6 Ways to Engage Your Customers via Their Receipts

Guest Author

email receipts

About a month ago we announced the latest addition to our receipts: Feedback.

At the time, we said that Feedback was designed to leverage the engagement opportunity that email receipts presents. To be brutally honest though, this was based purely on our theoretical assumptions and we had no idea how our merchants and their customers would use this.

So I spent some time this past week to sift through our data to get an idea of how Ecommerce stores are engaging their customers via their receipts (and vice-versa). You’d think that this was an easy task, but since our internal tools are not as slick as our customer-facing product, our engineers held my hand which enabled me to (manually!) work through thousands of database entries.

Suffice to say, the learning has been fantastic and I wanted to share a few examples with you.

Note: All of the data has been anonymized to protect the identity of our merchants and their customers.

1. Immediate Positive Feedback

email receipts feedback

We ask customers one, simple question via the receipts: “How was your experience shopping with us?”

What we’ve seen is the vast majority of feedback has been positive. The ratio of a good versus bad rating has been 15:1.

Where customers have qualified their positive ratings, they have said things like:

“Everything went great!”

“Great communication. Loved having tracking information.”

“I love shopping with you all. I have never had a bad experience. Your website is easy to navigate therefore easy for me to spend $!”

“I like this shopping experience!”

As you can see, the qualified feedback has a feel-good nature and tone, whilst addressing the shopping experience directly. Even though this feedback doesn’t necessarily necessitate any action, it serves to validate that the merchant is doing well.

That said, the merchant could also respond immediately and try cross-sell or reward the customer (who has shown loyalty and engagement).

2. Post-Purchase Feedback & Testimonials

feedback email receipts

The second example I’d like to show you was an unexpected discovery for me, but a very pleasant one at that. 🙂

What we saw with these interactions was that customers actually went back to their receipt days and weeks after the purchase to rate their experience and give the store feedback. This was interesting, because they could’ve done the same thing by just sending the store an e-mail, but instead they elected to re-visit the initial invitation for feedback via their receipt.

Here’s a couple of examples:

“I had an extremely positive experience with [Store Name Redacted]. They delivered on time and the socks were of an exceptional quality! Thank you!”

“Very quick, awesome company that never ceases to amaze me and constantly make me proud of where I’m spending my money! Thanks Bro’s!“

“You guys are so GREAT! I am in love with your service! I can’t believe how quickly you shipped my order after it was placed, it was lightning fast! The quality of your photo magnets is incomparable! I bought some for my friend as a birthday gift and she was in love! Thanks for being so awesome and filling my fridge with wonderful looking memories, I’m hooked!! Kindly, [Customer Name Redacted].”

“Excellent customer service, replied to enquires in the space of half an hour! Very high quality products and came beautifully presented in their own separate boxes with tissue paper. Could not be happier!”

The added benefit of these are that they can be used as-is for customer testimonials on your website. Copy+paste and Bob’s your uncle.

3. An Opportunity Presents Itself

Now this is the type of interaction that makes me super-excited about what we’re building at CM Commerce and the things we’ve learnt in a short space of time.

In the next example, I’d like to show you how using a simple interaction (facilitated by their receipts) lead to another purchase.

This is the qualified feedback left by the customer:

“I liked the design for the [Product Name Redacted] a lot. Was curious if you guys did more like that or could do more like with a [Product Name Redacted] or [Product Name Redacted] instead of just [Product Name Redacted]. If you can could I get another email about it? Overall though neat stuff!”

And here’s how the store owner maximized that opportunity:

“Hey [Customer Name Redacted]. Thanks for the feedback! Based on your request we did go ahead and make an [Product Name Redacted] design you can see here: [URL Redacted].
I wanted to offer you 10% off this design as a thanks for being one of our loyal customers. You can use code “DROP10” to activate it at checkout.“

Boom. Done. Another sale in the bank.

