Forrester Research has predicted that online retail sales will reach nearly $300 billion in the United States alone by 2015. As more across the globe turn to the web for gift ideas and for shopping transactions, retailers who expect to continue growing must focus on creating the best possible online experience for their customers. To do this, retailers must incorporate feedback about their websites from the customers who are actually using them. It’s been proven time and again that whether through social media channels or an in-site review system, customers want to hear their fellow customers’ feedback, and whatever the investment in such an infrastructure, the ROI pays for itself. So here’s what you should be doing today, if you haven’t already:
Customers provide recommendations through multiple channels, including social media, call centers and product reviews. If they’re not giving them to you, don’t hesitate to ask. Many retailers might first be wary of creating such an open forum: what if people post BAD reviews? This is, of course, a risk that must be taken to reep the rewards from all the good reviews which will hopefully outweigh the bad. Listening to the customer voice will help you to understand the effectiveness of your sales funnel. The more responsive you are to customer feedback, the more nimbly you will create the changes that customers want to see online. Quick website adjustments will result in quick jolts to revenue growth.
When you deliver customer feedback to people in your company, you may encounter resistance based on ignorance, excuses or lack of skill. Make sure that company leadership sends clear messages about what is expected to the web development and e-commerce teams. Do everything necessary to overcome the disconnect that may exist between the design architecture desired by IT and the experience desired by customers. Hopefully the teams can work together to iron out any disagreements. If possible, implement responsiveness to customer feedback as a significant element in personnel evaluations and growth plans in order to incentivize your various teams to work toward this goal.
Continue to collect customer feedback about website improvements, and pass that feedback along to the team. Knowing that the changes actually made a difference in revenue will be motivating to all stakeholders. Additionally, seeing a direct connection between customer requests, website improvements and growth in sales will help both company leaders and IT teams to buy into future customer feedback that is brought to their attention.
Responding to what your customers want online will position your company to grow as online transactions and interactions increase. You will generate positive buzz about your responsiveness in social media and in other important outlets. Also, you will enhance the customer relationship, which will translate into increased revenue and customer loyalty. Just be sure that before you implement your review system it is really that – a system. Open up the floodgates without preparation for what’s to come and you could find yourself drowning.