What Are Your Customers Saying About You?

Earlier this week, I touched base with part of the online team from Hot Topic, Inc., which operates brick and mortar and online retail stores under the Hot Topic, Torrid and ShockHound brands. On the call were Brita Womack, Director of hottopic.com; Tricia Burch, Producer for torrid.com; and supporting all three sites, Deanna Steele, Director of Internet Operations; Joy Hussey, Customer Service Manager; and Tracy Hagerman, Online Marketing Manager.

Hot Topic’s commitment to customer satisfaction is evidenced by the 16 collective years that they’ve been using the BizRate Ratings & Customer Feedback Platform. Hot Topic has utilized the BizRate Ratings & Customer Feedback Platform since 2000, during which time it has maintained its Customer Certified standing and has collected over 150,000 customer ratings! Torrid.com has been using the ratings and feedback platform since 2002; it too is Customer Certified and has compiled over 50,000 customer reviews.

During our call, we talked about the feedback tools that Hot Topic uses, how they use them to validate insights, and some of the features and services they’d like to see us offer.

Hot Topic uses the BizRate Customer Feedback Form to collect customer ratings and reviews, as well as our very popular VitalMail and VitalSigns service. The Hot Topic team uses data collected through our feedback survey to monitor trends in overall customer satisfaction. But, more importantly, they use the data to validate feedback they receive from their customers. For example, the team believed that they could better serve customers’ needs with respect to order shipping, in terms of both rates and the range of shipping options. Using the responses from the BizRate Feedback Form related to customers’ satisfaction with shipping, the team was able to validate their belief. And, with this data, they are a introducing some programs and promotions that will better address their customers’ shipping preferences.

Hot Topic’s most widely applied use of the ratings & feedback tools is in understanding what their customers are saying about them and their shopping experience and customer service experiences. Joy Hussey, who’s been with the company for about 8 years, shared with me that the team also relies heavily on our VitalMail and VitalSigns products, both of which provide specific customer comments that are collected through the feedback form. In cases where customers grant permission (in the feedback form) to share their email address, Hot Topic proactively contacts their customers to follow-up with them about the comments they made.

I also asked Hot Topic what they’d like to see from us going forward. They identified four opportunities where we could better serve them. They are:

  1. Offer the ability to customize questions on their customer feedback form
  2. Better support on customers’ questions about survey incentives and promotions
  3. Faster turn-around time on adding subscribers to VitalMail
  4. Offer a visitor and cart abandonment survey product

I was able to address most of these areas of opportunity during our call.

Custom Questions: Merchants can customize question in their feedback form; this is offered as premium, fee-based service.

Better Support on Survey Incentives: We utilize various incentives and promotions, such as our popular Daily Cash Giveaway, to help drive response to the surveys. We have a dedicated customer service team that handles all inquires about these incentives and promotions. When your customers contact you with questions or issues related to these promotions, you may simply direct them to our customer service team; we’ll immediately and professionally follow-up with these respondents on your behalf and, then we’ll circle back with you on the resolution of the issue.

Faster Turn-Around on Adding Subscribers to VitalMail and QuickResponse: We’re aware that this is an issue. We hope to better address this in the coming year by offering self-service subscription management to these products.

Visitor & Cart Abandonment Survey: We are currently in beta with a product that offers precisely this. Currently, we have one well-known, branded retailer using the product. (In the coming weeks, we’ll reveal in this blog who it is and what their thoughts are about it).

So, while in our first user interview with Backcountry.com, we heard about how they rely on the BizRate Ratings to help boost their rankings in Google Product Search, in this second interview, learned about how Hot Topic uses our products to find out what their customers are saying about them.

Thank you Brita, Deanna, Joy, Tracy and Tricia for taking the time to speak with me.