Digital Intercept: How to Collect Customer Feedback Without Ruining the Experience

We’ve all been there. You’re shopping for something online and you start to compare options on different websites. You’re excited to explore a particular item, but as soon as you click into the brand’s website, a little window pops up asking you what you think of the website experience. “What experience?” you think. “I barely just entered the page!”

This little pop-up window is more commonly known in the customer experience (CX) industry as an intercept or digital intercept. Though the use of a digital intercept has great intentions, the unfortunate truth is that it can often harm the customer experience more than it improves the experience. 

How Traditional Intercepts Damage the Experience

The ultimate goal of digital intercepts should be to get valuable feedback about your website and user experience so you can innovate and improve; however, some common practices can actually be perceived as intrusive, ill-timed, or irrelevant.

  1. Intrusive

When a customer is casually perusing a site, a random pop-up can feel intrusive to the overall experience; they can feel hassled or like their interaction with your site has been interrupted. Ultimately, what may have been meant as a well-intentioned prompt can feel invasive and could cause a customer to abandon your page.

  1. Ill-timed

If a survey window pops up as soon as a customer arrives at your homepage, your customer has not been able to get a good look at the full page, much less get an impression of how it functions or if they have any suggestions. Therefore, they most likely won’t have much feedback to give you—if they choose to participate in the survey at all. 

  1. Irrelevant

Traditional practices with intercepts are one-size-fits-all; very rarely are they customized to ask the right questions at the right time. This lack of customization means the questions asked are not directly relevant to a customer’s individual experience, leaving the brand with shallow feedback that won’t make a real difference.

What Are Best Practices for Digital Intercepts? 

The end goal of an intercept is not about collecting as much data as possible, but about giving customers the opportunity to provide useful data at the right time.

Here are some suggestions on how brands can do just that: 

Don’t: Create One-size-fits-all Intercept Surveys

Do: Map Out Possible Site Pathways for Customization

Instead of drafting one intercept survey to serve your entire site, consider all the different touchpoints you want to collect data from and then craft questions.

  • Keep in mind how users are browsing your site and craft intercepts around that information. For instance, a feedback tab may be perfect for desktop users, but it’s far too small in size for mobile users. Consider using a banner on your mobile site instead.
  • Be creative! Triggers can be used together to target specific user groups for feedback. For example, if you want to collect more feedback from customers in a specific state, you can set a trigger based on IP addresses.

Don’t: Ask Unnecessary or Irrelevant Questions

Do: Gear Questions Toward the User’s Specific Experience

In order to get the best feedback possible, you have to ask the right questions about the right experience for each type of customer. For instance, a question asking about the checkout experience would be irrelevant to a customer who has yet to make a purchase. Instead, set a trigger for an intercept to appear for a customer with a few lingering items in their bag to learn why they haven’t taken the plunge. 

  • Keep it simple. Surveys that are too long are less likely to be completed and also take away from the user experience. Try to keep it to a few high-quality questions so you can get the information you need without losing your customer’s attention.
  • Revisit the map of possible visitor pathways you created to help prescribe questions to specific user situations. The more tailored your questions can be to a customer scenario, the better. For example, you can ask specific questions targeting those who use the mobile site in order to improve the mobile design and experience.

Don’t: Have Something Pop Up Right Away

Do: Give Customers Time to Provide Informed Feedback 

The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is especially relevant when you’re collecting data; if you aren’t collecting quality feedback, your insights won’t create real business impact. This is why it’s especially important to give your customers the opportunity to navigate your site before asking them to give you feedback.

  • Strategically place a feedback tab or another always-available channel on the website for instant feedback. This way, customers have the ability to provide you with feedback outside of the triggers you’ve set up.
  • Set up an intercept for customers who have lingered on the site for some time but haven’t made a purchase or reached out. This allows you to check in and see if they have any questions or concerns.

Enhance, Don’t Interrupt

Whenever you set up an intercept survey on your website, you should ask yourself if it will enhance or interrupt your customer’s experience. If you seek to enhance the experience with every question, you are well on your way to the best feedback, insights, and positive business impact.

