New website? 5 reasons to start with customer feedback right away


In this rapidly changing digital world, a company website functions as a calling card and is often the primary channel for customer relations. As a digital marketeer, you are constantly coming up with new ways to satisfy your online customers. After a few years, your website may no longer meet requirements and you will need to develop a new website. What role can feedback play in this respect?


In my discussions with organisations, I often hear that whole marketing teams are sometimes non-communicado because they are developing new sites. I may be exaggerating a bit, but marketeers usually don’t develop many new initiatives during such a period. Setting up a new website can be a very demanding task.

Surprisingly, marketeers do not always consider collecting and analysing customer feedback an integral part of launching a new site, whereas they do often use quantitative user data such as web statistics.

It seems to me a missed opportunity not to enable customer feedback on a new website, for the following five reasons:

1. The new site must be an improvement

If you’re going to launch a new website, you want to know what factors you need to take into account and which parts you should replace. User-friendliness is of course essential, but it may also be practical to know the reasons why customers visit your website (visitor purpose). In other words, what your visitors want to achieve online.

Quantity versus quality
You’re not developing a new website for no reason. At any rate, you want the new site to be better than the old one. Of course, you need to monitor the results quantitatively (e.g. lower bounce rates, higher conversions, etc.). Web statistics don’t tell you all you need to know. You can analyse the behaviour of visitors, but that doesn’t show their motivations.

That’s why you also need to measure and monitor the old and new situation qualitatively. What’s the difference in user experience? What do your customers think of your new site? It’s quite a risk to develop a new website on the basis of your ‘gut feeling’ or just because you think a new site will be more attractive.

Start already on your old site
Your old website is a good starting point for gathering useful information, so that you will know what you should focus on when developing a new one.

It’s therefore crucial to learn what your customers think of your old website in general, and specific pages and parts in particular. To this end, you need to consult the users of your website. How do you find out what you should focus on when developing a new website? By comparing the old and new designs, it will be easier for you to create optimum user experience and ensure that the new site will indeed be an improvement.

2. Feedback does not have to be a megaproject

You can use the insights you gain through qualitative research (feedback) on your old site in the development plan for your new website. The development phase is usually followed by a test and acceptance phase before the site goes live. Once the website has gone live, you will probably still need to make some modifications to get rid of a few bugs and improve certain aspects.

To avoid the feedback gathering process becoming a project in itself, you need to clearly delimit the places where you gather feedback. For example, by only asking feedback about specific aspects and at different stages.

Test phase
If you have developed new or modified functionalities, it’s essential to involve the customer at an early stage in the test phase. You can work with professional test teams to make sure everything is correctly delivered in accordance with the functional design, but ultimately it’s the customer you have to convince.

Once a new functionality has been developed, I also involve the customers at an early stage in the test phase.

To this end, you can organise small sessions at specific points in time. Perhaps the organisation has a customer or consumer panel that you can use. In this way you can make many improvements at an early stage and avoid having to make drastic changes at a later stage.

Launch
Of course, when you’re ready to launch, you hope you’ve created an absolutely perfect website. However, especially in large-scale projects, bugs and ambiguities in user experience are inevitable. Here too, you can choose to start with gathering feedback on specific aspects and establish priorities. In this way you and the organisation will have a clear picture of what you should focus on and what aspects still need to be improved.

3. Feedback saves time and effort

Think outside your team and your own role within the company. The organisation should meet the needs of the customer and not the other way round. When you start collecting feedback, you may be worried that the website visitor or customer will expect you to come up with immediate solutions. Unfortunately, not all organisations have the requisite manpower to do so.

Identifying problems on the website in time will reduce the workload for other departments (e.g. the contact centre). You want to avoid that every visitor starts calling you when something goes wrong.

Managing customer expectations is essential in this respect.

Don’t let customer expectations deter you from initiating feedback.

Categorise the feedback
Clearly indicate that you can’t follow up on each individual feedback item but that the organisation places high value on feedback. And show that you are doing something with the feedback and – if possible – before which date. It may help to introduce appropriate categories in the feedback form, such as suggestions, bugs, missing information or compliments. In this way you quickly know whether certain feedback items are real show-stoppers or just ‘nice to have’.

Knowing which issues you should focus on will enable you to set the right priorities and will ultimately help the whole organisation to save valuable time.

4. A method for quickly and easily gaining insight

If you use appropriate feedback report and dashboard design, it will be quite easy for you to quickly gain insight from your feedback. Your website will attract hundreds to thousands of visitors each day. If you ask those visitors well-timed, relevant questions, you will get very useful answers.

All the issues experienced by customers on your old or new website will have to be analysed. Going through all comments one by one is simply not feasible. Fortunately, there are intelligent tools that can do the job for you. This allows you to quickly see which pages contain the most (negative) feedback, and you won’t have to spend your valuable time on working through a load of Excel sheets.

Using real-time feedback and analysis reports, you know exactly what’s going on and what you need to improve on your new website.

5. Retain dissatisfied customers

If you don’t start gathering feedback on your new website straight away, you miss the opportunity to quickly identify and retain dissatisfied customers.

Once you’ve learned what bothers your visitors, you know what you need to improve on your website. If a large group of visitors experiences the same problem, you will also have a chance to transform a negative experience into something positive by responding quickly and actively.

If you also give visitors the opportunity to submit their contact details, you will have the opportunity to turn visitors who, for example, discontinue the ordering process into satisfied customers after all. You can also choose to have a specific process in place, involving sales agents or the contact centre.

Here, too, you can introduce phases, for example, by first providing a contact option in a major sales funnel. This will enable to quickly gain learnings. And if you obtain good results, you can roll out the process to other parts of the website.

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