the average of the scores (aim for a score above 5) and the distribution. Interactions that result in a low score should be analyzed to see what friction customers have experienced. 

Net Promoter Score: The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric specifically designed to accurately predict how likely a customer is to be loyal in the future. Rather than measuring individual interactions, NPS should be used holistically to understand how customers perceive their entire experience. Because of this, NPS is collected through surveys at the end of the purchasing funnel, often after the product has been delivered.


(GetFeedback Digital post-purchase NPS survey)

To measure NPS, customers are asked “How likely are you to recommend X to a friend or family member?” Responses are collected on a scale of 1 (not very likely) to 10 (very likely). 

Customers who respond with a 6 or lower are considered Detractors who are very likely to spread negative feedback about your product and likely won’t repurchase in the future without intervention. Customers who respond with a 9 or higher are Promoters, who have the potential to become brand advocates and are much more likely to purchase again in the future. 

To calculate your NPS, subtract the percentage of customers who identified as Detractors from the percent of customers who respond as Promoters to receive a score between -100 and +100.

For the full list of metrics to consider, check out our UX metrics guide.

4. Best practices for measurement

When implementing surveys to collect CX metrics, there are a number of best practices to follow. These will keep your data collection accurate, and improve the rates of responses. 

Keep it short: Not only do most customers tend to not complete longer surveys, but the customers that do make it through to the end will also spend dramatically less time answering each question. Perhaps counterintuitively, to receive more thoughtful responses, it’s important to keep surveys short. Aim for fewer than three questions to have the best chance of good response rates. 

In-the-moment: Human memory is flawed. If there is a significant delay between the customer’s experience and your survey, their memory will fade and you won’t receive as detailed responses. Even worse, if customers aren’t asked for their feedback at the moment, they would need to go looking for contact information to share their opinion. Very few customers will put forth the effort to share their feedback when it isn’t easy to do so.

Step 2

Analyze: Understand your customers’ needs

The second step in using digital feedback to improve online sales is to analyze the information and feedback you collected in the ask step. Without taking the time to dive deep and understand the “why” behind customer feedback, you might as well not even ask customers for their thoughts. 

Analyzing feedback does two things; first, it helps to clarify exactly what customers are looking for and why. Secondly, it helps you prioritize which actions you take. 

Knowing how many customers are asking for what and how strongly they feel about their feedback can help to identify which improvements will have the biggest impact on your online sales. For example, if only a few customers are asking to pay with AMEX, but they are your highest paying customers and consistently rate your company poorly on surveys, it might be worth adding AMEX to your checkout page. 

The success of your online sales depends on how many customers successfully follow through with their purchase on your website or app. Yet, many brands struggle with customers browsing, adding items to their cart, and then exiting before taking any further action. Improving shopping cart abandonment rates is critical to improving online sales. 

The term shopping cart abandonment refers to when a prospective customer starts the checkout process for an online order but drops out before completing the purchase. In other words, when there is an item in an online shopping cart that never makes it through the transaction, it’s considered to be “abandoned” by the shopper. 

As previously mentioned, an exit survey is a great way to capture deeper insight into why users behave the way they do within the purchasing funnel. In the image below, with data from the Baymard Institute, you can see that there are varying reasons why customers abandon carts.

Shopping cart abandonment reasons

With feedback analysis on exactly why customers are exiting digital channels, you can prioritize the changes to make based on what will have the most impact on the largest number of customers.

Next, we’ll discuss how to report the most important UX metrics and how to combine these metrics with customer qualitative insight.

1. Combine metrics with qualitative feedback

Your anchor question is only part of the equation. While it’s useful to know that a customer did not achieve their goal, or that their NPS response is a 5, that doesn’t tell you the why. And it certainly doesn’t tell you what you need to do to help them achieve the goal or become a promoter on their next experience. 

