The Art of the Ask

Ask not, what your customers can do you for you. Ask what you can do for your customers…

Companies ask a lot of their customers these days.

Do you receive a lot of email requests to provide feedback, a review or a rating? Most people do, but very few respond to these requests.

Why don’t more people respond? There are many reasons – too many requests, they can’t be bothered, they don’t see how it benefits them, etc. 

When we want customers to give feedback, a review or a rating, we’re facing an uphill battle, but please…

Resist The Urge to Ask Customers To Do Stuff That Only Benefits You

Here’s a recent example. As a Google AdWords customer, they’d asked me to spend 10 minutes filling in their questionnaire.

Please provide your feedback on Google AdWords

Google – call us. Copy Dojo can help you with your sales copy…

And this wasn’t the first message Google sent (there were three others).

In their copy, they indicated it was my last chance to respond. It was my last chance to spend 10 minutes of my day helping them.

Could They’ve Approached This Differently?

Absolutely. The entire tone of the message could have been focused on ‘how could we make Google AdWords better for you?’, and less on the survey taking aspect.

As a potential respondent, I don’t get excited about surveys (who does?). But if they’d asked me how they could make Google AdWords easier to use (for me), and how they could make it more effective for reaching new prospects (for me), I’d likely have responded.

Apathy is Rampant

This is the challenge we face as marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners. Our prospects are inundated with messages, and we need to treat their attention as valuable (because it is).

If we want a customer to share their (valuable) time with us, we need to be obsessive about delighting them, and focusing on what’s in it for them.

Which leads me to the next example, for a request to write a review…    

How Can You Get Customers to Leave You a Review?

In short, you can’t. You can encourage them, though, by trying to leverage some principles of reciprocity.

In Robert Cialdini’s seminal book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he examined how people are more likely to reciprocate if they’ve received something from someone first.

So how could this be used to encourage a customer to leave a review? Let’s take a closer look…

After a purchase, I received the following automated email:

Tell us what you think

Tell you what I think? How about giving customers a reason to leave a review?

The purchase was for cat food – I was hard pressed to think of feedback, so I didn’t respond.  

But one approach they could’ve taken was to leverage reciprocity. Something along the lines of “do reviews and ratings from others influence your purchase decisions? If so, it’d be great to get your input as well. Your input could help someone, just as the reviews from others have helped you.” The idea is to make it more about people helping people, rather than a large, faceless “community”.

Reciprocity is just one idea to get more people to leave a review. Another very simple thing they could’ve done is prompt the purchaser with some questions. How did your pet like the product? Did they give it two paws up? (Sorry, I know that was bad – I couldn’t help myself).

If we want good feedback, we have to be specific about the feedback we’re looking for. Ask specific questions and make it easy for the customer to respond.

Final Thoughts

Asking for feedback is a great thing to do, but we can’t assume people will do it because we’ve asked. We need to think about what’s in it for them, and what might motivate them to want to give their feedback.

If we put the customer at the fore of our minds – what they want, what they care about, what will motivate them – we can’t go wrong. Great sales copy, and great service, always focuses on the customer.

About The Author

Eric Moeller

Eric Moeller is the Managing Director of Copy Dojo, an agency which helps startups improve their sales copywriting to rapidly grow their business. He has two decades of experience in high tech marketing and product management. Eric has an MBA in marketing, and completed Seth Godin's altMBA in the summer of 2015.

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