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How to apply the ask, listen, and act framework to gain rapid insight into the purchasing funnel and improve sales.

Smiling woman next to 4 star rating

Today’s shoppers demand frictionless buying journeys, whether in-store or online. Yet for many businesses, the path to online conversion remains a mystery. This is particularly true at the end of the customer journey, at the purchase stage.  

You could say that the purchase stage is a black hole to most customer experience (CX) pros: 50% say they lack insights at this stage of the customer journey, according to our own research.  

With revenue on the line, seamless online purchasing drives results—shoppers are less likely to abandon their carts when checkout is effortless. To boost sales, CX pros must plug real-time customer feedback into the purchase funnel. These insights allow teams to swiftly diagnose pain points, smooth friction, and optimize the most essential touchpoints fueling growth.

This guide outlines a proven ask, listen, act framework for gathering in-the-moment purchasing feedback across the customer journey. With these insights, retailers can:

  • Pinpoint breakdowns in the buying process
  • Understand decision drivers and barriers
  • Improve self-service purchasing journeys
  • Boost convenience, trust, and conversion

Giving sales and CX teams the insights they need on the purchase stage is the best way to keep customers moving efficiently from consideration to transaction. By creating feedback loops around the buying experience, you can continually optimize, innovate, and exceed evolving customer expectations.

Picture this: You’re shopping for a new pair of running shoes online. You pull up the website of your favorite sporting goods store and browse their selection. You’re quickly overwhelmed by the number of choices, so you click on the first pair to read more about the product description. What does “pronation” mean? Do you really need “ultra-cloud soft support”? This is getting tricky, you contemplate heading to the nearest department store. 

But you don’t have enough time, so you continue your search, finally landing on a pair. You go back to your cart and now must choose the option on how to receive your shoes: shipped, in-person, curbside? You weigh out the time and cost estimates for each and decide on curbside pick-up. Okay, looks like you can’t use your AMEX card here. Time to go grab another card. You’ve checked out and received email confirmation that they’ll be shipped to the nearest store in about a week. Easy? Not really, but you’ve made it through. 

Considering this process from the retailer’s perspective, they likely only see a successful purchase. They don’t know how many questions the customer had while browsing. They don’t see the bugs that create frustration for the shopper.

That’s why the ask” stage—that is, collecting feedback—is so important. Asking customers about their experience provides the opportunity to dig deep into each step and see the experience through their eyes. Without asking for feedback, you can easily miss the details. 

Feedback illuminates the not-so-obvious issues of your customer’s experience. By asking for feedback at specific moments, like after a customer has completed a purchase, you can identify what the customer is feeling and thinking at that point in the customer journey–insight they may not share with you in the future. 

Soliciting feedback at every stage of the purchasing journey is the only way to understand their expectations, frustrations, and speed bumps in real-time. 

Let’s break down the steps to the ask stage. 

The purchasing process is referred to as a funnel because the number of customers who make it into each stage is reduced, or funneled, as browsers abandon their carts or never make it to checkout. Improving conversion rates enlarges the funnel so that more customers continue their journey and eventually convert. 

The beginning of the funnel is where shoppers are just starting to learn about your products. Often referred to as the “discovery stage,” customers ask questions, read information, and make first impressions about your brand and products. They might also need to learn more about sizing and shipping policies to make their decision. 

The purchase stage can become the biggest barrier to conversion, thus costing retailers thousands of dollars in abandoned carts. Online retailers might offer a sign-in option and different payment options during the checkout process. While this may be beneficial for the retailer, collecting shipping and billing information can create friction in the customer’s journey, especially if there are bugs or technical issues with your payment or ecommerce platform. 

Finally, the post-purchase stage is where the order is confirmed. Online customers are sent emails with tracking information and are often provided with an opportunity to provide feedback.

Infographic showing the three stages of the purchasing funnel, from beginning of funnel, to purchase and post-purchase

Most customers are generous with their feedback when given a chance. Just look at social media, for example, or the many online review sites where customers express their impressions, and report experiences and product results. Consumers are more actively reviewing products and services (and reviewing those reviews) than ever before. 

In fact, when buying something for the first time, 74% of consumers say that reading reviews posted online by others who have purchased an item is important. 

For companies looking to improve CX, real-time on-site or in-app feedback through surveys are different methods of asking customers to share their opinion. Each approach works best in certain situations. 

Surveys for technical issues or bug reporting

If a customer runs into a problem while they’re checking out online, they aren’t likely to stop their purchase and contact customer support. Instead, they’ll probably just attempt to finish their purchase (or leave), and you’ll never be any the wiser. 

Instead of letting technical disruptions go unchanged and frustrating customers, treat your customers as your most valued quality assurance testers, empowering them to report bugs in real-time.

Embed simple, non-intrusive feedback forms at multiple touchpoints across your site and apps. Make it effortless for customers to document glitches, friction points, or missing information right in the moment. Actively invite them to collaborate with your product team to squash bugs and smooth rough edges.

By quickly fixing technical issues, you can prevent them from impacting your conversion rate. Every solved problem saves your company from losing money from frustrated customers. 

There are other reasons for capturing targeted and specific feedback with surveys— they allow you to segment and drill down on the exact questions you want to be answered. Let’s go over that next.

The benefits of on-site or in-app surveys  

Every business has different questions they need to answer. Active surveys allow you to ask a precise set of users the right questions at specific points in the customer journey. And because they’re targeted, you can be more selective about the questions you ask, which keeps surveys shorter and customers more likely to want to engage with them. 

Targeted surveys 

The more specific you can be with your surveying, the more sophisticated your Voice of Customer (VoC) strategy can become.