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The CX LabNotes blog has long been a proponent of the power of customer-initiated engagement – that is providing your customers with the opportunity to talk to you on their terms whenever, wherever and however they want.

Empowered customers – after all – are the key to improved CX. As OpinionLab co-founder Rand Nickerson said on this very blog back in March: “If you look at the truly successful companies, the ones that emerge are the ones that concentrate on enabling their customers to engage with them – so they can partner with them to build their brand.”

His perspective is backed by a number of experts in the field. A recent Forrester report implores CMOs to “thrive in the age of the customer by understanding how your customers are evolving and prioritizing changes to match”. An article from Forbes argues “there’s no doubt we’ve arrived at the moment the “empowered consumer” takes control”.

None of this is new news but it does reaffirm the environment you are now competing in.

But how do you empower customers in a way that enables you to take action on what they think and have a discernible impact on your business?

The first step to creating positive customer experiences and journeys is collecting customer-initiated feedback on every page of your website and across all digital touchpoints.

This sounds pretty straightforward, but the real key to success is how you solicit this feedback. As someone who studies this topic daily, I can say with authority that the solicitation method you choose has a big impact on the number, sentiment and quality of feedback you collect.

Sounds pretty obvious, right? But it’s amazing how often this is overlooked by customer experience teams operating across the full gamut of industries.

Typically, companies I work with all agree that a short unobtrusive comment card which only opens at the customer’s request is the best route to actionable feedback. Where we see differences in approaches is how they get to this point – in other words, the location of the link your customers have to click to open the comment card, the vehicle for them to share their opinions with you.

 The two most common approaches we see is:

  1. the positioning of a tab at the right and middle of a browser window or app
  2. a link in the header or footer of a page.

Both these options are highlighted in the image below, taken from the OpinionLab homepage:

Our research shows that the more visible the solicitation link, the more likely you are to attract customers who want to engage you about both the positive and negative experiences they have with your brand. Companies which use the right tab method hear suggestions to improve, praise for good experiences, as well as complaints about poor experiences.  Moreover, they see a variety of feedback—from store, to site, to product, to shipping and delivery – allowing them to gain insight into and better understand their customers’ experiences across all their channels.

In contrast, a link in the header and/or footer of web page (or inline link), typically collects more negative VoC feedback that tends to be less actionable. And that’s not surprising. Imagine you’re unhappy about your experience on a website and you feel inclined to leave feedback for the company concerned. Then it takes you ages to actually find how to do this. That’s only going to make you more frustrated. 

Similarly, customers that have valuable nuggets of wisdom to share may simply give up.  Think about all of the missed opportunities to connect with your most valuable customers: although the engagement will need to be on their terms, you need to make it easy for them. If you really think an inline link is the ideal approach for you, you should consider also including both a header and footer link to increase visibility.

By comparison, a highly visible tab on your website with a clear call to action will enable you to gain comprehensive VoC insight. What do your customers like about your digital experience? What don’t they like? How could you be better?

Provide your customers with the opportunity to tell you whatever is on their mind, take action on what they say and – in doing so – ensure you get the most out of your VoC investment by consistently improving your CX.

The OpinionLab Insights team advises OpinionLab customers on how to take action on their VoC to improve customer experience.

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