Customer Feedback for Ecommerce: The Whats, Whys, and Hows

Gathering feedback from your customers has numerous advantages: it allows you to gauge customer satisfaction, identify areas of your business that need improvement, and implement changes that can positively impact your revenue. With so many ways to obtain and analyze customer feedback, it can be difficult to identify which strategy would be most rewarding for your business. Below, we detail the two main types of feedback (qualitative and quantitative), the most effective ways to solicit each type, and general best practices for feedback collection.

Quantitative Feedback

Quantitative feedback involves collecting feedback in a way that can be calculated and measured numerically, such as rating on a scale of ten, ranking items by importance, or counting the amount of clicks a particular item receives. The purpose of quantitative feedback is to provide clear-cut results on predetermined objectives that can be acted upon quickly.

Why Quantitative Feedback Is Important

While collecting feedback based on fixed data may seem limiting, using quantitative feedback can offer several unique advantages for your business.

  • It allows you to easily identify trends. Looking for patterns around quantitative feedback you receive can help you determine how widespread an issue is—and whether it can even be addressed. Say you are asking customers to rate various aspects of their overall experience. If a large portion of customers rate their shipping experience poorly, you know immediately that you need to re-evaluate your shipping process. You can also group these responses together and look for specific patterns in the data around this subset of customers. You may find that they all live in a similar area of the country that is simply experiencing delays due to inclement weather.
  • It gives you a more objective measure of success or failure. Pulling quantitative feedback over a long period of time will give you a clear idea of whether any changes you implemented after receiving negative feedback have made a difference in the customer experience. Let’s say you are measuring feedback on a marketing campaign based on the amount of clicks it receives. If your campaign was slow to attract clicks, you may experiment with changing something like the color of your CTA button. If your click count picks up over time, the change you made was a success!
  • It provides you with clear-cut action items. Because quantitative feedback typically involves a predetermined objective, the results you receive will generally point you toward what action should be taken next. Imagine you have polled your customers on what new product they’d like to see in your store. The most advantageous course of action would be to add whichever item (or items) has received the most votes to your array of product offerings.

How to Gather Quantitative Feedback

There are many ways to gather quantitative feedback to benefit your business. Below, we detail those that are used most often by ecommerce businesses.

  • Ask customers using Customer Satisfaction Metrics surveys. There are many existing metrics for gauging customer happiness and engagement with your brand quantitatively, the most popular of which include Customer Effort Score (CES), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Using popular scoring systems such as these are helpful because not only can you see how well your customers rate your business—you can also see how your ratings compare to existing industry averages or benchmarks.
  • Send out quantitative surveys or polls via email or social media. Think about where your customers are most responsive and ask for more specific quantitative feedback there. Vote-style surveys and polls are great ways to ask customers for feedback using specific parameters. You can even send more targeted surveys via email if, for example, you’d like to assess whether customers who purchased a “limited-time only” product feel like it adds to your brand and should be made a permanent product.
  • Analyze data from A/B tests, click tracking, or heat maps. These analyses are uniquely useful because they gather quantitative feedback without actually interacting with the customer directly. Whether you are testing which landing page design yields the most conversions, which CTA button placement results in the most clicks, or where on your site customers are spending the most time, tools like these can provide a wealth of measurable data.

Qualitative Feedback

Qualitative feedback, on the other hand, involves collecting feedback through verbal or written means that results in more in-depth, detailed data. Most qualitative feedback is obtained by asking open-ended questions and allowing customers to explain their experience in their own words, providing a bigger-picture view of why they may feel a certain way.

Why Qualitative Feedback Is Important

While sifting through loads of lengthy responses can be time-consuming, asking your customers for quantitative feedback has its own set of benefits.

