6 Ways to Boost Customer Retention—and Stats to Know

So much time and effort is spent on customer acquisition. Marketing and sales consistently combine their efforts to attain the most customers at the lowest price.

But few businesses dedicate as many resources to customer retention.

And that’s a big mistake. Keeping customers happy and continuing to buy from your e-commerce business deserves (and often requires) as many resources.

Customer retention is a struggle for e-commerce businesses, and it’s only become more difficult since the pandemic.

Even as more people move their shopping online, there’s more competition than ever before.

Despite the struggles businesses across industries faced, 61% of customers say the pandemic has actually raised their customer service standards, according to Zendesk.

Challenges continue to plague e-commerce businesses, from staffing shortages to supply chain issues.

With higher standards and more difficulties, retaining customers is a struggle.

But focusing on customer retention strategies will help your e-commerce business keep customers happy and revenue high.

In this guide, we’ll deep dive into customer retention and provide tips on how to improve it.

What is customer retention?

The meaning of customer retention is the measurement of a company’s ability to keep customers. It’s important because it helps a company measure how good they are at satisfying customers.

It’s also often less expensive to retain customers than acquire new ones.

There are many metrics related to retention, including customer churn (also customer attrition), customer lifetime value, purchase frequency, etc.

Evaluating your customer retention rate starts with a simple formula, but it’s important to look holistically at your numbers to see what’s working and what you can improve.

How do you calculate customer retention?

Here’s a simple calculation to identify your customer retention rate (CRR):

(# of customers at the end of a given time period – # of new customers in a given time period ) / # of customers at the start of a given time period x 100 = CRR

For example, here’s what the number would look like if we were measuring customers from January 2022 to March 2022:

[2,000 (total customers in March 2022) – 1000 (new customers between January and March)] / 2,000 (total customers in January 2022) x 100 = 50% CRR

How do you calculate your churn rate?

The customer churn rate is the opposite of your customer retention rate. So in the above example, your CRR is 50%, and your churn rate will also be 50%. If your CRR was 75%, then your customer churn (or attrition) rate would be 25%.

Why do e-commerce businesses struggle with customer retention?

Many businesses struggle with customer retention, but e-commerce and e-tail businesses face an uphill climb.

Some businesses struggle to increase their retention rates, while others simply don’t even put together a customer retention strategy.

Here are a few reasons why e-commerce companies might be struggling.

E-commerce differentiators are harder to spot.

Customer retention often relies on brand loyalty, but e-commerce businesses often have a harder time standing out.

Because many retailers offer similar products with similar levels of quality, customers find it difficult to spot differentiators.

Without a branded storefront, an in-store customer service experience, and other tactile identifiers, it’s easier to compare e-tailers based on things like price and convenience.

Since these factors change often, it makes e-commerce companies appear interchangeable.

Brands think retention is only about their product or service.

While we know the mantra “so good it sells itself” rarely works, people are much more inclined to think it’s true when it comes to customer retention.

A common opinion is if the product or service you’re selling is truly great, retention should be a no-brainer.

But that’s not always the case.

While the quality of what you’re selling is a vital factor, retention takes careful strategy just like any other business tactic. Ignoring retention and hoping for the best is a recipe for disaster.

Acquisition is easier to track.

Anything that’s easier to track (and prove ROI) is much easier to justify. There are certain indicators that help track retention, like CRR, but they don’t paint a bigger picture of the business and take a while to see.

While customer acquisition has immediate metrics, retention metrics like customer lifetime value (CLV) are harder to nail down.

Companies with monthly subscriptions or those that sell frequently-used products can determine fairly quickly how they’re performing.

However, companies selling long-lasting products might have a harder time.

For example, a retailer that sells computers won’t have retention numbers until after they release multiple new models.

Since people only get new computers every few years, it’ll take at least that long to see if customers are returning to buy the new product.

It’s harder to see what’s not working.

Since customer retention rarely has a start and end date, making changes and tracking the results is a much slower process than high-speed customer acquisition.

It’s hard to see if customers are just enjoying their previous purchases longer or if customer retention strategies aren’t working.

Taking the computer example from above, it’ll likely take years to implement customer retention strategies, measure them, and make adjustments accordingly.

Customer retention statistics you should know.

A great way to get started and ensure you have a thorough understanding of customer retention is to dive into the statistics. Here are a few insights we pulled based on recent data.

Customer retention is a high-stakes game.

While Statista reported in 2020 that online retail businesses see a 22% churn rate (which equates to a 78% customer retention rate), Omniconvert reported that e-commerce businesses average only 30% CRR.

While these stats vary widely, it’s easy to see how retention could remain low for e-commerce businesses. The best CRR to benchmark your business against is your own.