Follow-up questions give visitors the chance to explain their answers. For example, consider a goal completion survey. The customer states that they have not achieved their goal. While that’s useful to know, adding two follow-up questions can help you better understand what’s really happening. A drop down question might ask the customer to choose their goal from a list of options (ie. make a purchase, research product options, get help). A second free form question might give them space to write, in their own words, what prevented them from achieving their goal. 

Linking scores like CES, NPS, and GCR with open questions helps you understand the why behind what customers are telling you. Only when you’re equipped with this information can you start to act on customer feedback.

Customer case study

Coolblue reduces returns with GetFeedback Digital’s slide-out survey

Among their large portfolio of home electronics, Coolblue offers stoves and hobs. When they noticed that these products resulted in a much larger number of returns compared to other categories, they began to look closer at their customer’s purchasing journey. As it turns out, most returns happened simply because customers ordered a product with the wrong specifications, and stoves and hobs need to be ordered according to a number of technical specifications to be installed properly. To resolve this issue, Coolblue implemented GetFeedback Digital’s slide-out survey, a functionality that allows for subtle visitor surveys on the website, to validate whether the customers had checked the necessary specifications before purchase. Using follow-up questions, Coolblue has avoided unnecessary returns, which results in happier customers buying the right product for their needs.

2. Report on the purchase funnel 

Visual aids can be useful for displaying data. Many tools can help show the impact of your customer experience efforts in graphs, charts, and trendlines. These visual representations of your customers’ feedback are more impactful and persuasive than unprocessed data. 

When reporting data, consider your audience. Whether it’s the C-Suite or your fellow colleagues, using tools that help illuminate what’s truly important will help you make your point and take action. 

Benchmarking is another method of understanding what your data is telling you. With benchmarks, you can gauge how your product or service performs within your industry, giving you a clear understanding of where you fit in the bigger picture. Comparing your performance against the market can also help you set and achieve realistic goals. Within the GetFeedback platform, you can benchmark your feedback data against other businesses on NPS results, technical data like browser and operating systems, and sentiment. 

Word clouds display the most commonly used words and phrases captured by your user feedback surveys. Using text analysis to comb through comments is a great way to understand what your users are talking about. For example, if the most frequently used word in your word cloud is “shipping”, that’s a good place to start digging. From there, you could look at what customers say about the shipping policies and identify opportunities to improve verbiage or shipping options to boost conversion rates.

3. Use Integrations to provide context

Many businesses collect data through a number of different systems. You might be tracking your user’s website journey using Google Analytics, and their shopping cart habits through an ecommerce platform. All of these data points can provide helpful information to enhance your understanding of customer feedback. 

By connecting with other platforms, integrations pull in additional data to give you a full picture of what your customers were doing when they left feedback.

Many brands use Salesforce as a single source of truth for all customer data. We’ll dive deeper into integrating your customer feedback with Salesforce to improve online sales in the act chapter. 

Combining quantitative metrics with qualitative insights gives you a holistic view of the customer experience. This sets you up to dive deeper into customer needs and understand exactly where to make changes across your digital channels. Once you’ve analyzed your digital feedback, it’s time to take action.

Step 3

Act: Turn feedback into sales

You’ve collected customer feedback and analyzed it to make sense of it. Now is the time to turn that valuable feedback into action. Taking action is what synthesizes all of the digital feedback and surveys into higher conversion rates, increased revenue, and happier customers.

Taking action is usually a cross-functional process. It requires coordination and buy-in from a number of different teams. Additionally, with all metrics, it’s essential to close both the inner and outer feedback loop. 

The inner feedback loop involves filtering feedback directly to the person who needs to read it. For GCR surveys, following up with customers who weren’t able to complete their goal can recover a lost sale. In the U.K., 72% of shoppers believe it’s extremely or very important that companies follow up on negative survey responses. Otherwise, they may not shop with that company in the future. 

The outer feedback loop looks to find bigger trends and share that information across the company. For example, if multiple customers are finding it difficult to decide which size of sofa cover to order, it might make sense to create a new size chart or offer free exchanges for sizes. 