  • It gives you context for how customers feel about your business. Customers who are given a chance to rate your business on a predetermined scale are limited in their ability to express why that score was given. Say a customer rated their experience as “Neutral.” Perhaps the entire experience was perfect aside from one pretty major issue. Alternatively, there could have been several minor issues that require attention. A qualitative feedback model gives you the opportunity to determine what made customers perceive their experience in a particular way.
  • It alerts you to more nuanced issues. Quantitative data is great at telling you WHAT the problem is quickly, but qualitative is helpful for determining the WHY. Take the poor shipping experience example from above: quantitative feedback identified that there was an issue that needed to be addressed. If feedback was requested in an open-ended way instead, you might find that multiple customers had packages arrive damaged, and from there could identify which shipping carrier was used for their orders that might not be handling your packages with care.
  • It lets customers express themselves and feel heard. Sometimes, customers who have had a poor experience just need to vent. Giving them a channel to do so that is not open for the public to see—and that a real person will be reviewing—gives unhappy customers the opportunity to feel like their feedback is actually being taken into account. On a more positive note, asking for qualitative feedback also gives happy customers who are loyal fans the ability to praise you for your great work and feel like they are a part of driving your brand towards success.

How to Gather Qualitative Feedback

Ecommerce businesses have fewer options when it comes to gathering quantitative feedback. Some of the most popular methods are outlined below.

  • Read online customer reviews and comments. Your customers are likely already leaving qualitative feedback for you without you even having to ask. Check out what has been posted already, as well as how others are reacting to what has been said. These customer discussions can contain an abundance of relevant insights.
  • Send out open-ended surveys via email or social media. Simply asking customers what they think in a way that allows them to openly speak their mind is a proven method for compiling opinions. Just make sure that you have the bandwidth to sort through all of the feedback you receive and respond when necessary.
  • Ask customers directly via phone or chat. While this is the most time-consuming method of collecting qualitative data, it can be the most valuable because of its organic nature. Additionally, it adds an important (and highly-favored) marketing trait to your brand: personalization.

Which is Better—Quantitative or Qualitative Feedback?

Both types of feedback have their own advantages and drawbacks. Quantitative feedback can be collected and analyzed more quickly with possible action items already laid out to execute, whereas qualitative feedback gives you a more complete picture of issues or things that make customers excited.

When possible, we suggest combining quantitative and qualitative methods to achieve the most helpful results. For example, have customers answer qualitative questions, and if they rate them low, follow up asking for qualitative feedback. This gives you the convenience and speediness of clear-cut, actionable answers with the added context you need to make the RIGHT choices.

Best Practices for Feedback Collection

With a better grasp on different types of feedback and how to obtain them, you can now begin planning and implementing your own customer feedback strategy. Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing so to ensure you get the most out of your feedback-gathering experience.

  • Ask about the good AND the bad. It may be tempting to try to focus on the parts of your business you already know are great to drum up positive sentiments. However, asking about the bad will also give you a chance to learn about ways you can make your customers happier overall.
  • Ask about your competition. The best way to one-up the competition is to figure out what they’re offering that you aren’t. And what better source for this information than the people they are trying to sell to as well? This tactic can also give you a better understanding of where you stand in the industry as a whole.
  • Ask about what opportunities you're missing. Why struggle on your own to define future opportunities when you can get customers to tell you exactly what they would like to see from you down the road? Your customers have the best insight into what will bring them back, keep them coming back, or fuel further excitement for your business.
  • Ask genuinely and appeal to customers personally. A robotic, mass-produced message is much less likely to get attention than one that feels like it was created just for that customer. Personalizing and humanizing your message will make customers much more likely to respond and provide insightful feedback.
  • Offer a reward. The most tried-and-true method for compelling people to take action is to offer something to them in return. Your customers are probably busy, so they're more likely to remember to respond if they are given an incentive to do so, such as a sample product, an exclusive discount, or a free gift.
  • Thank them. Remember that your customers are taking time out of their busy schedules to do you a favor. Part of thanking your customers for their time is offering an incentive to show that you realize their time is valuable, but the other part is actually saying the words "Thank you" so they know that their time is appreciated.

In Conclusion

Without soliciting feedback from your customers—the reason your business is able to operate in the first place—any steps you take to improve, grow, or expand your business will be nothing but shots in the dark. Collect feedback in multiple forms, make informed decisions about any updates that should be made to your business, and see your revenue improve.