Competition is tough, and it doesn’t take much for customers to switch retailers.

According to Zendesk’s CX Trends 2022 report, 61% of customers would now defect to a competitor after just one bad experience. Bump that up to two negative experiences, and 76% of customers are out the door.

Customer retention is cheaper.

Despite the flashy appeal of customer acquisition, it’s actually easier and more cost-effective to focus on customer retention.

According to American Express, it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer versus keeping the customer you already have.

There’s also an old Bain & Company statistic quoted by almost everyone who talks about customer retention that says a 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenue by 25-95%.

However, we advise you to take this with a grain of salt since it’s an outdated (and frankly vague) stat. We only include it here since it frequently makes the rounds on social media and in the blogosphere.

Despite dubious statistics, no one doubts that customer retention is an underused and undervalued tactic for increasing revenue.

Customer service and customer retention are intertwined.

Customer service is a big part of customer retention. While many business leaders think of customer support as an expense, it’s actually a big revenue generator.

In fact, Zendesk reported that 60% of business leaders agree that customer service improves customer retention.

Customers feel the same way: 81% say a positive customer service experience makes them more likely to make another purchase. This makes a lot of sense.

When customers have as many choices as they do today, they’re not likely to make multiple purchases after a bad experience.

Customer service’s impact also extends to revenue: 73% of business leaders report seeing a direct link between customer service and business performance.

Customer loyalty is all about emotion.

Customer loyalty is also talked about in the same breath as retention. Loyal customers are often your biggest source of sales, in addition to being brand evangelists.

So what does it take to endear a customer and make them loyal to their brand? Emotion.

According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 53% of customers say they feel an emotional connection to the brands they buy from the most.

Remember the old adage: People won’t remember what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Personalization is quickly becoming table-stakes.

Customer expectations have a big influence on whether they continue to purchase from your e-commerce business. And personalization is something they’ve come to expect.

Salesforce found that 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized. This number has jumped from 49% in 2019, and experts expect it to continue increasing.

While privacy concerns are at the top of customers’ minds, they also want businesses to know them and their preferences.

Convenience is the ultimate factor.

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that e-commerce brands must put convenience above almost everything else.

In the Zendesk CX Trends Report, customers admitted that 70.5% prioritize convenience over brand.

That means things like your checkout process, shipping procedures, and customer support features must all be frictionless to keep customers coming back.

The good news: Customers are interested in automated services if it makes their lives easier.

Here are some statistics of customers who are using or interested in using the following services:

  • Self-service account portals: 82%
  • Pre-orders for new or out of stock items: 80%
  • Chatbots for customer service: 70%

That means customers are open to automation, and you can take advantage of these services to streamline your customer service processes.

Investment in customer service and support is far behind business growth.

If customer service has such a direct impact on retention (and retention is cheaper and more effective than acquisition), that means the budget should reflect that. Right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Only 27% of business respondents strongly agree that their organization is adequately investing in support initiatives, according to Zendesk.

Customer service is growing, but is it enough?

Half of companies expect to increase funding by 25% by next year and another 25% the year after that.

Part of the problem is that many companies still view customer service as a cost center rather than a vital factor in customer retention and revenue growth.

What do these statistics tell us about customer retention? That there’s a lot of room for growth.

6 tips to improve customer retention in e-commerce.

Are you just starting to track your numbers or need some additional customer retention tips? Tap into these 6 customer retention strategies to boost your bottom line.

  1. Track the right metrics.

Your CRR and churn rate are good starting points, but you should also track recency rates (how recently a customer has made a purchase), frequency rates (how frequently a customer makes a purchase), and customer lifetime value.

Gathering these numbers will help you identify customer pain points and figure out the best time to engage with them.

It’s also important to track metrics that speak to deeper brand relationships, like Net Promoter Score®.

NPS® measures customer loyalty, which has a strong correlation with overall business growth. Figure out which metrics make the most sense for your business.

2. Lean into customer relationship-building strategies.

It takes personalization to build customer relationships en masse. As we mentioned above, it’s table stakes.

Customers expect simple personalizations like using their names on websites and in emails or offering product suggestions based on past purchases.

In order to stand out, you need to do more.

Consider curating product collections for customers. Try putting together customer profiles and deliver suggestions based on their preferences. Identify shopping patterns and craft email or text message touchpoints to reengage them at the right time.

There are many opportunities to give your customers the personalized shopping experience they crave.

3. Invest in the post-purchase customer experience.

What is your customer experience like after a purchase? Just ask your customer service agents.

While it’s likely they’re also answering questions and cross-selling before customers click buy, much of what your customer service team does happens after the purchase.

Here are some quick wins that have a big impact on whether customers come back:

  • Make the return/exchange process frictionless.
  • Provide order tracking via text message.
  • Ask for customer reviews.
  • Send helpful emails that go beyond transactional exchanges.
  • Ensure customer support is available should anything go wrong.

4. Don’t forget about the entire customer journey.

Retail loyalty is all about how you make the customer feel.

Every step of the customer journey has an impact on whether a customer makes a second purchase.

What was your checkout process like? Did they have to go searching for a phone number on your website to reach customer service? Were the products delivered damaged?

Any inconvenience can throw up a red flag and prevent customers from purchasing from you again.

5. Keep customers engaged.

Engaged customers stick around and buy more. There are several ways to keep customers engaged post-purchase:

  • Start a loyalty program. Customers love free stuff, and they’re willing to engage with your brand in order to get it. Loyalty programs offer endless opportunities for engagement, from posting product pictures to writing a review.
  • Build social communities. Brand communities are a hot topic. Try bringing customers together with a Facebook page or use a branded hashtag to highlight a promotion.
  • Offer exclusives. Exclusive deals are hard to pass up. Offer past customers early access, exclusive discounts or special merchandise to drive repeat sales.

6. Craft a customer listening program.

This goes beyond reviews. To encourage repeat business, you need to improve products and services—and the customer experience.

Deploy customer surveys, like NPS, customer satisfaction, and customer effort scores, but don’t stop there.

Try out different surveys and see which ones get the best feedback from customers that actually help your business improve.

Not only will you end up with a better product and customer experience, but customers will feel heard and respected—endearing them to your brand.

Make customer retention a top priority.

Focusing on customer retention won’t yield overnight success, but it helps improve customer satisfaction and boosts your bottom line.

With these customer retention tips, you can craft a long-term strategy to make every customer feel appreciated and come back for more.

9 Reasons Why Customers Want to Text You

People love their phones. The average American will spend nearly a month and a half (44 days) on their phones in 2022, according to a survey from Reviews.org. And they check their phones a staggering 344 times per day—up 31% from 2021.

But making a phone call? That they don’t love.

So if people aren’t making calls, what are they using their phones for? They’re checking social media apps, consuming news, replying to emails, and texting. People prefer SMS text to connect with family and friends—even businesses.

In fact, Juniper Research reported that global mobile business messaging traffic hit 2.7 trillion in 2020, up 10% from 2019. And customer service requests over SMS jumped 28% in 2021, according to Zendesk’s CX Trends Report.

Customers know what they want, but businesses are slow to respond. Nearly 93% of consumers want to communicate via text message, says Forbes, yet less than a third of consumers report getting text messages from them.

People want to send text messages. So why do so few companies offer it?

Business messaging includes SMS/texting, but it isn’t limited to it. There are many text apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, as well as messaging support through Google Business Messages and Apple Messages for Business.

What does this mean for your customer service team? It’s time to embrace business text messaging. Your customers want to text you, and here are 9 reasons why.

1. Customers want options.

Too many choices may lead to feeling overwhelmed, but that doesn’t stop customers from wanting them. There are countless ways to reach out to businesses. Customers have tasted the power to choose, and they want more.

People pick the method of communication that fits their problem. According to Zendesk’s 2020 CX Trends report, 40% of customers choose a channel based on the complexity of their issue. Simple questions may only merit a text, while explaining more complex issues over a phone call is probably easier.

It’s important to remember that you’re not replacing your call centers. You’re merely providing another option.

2. Your customers are busy.

Multitasking has become an art form with your customers juggling hundreds of tasks daily. They’ve been taught to maximize their productivity and not let one second of downtime go to waste. They even spend their free time (which they value more than ever) bettering themselves with restorative activities.

So it’s a big deal when they have to drop what they’re doing to call customer service—let alone wait on hold. Calling a support center when all they need is a quick answer breaks up the flow of their day.

Meanwhile, email support still feels like a more formal medium. People spend longer drafting messages, which wastes more of their day. Plus, they don’t know how quickly (or how long) it’ll take to receive a reply.

Customers want businesses to value their time.

Sending a text message fits your customers’ lifestyles and won’t disrupt their hectic days.

3. Your customers don’t want to wait.

They’re too busy optimizing their day for maximum productivity to wait on hold for customer service. According to a survey conducted by Arise, nearly two-thirds of customers say they’re only willing to wait 2 minutes or less before hanging up.

An aside: Though not the topic of the survey, 15% of Arise survey respondents said they do not contact customer service by phone. This implies that these customers never use the phone to connect with brands.

Customers also don’t want to wait for a response over email. That’s why texting is the goldilocks of the customer service world. It falls somewhere between instant in-person answers and delayed email responses.