In this section, we’ll walk through how you can mobilize your organization to act on digital feedback, respond to individual customers, and take more holistic action to drive online sales through a better experience.

1. Understand your goals and key stakeholders 

The first step to taking action is to be purposeful about what you want to achieve. Start by identifying the metric or issue that you want to target. For example, through the use of a GCR survey and text analysis you’ve identified a pricing issue that is causing customers to abandon their shopping carts partway through the purchasing journey. 

Your goal is to reduce the shopping cart abandonment rate by 5% by making a pricing change. You’ll measure the effectiveness of your action by looking at GCR survey responses and shopping cart abandonment rates.

Secondly, because pricing changes impact a large number of stakeholders within the organization, you’ll want to identify which departments should be involved. At the least, you’ll want to talk to:

  • Sales, to determine the best strategy for overcoming pricing objections. 

  • Finance, to determine how a pricing change may impact the business’ finances.

  • Marketing, to understand how the website will need to be changed. 

  • Engineering/Product, if there are changes needed in the checkout process.

  • Support, to update any documentation and alert them of potential customer inquiries. 

Only when you understand your goals and have looped in every stakeholder should you proceed with making the change. With clear planning, you’ll be the most empowered to make the necessary changes and to track the impact it has on your online sales.

2. Establish an internal feedback workflow 

To organize and disseminate feedback that requires immediate action as quickly as possible, create a workflow for case management. 

By prioritizing, setting a status, and assigning items to the right team or colleague, you’re empowered to create an efficient process of handling feedback.

Prioritizing: Save time by triaging incoming feedback as “business-critical” or “non-critical.” 

Set a status: Keep everyone on the same page and work better together using case statuses. Report on progress and mark items as resolved when an action has been taken. 

Assign items: Get the feedback in the hands of the right person, quickly. Assign incoming feedback items and issues to the right team or person to make sure they are dealt with efficiently. 

GetFeedback Digital’s case management features help you stay on top of feedback, act quickly on new issues that arise, and work together on improving the online customer experience. 

3. Close the loop with Salesforce 

Connecting your digital feedback program with Salesforce helps create a more complete CX program. You’ll be able to pull more context into your surveys and push feedback into Salesforce to take intelligent action that drives business results.

To close the loop with Salesforce:

  1. Start by defining your goals. You may be tracking GCR or NPS already. Improving these metrics is a great goal to start with. 

  2. Integrate your feedback platform with Salesforce. This connects your CX data from surveys with your CRM data on Salesforce. Ideally, this connection goes both ways so you can pull personalized data from your CRM into your surveys, and tie results into the specific customer record on Salesforce. 

  3. Tailor your survey experience for each customer. Because you know who your customers are, and if they’ve purchased previously, you can ask them exactly the right questions. Not only does this increase survey engagement, but it also gets you more valuable data to fill in the bigger picture. 

  4. Automate your surveys. Using Salesforce, you can distribute your surveys with a controlled cadence so that customers don’t become fatigued and stop responding. Choose the channels you want to use, and time your surveys with your customers’ actions. 

  5. Analyze and take action. Using dashboards and other visual reporting tools, you can get a quick overview of customer feedback. Determine your goals and take action to improve the customer’s experience and boost your online sales. 

For more on integrating your feedback solution with Salesforce, check out our free guide.

By sending surveys with One-Touch email, response rates have increased 120%. GetFeedback also allows us to automate our distribution and instantly pipe response data directly into Salesforce. This saves our team 20-30 hours of manual work each month and helps us to run more efficiently. It’s been a game-changer. —Shivam Shah, Vena Solutions

In conclusion

Online shopping is continuing to rise and is expected to remain popular even as the pandemic subsides. Because of this, checkout optimization and customer feedback have become more pressing than ever. 

The ask, analyze, and act cycle helps businesses collect digital feedback that leads to actionable insights. Using these insights, ecommerce stores can improve their online sales.

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*Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.