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Converting Customer Survey Respondents into Social Media Advocates

This article was first published as a Maritz Research White Paper. You can view the original paper here.

Boost Your Company’s Online Presence by Building Customer Trust

There’s tremendous power in customers advocating for your brand via “word of mouse,” and many companies are wondering how to harness the customer feedback collected through surveys to bolster their company’s online presence. The first step in doing this, long before offering the survey, is to establish a good relationship with customers. This begins by ensuring trust with their information, and also by providing a consistently authentic experience.

The two key guidelines to ensure authenticity and trust:

  1. Always ask survey respondents if they want their comments to be posted on your website or various other social media/review sites. This ensures that you gain the individual respondent’s approval before posting, thus bolstering the trust you’ve established with the individual customer.
  2. Invite all respondents, regardless of the positive or negativity of their responses, to post their feedback on your website or various other social media/review sites. This builds trust with your potential consumers by giving them the “real story,” not just a positive one. In this paper, we’ll build on our prior paper by outlining approaches to encourage survey respondents to become social media advocates.

In this post, I’ll be outlining some approaches to encourage survey respondents to become social media advocates for your brand, as well as explaining how you can harness customer feedback to improve brand image.

Providing Links to Company and/or Retailer Facebook and Twitter Pages

One of the easiest options is to provide a link at the end of the survey that directs respondents to click over and leave a comment or post a “like” on Facebook or to “follow” the company on Twitter. We have also seen companies provide these links in the survey invitation email rather than at the end of survey.

For Facebook, in many cases (depending on privacy settings) the respondent’s friends will be notified in their Facebook Newsfeed that the respondent “likes” your company. In the case of Twitter, individuals may see that their friends are following your company.

On these pages, include images that represent your brand, featuring employees or showcasing the products themselves. People will associate the company with the images it appears with. With only a few moments to make an impression, you want to make sure viewers know exactly what you are about.

Third-Party Customer Review and Rating Sites

Another option is to provide a link to third-party rating and review sites, such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, Dealer Rater, and Google+. For some companies and products, these sites greatly influence buyer purchasing, making it important for you to proactively manage how your company/retailers are represented there.

As well, by proactively managing your presence on these sites, you can minimize damage to your company’s/retailer’s reputation from outdated reviews and/or bogus reviews that may be posted by your own employees (too positive) or competitors (too negative). Responding to reviews is a great way to show that your business is listening to what its customers are saying. Extending assistance to a respondent with a bad review can change someone’s mind about your company’s service, and it communicates the message that the goal overall is to proactively solve incidents.

You can drive traffic on these sites by simply providing a link to these sites at the conclusion of your survey. Ideally, these links should lead directly to the company’s or its retailers’ individual pages at the site, rather than just linking to the site’s broader home page (e.g., By linking directly to the right page, you make the posting process easier for your customers and ensure they post to the correct place on the site.

That being said, the page URLs can change, so I’d recommend frequent monitoring of these links to ensure they don’t “break.”

One disadvantage to linking customers to third-party rating sites is that many of them (Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Google+ included) require people to sign up for free accounts before posting comments. Keep in mind that you may need to share information from these sites on other visible platforms, so that everyone can have access.

Posting Summary-Level Data on Company and/or Retailer Sites

Another option for sharing survey results is to post a top-level, summarized score, such as that for Overall Satisfaction, on your website. For example, Volkswagen in the UK proudly posts a “Percent Positive Feedback” for each of its retailers. Car buyers can search the Volkswagen UK website to locate retailers in their area and then see the top-level score for each retailer nearby. This helps the customer choose which retailer to visit and drives retailers to focus on delivering a great customer experience.

Sharing Ratings and Reviews to Company and/or Retailer Sites

Possibly the most extensive use of using survey responses to promote advocacy is to post each respondent’s overall rating and comments on the company’s and/or its retailers’ websites. Many companies do this, including Best Buy and BMW.

In both cases, each respondent’s overall ratings and their comments are prominently displayed on the retailers’ sites along with an overall summary score for the retailer (BMW’s program appears to be voluntary, as not all dealerships have survey scores and comments posted). Furthermore, in the case of Best Buy, the overall summary score shows up on the Google search results page when one searches for a store location.

The process of posting every respondent’s individual responses has several advantages. First, each retailer looks much more active. When consumers read online reviews about locations, they look at both the proportion of good reviews to bad reviews and the total number of reviews. Just as one may avoid an empty restaurant, a low number of reviews may deter a consumer from visiting a certain retailer.

By posting all survey responses, you can bolster the perception of an active business, and improve the currency of the information. Unlike third-party websites, you can set the number of reviews displayed on the website, so out-of-date reviews, which may paint a different picture than the reality of today, are removed as they are replaced by more current customer comments. Lastly, by posting feedback from ALL survey respondents, you build consumers’ trust, as they sense a truly realistic impression of performance

Choosing a Plan That’s Best for Your Business

There are several options for converting survey respondents to social media/online advocates and each has its strengths and weaknesses. The answer to which road to take requires a solid understanding of your industry, an appreciation for the influence level of third-party review websites, and, most importantly, a respect for the thoughtful consumers who respond to your surveys. At MaritzCX, we stand ready to help you navigate the options.

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