Efficiency is critical for your customers as much as it is for you. Being able to ask a question, get a quick response, and move about their day will make them more productive and give them the confidence to do business with you again.

4. They just need a quick answer.

Simple questions don’t need a phone call. Getting answers to common queries like, “When will this be back in stock?” or “Where’s my order?” shouldn’t require a phone call and a potentially long wait on hold.

You likely have this information on your website, but you want to make it as simple as possible for customers to get answers. Sending a text is the simplest way for people to get answers—and it’s even faster when you use AI chatbots to tackle them.

Then customers get service without tying up your customer support agents on phone calls or even text responses.

5. Texting isn’t limited to millennials.

If you serve any generation other than millennials and Gen Z, you might think texting doesn’t apply. But it does—messaging isn’t just a young kids’ game.

It’s true that the younger the generation, the more likely they are to send a text message over making a call. But text messaging is still used by baby boomers and older generations.

AARP reported in 2018 that 9 in 10 adults over 50 use their smartphones to send instant messages, texts, or emails—and it’s likely that number has gone up dramatically since.

Because almost everyone uses text messaging to communicate with someone, it’s also a less technical way for people of any age to reach customer service.

Other messaging channels may require downloading an app or using unfamiliar social media. Text messaging, however, is ready to go on everyone’s device.

6. They can text on their terms.

What if your customers have a question outside of business hours? Waiting until 9–5, Mondays through Fridays, crushes their need for instant gratification. More than that, problems rarely occur on a set schedule.

Not only is sending a text faster than connecting over email and phone, but it’s also asynchronous. In short, that means both parties don’t need to be present for the conversation to continue. Your customer can send a message and then go about their day while waiting for a response. They control the cadence of the conversation.

This also benefits your customer service team. Instead of spending all their time on one call, agents can manage up to 8 conversations in the time it would take for one call.

7. They just prefer texting.

We’re all guilty of hitting ignore on a well-intentioned phone call or putting off making an appointment. More and more, people perceive a phone call as invasive and time-consuming.

According to a Bank My Cell survey, 75% of millennials avoid phone calls as they’re time-consuming. And 81% get apprehension anxiety before summoning up the courage to make a call. While millennials have a reputation for being phone-averse, it doesn’t stop with them.

Why do so many of us dread phone calls?

Among many reasons, it’s because they’re unpredictable. A customer service call can take a few minutes or half an hour, so customers don’t know how to prepare.

Business texts are quick and efficient, but they’re also just really convenient.

8. Customers want a better experience.

Your customer service team’s goal is to give your patrons the experience they want. Adding business messaging as a customer support channel and also a tool in your text message marketing arsenal—a relatively moderate lift on your end—will exponentially improve the experience for many of your customers.

In fact, customer satisfaction scores over messaging are 8–14 percentage points higher than other channels.

And the value of a great customer experience is higher than you might think. Customers are even willing to pay for it. PwC reports that 73% of people say customer experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.

From sending support messages to answering questions and even making purchases, you can create a complete customer experience right within a native texting app.

Plus, you’re likely to improve customer perception and help boost revenue as a result.

9. Customers want more than words.

When you think about business text messages, sending GIFs, emojis, and product videos may not be the first thing that comes to mind.

But it should be, especially if you’re doing SMS marketing, because “rich messaging” (as it’s been named) can seriously boost engagement with your messages. Think about it: How many times do you race to open an incoming message with a GIF or video link, vs. a standard text message?

Rich messaging can mean the difference between customers feeling like they’re texting a business, and feeling like they’re messaging a family member or friend.

By enabling additional media via SMS/text, you can help customers complete a whole slew of actions, including:

  • Completing transactions
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Browsing and selecting products

Your customers want to text you.

What are you waiting for? Companies that have enthusiastically embraced messaging have taken the customer experience to a whole new level.

Texting a customer and accepting incoming messages is one of the best ways to connect with them.

Whether you’re looking to strengthen your customer service game, or simply provide another avenue for customers to share feedback, messaging is the way forward.

Best Practices for Call Center Agents

No, the call center isn’t dead.

In the last few years, digital channels have seen tremendous growth. People can go online to find answers, send a text, chat with a bot, or even reach out on social media.

But while the industry’s focus has shifted to text-based communications, call centers aren’t going anywhere.

Last year, Salesforce reported that customers ranked “phone” as their second most preferred customer service channel. That’s up from their #3 spot in 2019—overtaking in-person interactions (for obvious reasons).

Since customers are still dialing, we’ve put together some best practices to help call center agents shine.

Show customers you care.

Providing great customer service starts and ends with emotions. Answering customers’ questions is vital, but you’re really there to connect with them. And it starts with communicating effectively.

Listen.

Listening is the first step. It needs to be said because it sometimes conflicts with other productivity goals. Take the time to listen to a customer’s complaints before diving into a script. Not only will you be better equipped to solve their problems (without a bunch of clarifying questions), but you also give the customer a chance to vent their frustrations and feel heard.

Demonstrate empathy.

There’s a big gap between customer expectations and reality. Salesforce reports that 68% of customers expect brands to demonstrate empathy, only 37% of customers feel brands actually do.

Make sure to use phrases like “I understand,” or try repeating back what your customer said to show you were listening. These types of responses are especially important over the phone when you can’t rely on visual cues like eye contact and head nodding.

Go off-script.

Scripts are great tools to help call center agents solve customer problems, but they can sound stiff and stale. Customers can tell when you’re reading from a script, and it can immediately put a wall up between you.

While it’s helpful to follow the general outline to ensure you don’t miss any important information, inject some of your own personality and mannerisms into it.

Add humor when appropriate, double-back if a customer didn’t give a clear answer, or pull together language from a variety of scenarios.

Customers will appreciate it. (Just make sure it’s within company policy first.)

Avoid transferring calls.

This one’s tough because it relies on so many other determining factors. But customers have come to expect quick resolutions to their problems, especially when choosing to call customer service over other channels.

In fact, Salesforce reports that 83% of consumers expect to solve their complex problems by speaking with one person.

The truth is, customers don’t want to speak with multiple people to solve their problems. It often means they have to repeat themselves (something customers don’t like), and it increases the time they spend on hold.

The best way to limit transfers?

It often comes down to infrastructure—something that is outside of call center agents’ control. This often includes bigger organizational initiatives like:

  • Setting up a knowledge base: Information should be easily accessible. That way, when you don’t know the answer, you can pull it up in the knowledge base instead of transferring the call to someone who does know.
  • Utilizing call center software: There are tons of call center software options that enhance agent and customer experience alike. Some offer options to notify a manager and have them listen to a call to help agents navigate more complex interactions.
  • Having a system to direct calls: If your company has multiple specialized departments, customer service centers should immediately direct calls to the right person. Call centers can accomplish this using an interactive voice response (IVR) system, web chat, or other self-service tools.
  • Training agents thoroughly: A knowledge base and customer service software are great tools, but they can’t replace thorough training. Agents should spend time learning the ins and outs of the business, in addition to customer service tactics.

Prepare to tackle complex issues.

Call centers aren’t the hub for information anymore. Online communications are growing in popularity.

Between easily accessible information and various other communication channels, making a phone call isn’t the go-to reflex for many customers.

According to Zendesk’s 2020 CX Trends report, 40% of customers choose a channel based on the complexity of their issue. That means when customers have a difficult problem, they’re reaching out to the call center.

Their problem is either too difficult to explain in an email, they’ve tried and failed to search for answers themselves, or they had a bad experience with online customer service in the past. Heck, some people just prefer to talk to someone over the phone. (Yes, they still exist!)

So what does that mean for call center agents? You need to be prepared for anything.

In addition to knowing your products and services inside out, consider conflict resolution training to help upset customers.

Keep these steps in mind when you have to deal with an angry customer:

  1. Stay calm: Easier said than done (we know), but you’ll only escalate the problem if you respond aggressively or defensively. Take deep breaths, and try not to take any of it personally.
  2. Validate your customers’ concerns: Tap into that empathy we talked about earlier. Show you’re listening and actually try to understand the core issue. Most of the time, customers just want to know that they’re talking to someone who can actually fix their problem.
  3. Try not to argue: As much as you want to give the customer all the facts, now’s not the time to correct them. If they’re upset, they aren’t thinking rationally. So trying to rationalize with them won’t make a difference.
  4. Take responsibility: Check with your company policy on this one first, but it’s generally a good idea to accept responsibility. Apologize when necessary.
  5. Find the solution: Once you’ve figured out the problem, try to find a solution that works within the bounds of your capabilities and satisfies the customer.

Sometimes it’s walking them through a difficult application setup. Other times it’s offering a replacement product when there’s failed. Ask call center supervisors for guidance on what’s acceptable to offer a customer to keep them coming back.

Measure what matters.

There are all kinds of measurements used to evaluate call center agents. A lot of them have to do with speed. How quickly do you resolve calls? How many calls can you take in a day? How quickly do you answer calls?

As a call center agent, it’s important to know which measurements matter to management. But it doesn’t stop there.

To blow customers away with excellent service, focus on these metrics:

  1. First-call resolution: Like we mentioned before, customers expect even their complex problems to be solved with just one call to customer service. If you focus too much on speed, this number is likely to drop.
  2. Customer satisfaction: Many call centers send a CSAT survey immediately after a customer service interaction. In this case, that survey reflects directly on the call center agent.
  3. Customer effort score: CES measures how easy the interaction was for the customer. Customers are hoping for easy interactions, so do your best to keep things simple. This often translates to not putting them on hold for too long, not transferring them to multiple departments, and providing answers that are easy to understand.

Call center agents are the frontline.

Call centers are still the backbone of the customer service industry. And the most important thing to remember as a call center agent is this: You are your company’s representatives.

Follow company policy, but don’t stop there. Put these best practices to use to deliver stellar customer service experiences.

7 Tips to Increase Customer Survey Response Rates

You’ve learned about the benefits of customer surveys. (Maybe you even read our blog post 3 Key Metrics to Go After in 2022 and took it to heart.) You decided which surveys are right for your company, put together a few different types, and placed them throughout your customer journey…

…And you got crickets.

Without any responses (or too few to be statistically significant), you can’t measure how well your support team is doing, if a new product is resonating with your customers, or if your online cart experience is frustrating your customers.

You need a way to increase your customer survey response rates.

Keep reading to dive into some top strategies.

Why are customer survey response rates important?

Are you secretly asking, why is this even a big deal? We get it. You’re getting responses, so you have some data to work with. But here are a few reasons your response rates need a boost:

  • A small sample size skews your data: Just because a couple of people don’t like your product doesn’t mean the majority of your customers don’t. The larger the sample size you collect, the more accurately it will represent your customers.
  • Your survey may suffer from non-response bias: There could be something in your survey design, tactics, or questions that makes it more likely for a certain type of customer to answer. Maybe only people that buy kitchen utensils respond, or only people who are at home on Tuesdays, resulting in more skewed data. You could inadvertently skew your service to help respondents and leave non-respondents out.
  • The more data you have, the easier it is to draw conclusions: Just a handful of results all over the place won’t do your team any good. It’s easier to identify trends and craft the appropriate action plan.

What is a good customer survey response rate? According to Customer Thermometer, the typical customer survey response rate is 5–30%, and anything over 50% is considered fantastic.

Tip #1: Pick the right survey.

How many customer surveys are out there? The limit does not exist.

You can emulate tons of surveys, but many in e-commerce and other customer-facing industries focus on three vital ones.

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys ask customers, “How satisfied were you with [product/service]?”
  • Customer effort scores (CES) ask customers, “How easy was it to interact with [company]?”
  • Net Promoter Scores® (NPS®) asks, “How likely are you to recommend [business/product/service] to someone you know?”

While they all rely on similar rating systems, each question asks about a different aspect of your business.

You’re not bound to these three, but picking the appropriate customer survey for what you’re trying to measure is important. Not only will you get misleading data, but you’re also less likely to get customer responses.

Tip #2: Send it at the right time.

Don’t ask for a CSAT survey weeks after a customer service interaction. By then, your customer has already forgotten how the conversation went—unless it was really good or really bad.

Which surveys you use will dictate when you should send them. Per the example above, CSAT surveys work best when measuring something specific, like a support interaction or a product purchase. You should typically send these types of surveys within a day or two of whatever you’re measuring. Plus, response rates increase, and responses are more accurate if customers take surveys within 24 hours.

However, Net Promoter Scores are asking more about your customers’ loyalty to your brand. In that case, pick a regular interval to send out NPS surveys. It could be once a quarter or once a year—just make sure you’re giving your team enough time to analyze the results and make improvements in between.

Tip #3: Make it as short as possible.

We know you want to get as much valuable information as you can, but long surveys have much worse completion rates.

What’s the difference between survey completion rates and response rates? Completion rates measure how many people start the survey and finish it and compare it to people who began the survey and didn’t complete it.

Response rates simply measure how many people completed the survey against how many surveys you sent out.

Here are what the equations look like:

  • # of people who completed the survey ÷ total # of people who opened the survey x 100 = Completion rate
  • # of people who completed the survey ÷ total # of people you sent the survey to x 100 = Response rate

Both of these numbers decrease dramatically the more questions you ask. That’s why one to two question surveys like the three above are so successful. They don’t ask too much of customers, and customers can respond quickly.

You can still get the information you need to improve your products and services, just maybe not on that initial survey. Consider testing optional responses for the longer, thought-provoking questions, or ask those who complete the surveys if they’re willing to take a follow-up questionnaire or speak with one of your representatives.

Tip #4: Remove the friction.

Since you’re essentially asking customers for a favor, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to fill out your survey.

A great way to help you increase your customer survey response rates is to put your surveys in immediately accessible places. Think: Within your web chat platform after a customer service interaction.