Then there are other opportunities that are perhaps more nuanced:

“Look forward to receiving the product! My only comment so far though is the shipping seems expensive at $10 on one $18 product, especially since it’s only going from CO to CA? Is it expedited shipping with tracking and that’s why? Thanks!”

If I were the store owner, I’d most certainly respond with a partial refund (as an effective discount) on that shipping and say “You know what; our shipping is unfortunately expensive and we’re working on ways to bring the cost down. I’ve discounted your shipping cost now and hopefully by the time you make your next purchase, we’ll be ready for you.”.

Maybe I’ve just drank too much of Zappos’ “Delivering Happiness” Kool-Aid, but I bet that such a response leverages that opportunity and makes a customer for life.

4. Constructive Criticism

As the flipside to the immediate positive feedback we mentioned in #1, we’ve also seen customers responding with some constructive feedback about their shopping experience:

“Good experience with the first online store of [Store Name Redacted]. Two suggestions to improve… If a product is not available it should be labelled out of stock. Products like rice should be made available in packages of 5kg & 10kg, because now a days families are smaller and consumption of rice is also low. Ready to eat food may also be added.”

“Trying to order more then one item from your Email Specials / Sale items is a problem. Return to the email for next item cancels the first item. Part / Catalog numbers for each item would make ordering easier.”

Sometimes the solution or improvement is something that will take time to implement (like the first feedback above), whereas others can help you solve an urgent pain (i.e. you are running a flash sale of some kind and some of your website functionality is borked).

Either way though, this is constructive qualified feedback from an otherwise happy customer.

5. Complaints & Immediate Action Required

In a similar vein to #2 above, what we found with this category of qualified feedback, is that customers again elected to go back to their receipts to communicate with the store (instead of using another channel).

Here’s a couple of examples:

“Ordered 3/1/15. Order was to to printed and shipped within 48 hrs. Still have not received a shipping confirmation 2 weeks later (3/15/15).”

“Takes forever to get your stuff. I’ve been waiting for 3 weeks and don’t even have any tracking/shipping information. When I email no one emails back either. Site is a joke.”

“I would like to know where the orders at?”

Whilst all of these examples deal with shipping-related mistakes or problems, we also saw issues with the delivery of the incorrect product.

These interactions are a cry for help and the only reason why customers would submit such feedback, is because they are seeking a resolution. In some instances, the damage (to the customer relationship) might be irreparable, but some of these are situations that can be rescued (and where relationships can be recovered).

6. I love your receipts!

We can’t call ourselves marketers building a marketing product without doing a bit of self-promotion. 🙂

Seriously though; we were pleasantly surprised to find that some customers only replied to the Feedback module to compliment the actual receipt. That might be quite meta, but it’s great to see regardless:

“Awesome new receipt system!”

“I like the new email, it’s cool idea. :)”

“I like this new interface oh and can I have an elephant? Lol Jk but hit me up with a potato autographed by you guys thanks and yolo. Haha i’m so silly and fabulous”

Yes – that last one is authentic, unedited feedback left by a customer. I can also verify that this happened on an actual order where actual money exchanged hands… 🙂

How can you use your receipts to spark conversations with your customers?

Having looked at thousands of these interactions, there’s a couple of thoughs and best practices that I’d like to suggest:

  1. Invite your customers to give you feedback. Whilst only a small percentage of customers may respond; those responses are better than no responses.
  2. Interactions builds relationships. Whether the actual feedback is good or bad isn’t what matters most (even though we obviously strive to get good feedback). What matters is that every time a customer engages with you, you have the opportunity to make a good impression and nurture a relationship.
  3. Your e-mail receipts are a publishing medium with a captive audience. If our data shows anything, it’s that customers are engaging with store owners via in-receipt upsells and other invitations to interact. Don’t miss that opportunity.
  4. The conversation is always two-sided. Even though some interactions don’t explicitly require a response or action, it’s best practice to always at least acknowledge the feedback. This is not about soliciting feedback as much as it’s about starting a conversation in which you participate.

Do you want to learn more? Here’s the right ebook for you – free of charge: