How to Implement a Post-Purchase Survey to Boost Ecommerce Sales

The 8 steps to creating a successful post-purchase survey plan.


Nick Shaw

May 29, 2020

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If customer surveys aren’t playing an integral role in your marketing strategy you need to correct this right away. Online surveys—especially those carried out in real-time—can tell you how your customers are feeling about every stage of a transaction on your site. 

Just as an inventory management system helps you keep track of stock, implementing a regular feedback program will bring you the data you need to better manage your customers’ expectations.

Use feedback to manage the experience and retain customers

Building a loyal customer base is the holy grail for ecommerce providers. That’s because it's cheaper and more effective to market to existing buyers than it is to attract new ones. Once you’ve amassed a band of loyal followers, you’re in prime position to up-sell and cross-sell to them.

But here’s the thing: people will only buy from you or interact with your brand again if they’ve had a great customer experience (CX)—especially once they’ve checked out. 

Customers who walk away post check-out never to return have good reasons. You need to pin down those reasons if you’re to increase retention rates and reduce churn. 

To find out what’s putting people off your brand you need to get proactive and ask customers for feedback.

Ask customers to complete a post-purchase survey

A post-purchase survey will enable you to discover the negatives (and hopefully the positives!) of doing business with you. You can then feed this information right back into your marketing loop and use it to help reduce friction during the purchase process. That way, you’ll ensure customers keep coming back for more.

Now we’ve set out a good case for carrying out a post-purchase survey let’s dive in and get started with some best practices.

1. Keep it short and sweet: customers have better things to do

People aren’t generally time-rich and won’t want to enter into drawn-out discourse around their interaction with your brand (especially if it just wasn’t that memorable!). 

Make your survey short and easy to respond to. Multiple choice questions are a good place to start. You could give customers the option of rating their experience on a scale from, for example, 5 for "great check-out experience" to 1 for "really poor experience." 

Multiple choice questions offer users a way to rapidly input their feedback without taking up too much of their time. In fact, it should take users a minute or less to answer 5 closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions naturally take longer. 

2. Ask open-ended questions to draw out insightful feedback

Once someone has vented their feelings via multiple choice questions, give them the option to describe why they feel this way. Or, better still, ask them how you could improve. You may get unexpected answers which are always useful. They’re the responses that give you new insights into how people perceive your brand. 

Asking open-ended questions is a great way to draw out new information and discover new aspects of your business you’d never considered.

If you received negative review, you could ask: “What did you dislike about our purchase process?”

Then follow up with: “You told us you’re unhappy with our service. If there’s one thing we could do to improve your shopping experience with us what would it be?” 

Or, if you received a positive response, you could ask: “What did you particularly like about purchasing with us today?” or “Which other products would you consider buying from us?”

You get the idea.

Aim to keep the number of survey questions limited to 7 or below to prevent users from drifting away. 

Direct one-number feedback is classed as "quantitative," i.e. it’s based on numerical data that you can use to assess general feelings about your brand. You can collate these answers further down the road to track whether changes you subsequently make have improved customer experience or not.

These multiple choice answers can also serve as a stepping stone to gathering some qualitative data to gauge users’ specific problems (see next tip).

3. Be approachable in your wording

Personality is key. In your survey, talk to your customers in a friendly, conversational manner. Make sure your questions are easy to read and understand. Rather than asking whether they were "highly satisfied" with a product, ask "Do you love your purchase?"

4. Create a consistent brand experience

Recent studies indicate that brand consistency across all touchpoints helps to boost revenue. Your post-purchase survey is part of that mix. 

Keep logos, colours, tone of voice, and visuals in line when creating landing pages and all other digital communication channels. 

Remember your post-purchase survey is an integrated part of your ecommerce platform experience. Also remember to streamline thank you emails, packing slips, and all other on and offline communications with customers. 

5. Deliver your survey in a timely fashion

You need to present your customers with their survey while their shopping experience is at the front of their minds. This may mean via a popup on the Thank You page, or via an email a couple of days later. 

Bear in mind that showing customers an internal pop-up survey tends to lead to a higher response rate. Some schools of thought say you’re 2 to 4 times more likely to get a response when you take this approach.

Creating a survey in real-time means you’re catching people when they’re in the moment on the channel that they're using to engage with your brand. They’re actively happy or frustrated, and most likely to want to tell you about it. If you try to catch them further down the line via email or SMS, they’ll have turned their attention elsewhere. They might not have time to fill in your form or be otherwise disinclined. 

Plus, by inputting feedback while they’re on the checkout page they don’t have to think back and input answers in retrospect. Therefore, your feedback will be more accurate. 

6. Emphasise how much you value customer feedback

Response rates are likely to vary based on everything from demographics and perceived benefits, to how familiar users are with your brand. To up response rates emphasise how important it is to you to get feedback. Explain to customers that you will use it to make improvements.  

7. Adapt your post-purchase surveys to different audiences

Nothing gets you more customer brownie points than personalization. Consider targeting different segments of your customer base with different surveys. Repeat customers will get bored of receiving the identical post-purchase survey every time they buy from you. They’ll simply ignore it or find it irritating—maybe so irritating that they’ll start avoiding your site. 

For repeat purchasers, be creative and ask questions relevant to their status. Address them by referring to this status and acknowledge how much you value their custom. For example, you could start a message with "As you’re one of our most valued customers," before reiterating that their continued feedback is invaluable to your business. All  you want to do is provide them with an even better experience going forward. 

8. Automate, automate, automate

Successful ecommerce depends on automation. Tech touches every aspect of an ecommerce business, and virtually all retail processes benefit to some extent. If you’re not sure which areas to invest in when it comes to technology reading this recent Retail Tech Stack Report could help.

If you want to get things done as efficiently as possible, consider automating your post-purchase feedback surveys with online survey software. The advantages are:

  • Being able to get feedback in real-time so you can provide a better customer experience. Seeing answers in real time means you can respond right away to negative comments in an attempt to redress issues.

  • If people have been particularly positive about your brand you get right on and push them towards being brand Promoters.

  • You can also share information with teams—and integrate data across your ecommerce platform.

Why implement a post-purchase customer survey?

Customer feedback is an essential part of the marketing process. Sending out regular customer polls, then, should be an integral part of your strategy. This is backed up by recent research that shows marketers consider feedback as the key driver behind improving customer experience.

Without a feedback program in place, your interactions with customers are limited. They may only extend to transactional or negative communications via your ecommerce platform. You may only deal with customers personally when they return an item or complain. 

It makes much more sense to take the initiative to communicate with them regularly on a personal level. It shows that you care. Offering a post-purchase survey indicates to your customers that you value their opinion. This is a win-win situation. You’re gathering essential data to enable your company to make positive changes. At the same time, you’re also strengthening your relationship with your customers.

If you go about things in the right way, surveys can be incredibly simple and quick to set up, and you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time. So, if you haven’t considered implementing a post-purchase survey, we recommend it’s something to get on with right away. Just make sure you follow our helpful hints and tips. 

Learn how GetFeedback can help you exceed customers’ expectations—start your free trial today.

Editor’s note: This article reflects the personal opinions of our guest author.

About the guest author

Nick Shaw is the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of Brightpearl and is responsible for Global Marketing, Sales and Alliances for the leading retail inventory management software provider. He has written for sites such as X-Cart and IT Toolbox. Here is Nick Shaw’s LinkedIn.

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