The best part? Some conversational platforms like Quiq give you rich messaging capabilities to enable customers to answer surveys right within the channel. Customers won’t be scared off by unknown links, making it faster and easier for them to respond.

Tip #5: Send follow-ups.

Just because customers don’t respond right away doesn’t mean they won’t. Your customers are busy, and things slip their minds just like everyone else. The survey can land on the bottom of the to-do list or not make it on there at all. Sending a follow-up is not only a good idea—it’s a best practice.

Sending email follow-ups is standard, but try reaching out through other channels if customers ignore your survey. Things get lost in emails, sent to spam, or deleted.

Instead, consider outbound SMS/text messaging as an alternative. While email open rates are around 20%, text messages have nearly a 100% read rate. And you get the added benefit of rich messaging that allows customers to answer the survey questions right within their text messages.

Remember, you’re asking for a favor. Keep it friendly and keep follow-ups minimal. Sending multiple emails with “or else” messaging won’t get you anywhere.

Tip #6: Try incentives.

Incentives might not be a feasible long-term solution, but they’ve been proven repeatedly to encourage survey participation.

Here are a few incentives you could try:

  • Coupons and discounts
  • Free shipping
  • Monetary incentives
  • Donations to a favorite charity
  • Entry into a sweepstakes
  • Free swag
  • Free samples
  • Exclusive content
  • Rewards points

Keep in mind that small monetary gifts for everyone actually incentivizes responses more than entry into sweepstakes with large cash prizes.

Tip #7: Test everything.

You can learn all the best tips and tricks and still not produce surveys that resonate with your audience. How do you determine what will work? Test everything.

A/B test survey subject lines, find out the best time to send them, how long after a purchase or interaction, and even what type of questions you ask and how you ask them. You can even test which incentives work better: free shipping, a percentage discount, or a dollar discount.

A good way to use testing is to figure out how to talk and engage with your customers. Figure out if they like being called by their first names or just their last name. See if incorporating their purchase into the email copy works. Does “How are you liking that new spatula, Jane?” work better than “Rate your new spatula”? Test and find out!

Bonus Tip: Respond to submitted surveys.

A big reason people don’t respond to surveys? They don’t think it’ll make a difference.

Send automated thank yous immediately after the survey (as the bare minimum). But if you’re going through responses and see bad ones that you can address directly, do so and let your customers know. Alternatively, when they’re really good, let the customer know how appreciative you are of their response and their business.

If you’re really adventurous, you can even work their sentiment and feedback into future engagement messaging. If customers had a problem with an app, let them know that you’ve updated it. If they really liked a product, share when you get new color options.

While it might not immediately increase your survey response rate, customers will appreciate that their voice is being heard.

It takes a grab-bag of tricks to increase customer survey response rates.

If your customer survey response rates are low, try implementing several of these tips. It’s no secret that consumers are reaching survey fatigue, so the more you can do to make it easy, appealing, and beneficial for your customers, the better off you’ll be.

Social Commerce 101: Tips and Tricks

You already know that e-commerce is booming.

But what about social commerce?

For years, businesses have primarily used social media for marketing. Now, selling through social media is not just possible—it’s prospering.

Even if you haven’t heard of it before, your company is likely already engaging in social commerce. It falls under the e-commerce umbrella, but it refers specifically to purchases made on a social media platform. Any time you connect a social media post with a product page and end up with a sale, you’re engaging in social commerce.

Social commerce is gradually becoming its own market entirely. Consumers spend more time on social media, and new tools are released regularly to make it easier to complete transactions without ever leaving the platforms.

How can you capitalize on social commerce? We’re breaking down what it is and how to use it in your e-commerce strategy.

What is social commerce?

As we alluded to above, social commerce is when your customers purchase directly on a social media platform, like Facebook or Instagram. It can also include sales made from a social media click.

Social selling is also wrapped up in social commerce, with slight differences. Social selling is when a salesperson reaches out to a customer to engage in the selling process.

The top four social platforms for selling are:

  1. Instagram
  2. Facebook
  3. TikTok
  4. Pinterest

Why care about social commerce?

Social commerce is a growing segment of the e-commerce market, and you should absolutely claim a slice of the pie.

According to Insider Intelligence, US social commerce sales are expected to reach $45.74 billion in 2022, with more than half of adults making a purchase directly on social media.

And eMarketer predicts it’ll reach nearly $80 billion by 2025. (That’s a big pie.)

There are also a lot of opportunities to improve mobile sales. While mobile traffic contributes to more retail site visits, it doesn’t correlate with retail sales. Cart abandonment is much higher on mobile than on desktop.

Social media commerce helps businesses capture those lost sales.

Many customers already turn to social media to discover new products, check reviews, and ask for advice. Social commerce simply closes the loop by making it easy to buy, too.

Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why social commerce is worth your company’s time:

  • Users don’t have to leave whichever app they’re using to make a sale.
  • Fewer clicks removes the friction of selling online and leads to higher conversions.
  • Consumers are less likely to abandon their carts before completing a purchase.
  • The entire customer journey happens within the platform, improving your customer experience.
  • You can hyper-target your customers with audience tools available on social media platforms.

Tips for capitalizing on social commerce

Social commerce is already happening all around the world. Put together a strategy now to jump on the growing trend.

Start small with a strategic plan of action.

You’re probably already engaging in social commerce, but there are different things to consider when making it part of your e-commerce strategy. The biggest takeaway? Start small.

  • Pick your social platforms: Even if your brand is active across multiple social media channels, start your social selling strategy on just one or two. Not all platforms are great for selling, and you likely have different audiences across each.
  • Don’t make it a second store-front: While smaller businesses might be tempted to use Facebook Shops to open their store, larger retailers should hold off on sharing their entire product catalog. Social commerce is primarily driven by small purchases, and offering too many options to your customers can easily lead to confusion and indecision. Start with carefully selected products and add as you go.
  • Offer platform exclusives: An easy way to drum up excitement for social commerce products is to make them exclusive to a platform. This can help launch your social commerce strategy while you’re getting started. It’s also an easy way to test your campaigns on different platforms to see what sells.

Lean into social media marketing tactics.

There have been tons of blog posts dedicated to social media marketing, so we won’t dive too deep into it here. But there are a few important tactics to keep in mind while driving sales.

  • Engage with your audience: The best thing about social media? It’s social. A great strategy doesn’t just include passive posts. Make sure your team actively asks and answers questions, engages with audiences’ posts, and collects user-generated content. When switching to a commerce strategy, it’s easy to overwhelm audiences with sales messaging. Keeping it social and engaging will keep you from alienating your followers.
  • Use influencer marketing: Influencer culture gets a lot of flack, but it’s a proven method for encouraging your audience to engage and purchase from your brand. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations. Whether you target micro-influencers or the big fish, it’s important to find the right balance between social and selling.
  • Test paid advertising: There’s no denying that many social media platforms have turned into pay-to-play channels. Facebook and Instagram especially offer a wide range of ad options that can draw a clear line between advertising and sales. This makes it easy to test out what messages work for your customers and what kind of products work best for in-app sales.

Tap into your customer service team.

It’s likely that you’re already leveraging your customer service team to help answer customer questions on social media. They’re also a great resource to help drive your social commerce efforts.

  • Train your customer service team to convert. Consumers (especially Millennials and Gen Z) prefer the casual nature of social media over retail websites and traditional communication channels. So your customer service team should take a different approach to chatting and selling to customers on social media. Create social media best practices, so your team hits the right conversational notes and genuinely connects with your customers.
  • Sell in the DMs: When customers reach out for specs, sizing recommendations, and the like, empower your customer service team to complete the sale right within the messaging platform.

See how Quiq integrates messaging payment solutions so your team can securely make a sale without the customer ever leaving the app >

  • Personalize the shopping experience: Selling in the DMs or through other social methods allows your team to connect personally with your customers. Be friendly, use your customers’ names, and offer personalized recommendations.
  • Test and collect feedback: Your customer service team is already primed for collecting customer feedback, and social media is a great place to get quick insights in real-time. See which products will sell on social platforms, what type of messages work, and which purchasing methods your customers are most comfortable using.

Convenience is key.

Convenience is the main driver of social commerce’s success. Customers are able to discover, research, and purchase products without ever leaving their preferred social media app. Make purchasing from your company as easy as possible.

  • Provide multiple options to make a purchase: Social media platforms provide a variety of ways for you to capitalize on sales. Facebook and Instagram have shoppable posts, there’s Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Shops, many “link in bio” platforms, and or sell directly in the DMs.
  • Use AI chatbots for quick responses: When your customer service team isn’t readily available, your friendly chatbot is there to help. Answer customer questions quickly, so they’re less likely to second-guess their purchases and abandon their carts.

Quiq’s customer service chatbots will help you connect with your customers when you can’t. See what they can do >

Optimize for mobile: Since most social commerce will happen on mobile, ensure your checkout and website experience is mobile-friendly. You want to avoid any kind of inconvenience during the purchase process or risk losing the sale altogether.

Don’t sleep on social commerce

While this term is relatively new, there’s no denying that social commerce is here in a big way. Developing a strategy to capitalize on this new form of selling can give your e-commerce business the edge. Plus, you’ll be able to capture the interest of younger generations as they increase their buying power over the next few years.

Now’s the time to jump on this revenue-boosting opportunity.