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8 Ways to Get More Meaningful Feedback from Ecommerce Subscribers

Want insightful feedback? Jamie Levy at Shopify Plus encourages creating strong connections with subscribers. Learn how.
July 5, 2022

One key ingredient to any successful customer experience strategy is understanding your customers.

Your brand can talk all day about how much you care about the buyer or how customer-centric you are. You can put it on your website and in your mission statement, but you’ll only really know if you're succeeding when you hear what your customers genuinely think about you.

We all know the struggle of getting that kind of feedback, especially if you’ve tried sending surveys and questionnaires only to get nothing in return. Is it possible to foster any real engagement with customers?

Jamie Levy's job revolves around answering this question. As the Head of Engagement for Shopify Plus, Jamie's favorite approach is selfless service. She focuses on diving deep with customers and getting more meaningful insights from them. She shared some of those insights with us on a recent episode of Subscription Ecommerce Live.

We've taken some of the highlights of her comments and included them below to help your brand create customer connections that lead to growth. By the end, you’ll have 8 actionable steps you and your team can take to get more meaningful feedback from your subscribers. 

Humanize Your Brand

How customers look at your brand sets the tone of the relationship.

If you constantly speak to them like a corporation, they'll treat you like one. That means they won't offer you much in terms of actual engagement.

Successful brands are transparent and honest. They actually feel like human beings to the customer, making it easier for them to engage.

Jamie saw this firsthand when she came across the edible cookie brand Doughp. When the marketing lead left the small company, the founder had to figure out how to do her own Facebook ads with little knowledge.

Her solution? Be honest about it.

Successful brands are transparent and honest. They actually feel like human beings to the customer, making it easier for them to engage.

She posted a screenshot of text that basically said "Hey, I don't know how to do this but buy our cookie dough. It's on sale. You won't regret it."

The honesty stood out to Jamie. "That's how I would talk if I were in her position," she says. "I don't feel like that's coming from a brand; I feel like that's coming from a person."

Customers will give you more valuable feedback if you remind them that you're human. No one wants to talk to a corporation.

Create Opportunities for Actual Conversations

If you want to receive real feedback, you have to create a space for customers to give it to you. Surveys and short responses are great, but they usually only provide you with generalities.

Our friend Kristen LaFrance talks about this on another episode of Subscription Ecommerce Live, saying "one hour with a customer will tell you more than 10 survey emails ever will."

Oh, and bonus tip: This will affect your support and marketing, too.

Content creators will have someone to picture when they write blogs, make a social media post, or respond to a help ticket. You've taken the time to listen to them, so you'll know what will resonate (and what won't!).

These kinds of things only happen when the company prioritizes the research. You've got to create a habit of ongoing communications, directly with your customer base.

Don't Undervalue Connections

Customers respond to what they've connected with, and not every customer connection point will lead to an immediate sale. That's okay. In fact, Jamie says that creating that feeling of connection often goes further for the customer and the company.

"The feeling of connection is the most important," she says, noting the amplification of this importance after the craziness that was 2020-2021. Customers want to connect with brands with a real, human mission. They rally behind founders with powerful stories.

But that doesn't mean they always buy the products right away.

Organizations should still value and prioritize these connections because it helps them establish long-term relationships and make it easier to hear from their customers.

Create a Space for Customers to Engage with One Another

The word community gets thrown around quite a bit in the subscription ecommerce market. Jamie even calls it a buzzword.

She feels It means too many things to too many people. So instead of using “community” as her focus, she constantly looks for opportunities where people can connect without any obligation.

This connection between customers happens when the focus gets taken off the brand. It becomes a facilitator for people who like similar things to come together, and those people run the community with each other.

Jamie uses social media as an example. Top brands will post on apps like Instagram, but they’ll let the customers take over in the comments, opening up an opportunity for real people to organically connect with one another. That's what community really means.

On a smaller scale, brands can create more niche cohorts where customers can engage with one another and the brand. These cohorts help build trust within the group more quickly and often lead to better insights from a more diverse group of people since you can see what customers are really thinking.

Stop Trying to Directly Tie Relationship Building to Revenue

Jamie says that trying to build a lasting connection with customers can be hard to measure in terms of ROI.

Brands that want to get insight from their customers will have to change their thinking about what kinds of returns they're getting.

You don't always get a quick sale or profit increase when you have conversations. But you will build ongoing relationships with customers that actually talk to you about what they feel. The trick is realizing that these returns have value in and of themselves because they grow brand affinity.

Accept That Some Customers Don't Want to Engage

Jamie's been in the ecommerce game long enough to know that some customers simply don't want to engage with any brand. They want to get their products, and then they want to go on their merry way.

But that doesn't mean you have to stop caring for them.

She tells a story of an Australian-based subscription toilet paper brand called "Who Gives a Crap." The brand's personality is clear and present in everything they do. They make jokes with their packaging; they get creative with the design. They still feel human, even though they don't necessarily build a community.

Having such a personal feel behind the brand can make it easier to hear back from some of those folks who generally avoid deeper engagement.

Think Beyond Discounts

Offering a discount has become the go-to move for brands to get something from their customers. You want feedback? Give the customer a deal on a product.

That kind of transactional mindset doesn't lead to meaningful feedback, though. You might get someone to answer some questions, but they only care about the discount.

At its core, a discount is about generosity, and Jamie claims that brands have a better opportunity to showcase their generosity in a way that builds connections and leads to more meaningful feedback. She mentioned things like:

  • Offering a “first look” for a new product
  • Adding extra items to an order
  • Inviting customers to participate in an activity or event that develops the relationship
  • Going above and beyond in a way that causes customers to want to tell the story to others

Creating a feeling matters so much more than saving 20%. "No one remembers a discount," Jamie says. They will remember stories and experiences, though. Those help build relationships and get better information from your customer.

Ask Customers Specific Questions to Give Them a Voice in Brand Decisions

Inviting customers into brand decisions is a great way to build trust and further develop the relationship.

For that to happen, you develop specific questions that give them ways to get involved.

  • Invite customer feedback on new products
  • Ask them what kind of rewards they'd like to see in a loyalty program
  • Get their thoughts on marketing material or design elements
  • Let them choose a charity to donate to during events like Giving Tuesday

Having that level of specificity allows you to hear directly from your subscribers on these issues and could lead to an increase in meaningful feedback. Customers will also appreciate that they were part of your decision, which might give them the confidence and comfort to engage more often. They'll see that their ideas and opinions do matter to the brand.

Let Community Be What It Becomes

You can't force customers to give you meaningful feedback. You have to create an environment where they feel safe enough to engage honestly with your brand.

The more you try to keep a tight grip on your customer community, the less genuine it will feel. Let your customers lead and watch how it unfolds.

Your job is to create those opportunities for engagement, not to demand it be something specific. Help your customers see your brand as a person and treat them like humans, too. Then you'll get real, human feedback.

You can't force customers to give you meaningful feedback. You have to create an environment where they feel safe enough to engage honestly with your brand.

Jamie had a ton of other great tips for connecting with customers and soliciting feedback throughout the rest of the episode. Tune in to the whole conversation if you’re looking for some more actionable inspiration. 

And, if you’re looking to go even further with your subscriber relationships, try optimizing your upcoming charge notifications with ARPU. These messages build trust with your customers because of the transparency around charges. Plus, our customers can use their 60% open rates  to ask for feedback and foster those connections with subscribers, leading to better experiences, higher AOV, and less churn. 

Your customers have thoughts about what they want from your brand. The only way to reap the benefits is to provide opportunities for them to share their ideas and then prove that you actually want to listen.

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