Conversion Heroes is a series of 5-question interviews with experts in the field of conversion. Subjects for discussion include landing pages, copywriting, conversion optimization, social media conversion, email marketing, organic SEO for landing pages and A/B & multivariate testing.
Cindy Alvarez does product management and customer development for KISSmetrics and KISSinsights.
She’s spent her career helping startups be better through focus on customers and user experience.
Oli: Can you kick things off with an overview of how KISSinsights is positioned to interact with people at the point of sale/conversion?
Cindy: People are at their most honest right at the moment when something happens — good or bad. But most of them won’t take their time and effort to immediately fire off an email telling you what happened and why it mattered.
That’s why KISSinsights is so powerful – it allows you to ask a relevant question at just the right moment. If you’re not sure why people are abandoning your their shopping cart, you can specifically target people who are on the cart page for more than 20 seconds and ask them a question like “What additional information do you need to complete your purchase?” If they were hoping for better product screenshots or confused by your shipping costs, they’ll tell you so, right then and there.
Oli: How does this type of customer interaction benefit conversion?
Cindy: For the site owners, you’re finally getting the why — why aren’t customers buying? why aren’t they using this feature? — and that’s huge, when you know why something isn’t working, you can fix it a lot more quickly than having to run a ton of experiments.
For their customers, this is a powerful sign that this company cares. Anyone can add a contact email or add a feedback tab to their website, but that still puts the burden on the customer to click on it, think about what they want to say, spend time writing… Being asked a short, specific question says “I value your feedback, and I respect your time.”
Oli: What are the most valuable types of information you can learn from people?
…Those are just a few of the real insights that our customers have had, where they’ve literally been able to make changes based on KISSinsights feedback and improved their businesses.
Oli: Have you developed, or can you recommend, a process for taking the feedback and cycling it back to make product improvements?
Cindy: Sometimes the feedback has a small, simple solution — the in-app copy is unclear, or we could make a piece of frequently-used information more prominent — and in those cases we usually just do it.
When it’s less clear, or a bigger effort, I use those responses to guide a little more customer development. I follow up with the individual responders to ask more questions and make sure I really understand the problem they’re posing. I might also call another five customers and ask them some open-ended questions, until I feel like we have a very clear problem statement.
Then internally I’ll pose that for discussion – here’s a problem our customers are having – what are options for solving it? The discussion helps us to balance speed, quality, and measureability: there’s often a seemingly perfect solution that would take a week to implement or be impossible to measure, and so we’ll pick something that’s faster where we can see the impact of our changes.
Then I try to follow up with the survey respondents to let them know the problem was fixed. I don’t always get to, but I think that being able to do that close-the-loop communication is what makes customers feel valued, and then they’re more likely to keep letting you know when things aren’t quite right.
Oli: Do you have any criteria that helps you determine when feedback is more than just someone venting and when it crosses over into the realm of a real problem needing to be fixed?
Cindy: I’m sure it varies based on scale, but for us internally it’s often that one person is an outlier, two people means keep your ears open, and three people means “fix it now before I hear from a fourth”.
The other criteria, I guess, is that vent-ers don’t write back. Someone who is a potential valued customer will almost always write back, even if it’s just to complain some more (which is useful!); someone who was just having a bad day, or is just a jerk, won’t.
Oli: What questions have you found to be the most effective at eliciting a response from people?
Cindy: These get really high response rates — the first 3 are ‘irritation’ questions and the next 2 are questions that happy customers answer:
Oli: Do you have any stats to illustrate what effect that feedback mechanisms like KISSinsights has on conversion rates?
Cindy: One internal example is our support for non-English languages. That was a demand we discovered by using KISSinsights on KISSinsights, and were able to quickly address, and now about 7-8% of our revenues come from European and Latin American customers using surveys in other languages.
Oli: Interruption tactics could be seen as a blessing or a curse depending on the state of mind of the visitor. What effect does this have on the brand experience and conversion and how much do you think it matters?
Cindy: There’s a huge difference between invitation and interruption.
When you’re in a restaurant and the waiter appears just as your water glass reaches 3/4 empty, that’s good service; if he’s there slopping water into your glass while you’re still trying to slide into the booth, that’s annoying.
We’ve optimized the triggers on our pre-written surveys so that they aren’t appearing too quickly or too often. We’ve been working with our paid customers to help them pick the best trigger conditions and the best pages for their questions so they appear as more of an invitation. We’ll be building more of that guidance into the product to keep the experience a positive one.
Oli: Asking your visitors for feedback will inevitably result in some negative responses. What’s a good way to embrace this?
Cindy: You should say:
Thank you for your response!
We’re sorry that we weren’t able to give you a good experience. I want to make sure I understand your frustration — was [description] the problem? How can we make it better?
and it shouldn’t be a canned response. Take a minute to write back — clearly that customer spent enough of their time on your site to build up that frustration — and use this as an opportunity to learn more and potentially turn a complainer into a fan.
Oli: On a lighter note, do you have any stories of interesting or funny feedback you or your customers have received that you could share?
Cindy: “Can KISSinsights fold my laundry?”
Sadly, no. As awesome as KISSinsights is, it cannot fold your laundry. I’ve tried. It won’t convince my daughter to take a nap or take out the recycling, either. But you should still use it to make your website better.
Thanks to Cindy for being our latest Conversion Hero and sharing her knowledge with the Unbounce blog readers.
Part 1: Roberta Rosenberg on Copywriting for Landing Pages
Part 2: Dan Martell on Social Media Conversion
Part 3: Paras Chopra on Split Testing
Part 4: John Hossack on PPC
Part 5: Chris Goward on Conversion Rate Optimization
Part 6: Cindy Alvarez on Point-of-Conversion Feedback
Part 7: Tim Ash on Landing Page Optimization