Digital Customer Experience: The Value of “Slamming” Your Assumptions

In the world of experience (especially when we’re talking about digital customer experience), we’re constantly making predictions or hypotheses about what the customer is expecting from their experience. And whether we’re making a change to the website, opening a new store, or debuting a new product, that prediction will either be right or wrong. 

When we’re wrong, or surprised, it can be easy to feel like we have failed. But in reality, these moments are really opportunities to slam our assumptions, dive into our feedback data, and improve experiences.

This is exactly what we discussed at a recent event with InMoment client Julie (JB) Booth, Head of UX/CX at Columbia Sportswear. In that presentation, JB walked us through how she and her team put their beliefs about in-person and digital customer experience expectations into perspective, use CX tools to dive in and test assumptions, and finally create a culture with an opportunity mindset.

In today’s post, however, we’ll walk through the steps of an exercise JB calls an “assumption slam,” so you can take this process back to your team and use it to test any assumptions of your own. Let’s get started!

How to “Slam” In-Person & Digital Customer Experience Assumptions

You know the old saying, “If you assume, you’re making an ‘a**’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” And it’s true! If you are assuming you know exactly what the customer expects out of their experience, you are not truly serving them. Instead, you need to operate on the theory of falsification: to have a great hypothesis, you need to be willing to prove yourself wrong. And that’s where an “assumption slam” comes in handy.

Step #1: Gather Your Team & Select a Topic

The first step in an “assumption slam” is to select a specific topic. If you were to select a broad topic such as “the digital customer experience,” it would be hard to create a thorough list. That’s why JB suggests a more specific theme, like how a specific customer segment navigates your website. 

Step #2: Give Your Team Permission to Assume

Next, you need to give yourself permission to assume. Oftentimes, it can feel embarrassing to believe something based on instinct, without having looked into whether that belief is qualified by any data. That’s why it’s so important to let the team know there is no pressure to back up any claims they speak. This kind of behavior is most effective when modeled by team leaders; if the leader is willing to be vulnerable and talk about their assumptions, it gives the rest of the team permission to do the same.

Step #3: List Out Assumptions

Grab a white board and start listing out any and all assumptions! Don’t feel the need to be neat and organized yet—that will come later. Right now, you are primarily trying to get all the assumptions about the in-person or digital customer experience out in the open. You might even find that multiple team members have been operating under the same assumptions. 

Step #4: Map Out Assumptions by Risk & Testability

Now it’s time to get organized. Draw two intersecting axes, labeling one “risk” and the other “testability.” Once you’ve done that, as a team, map each assumption along the axes. This allows you to gauge priorities. Those assumptions labeled as “high risk, high testability” will be the first you want to dive into. 

Step #5: Dive into Assumptions with Impact

You’ve identified the “high risk, high testability” assumptions your team has about your focus subject, but what do you do now? Well, you get testing! Start with the assumption with the most risk and highest testability and develop a plan for how your team can test that assumption. Then you can work your way down your list until you no longer have assumptions—until you have concrete facts about the way your customers behave and what they expect from their in-person and digital customer experience.

Testing Your Assumptions—and Acting on the Results

Want to learn more about how you can take the results of your assumption slam and then take action to improve your experiences? You can watch the full webinar with helpful tips and tricks here! 

A Three Step Plan to Upgrade Your Digital Customer Experience

When the pandemic started, brands around the world revamped their digital customer experience to compensate for the lack of in-person interaction. And as vaccine rates continue to rise and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, some companies may think it’s fine to take a chill pill when it comes to improving digital channels. But that’s actually not the right attitude!

The data from our Digital Customer Experience Trends Report showcases why it’s so crucial for businesses to continue driving digital experiences in their CX programs. To unearth the trends, our Strategic Insights team collected over 2,000 responses across various industries—these include retail, grocery, pharmacy, financial institutions, restaurants, hospitality, automotive, healthcare, and entertainment—in both Canada and the United States. And with these responses, we were able to create a three step plan to upgrade your brand’s digital CX journey. Let’s hop right in!

  1. Keep Making Digital Experiences a CX Priority
  2. Focus on Ease of Digital Experiences
  3. Blend in-store and Digital Experiences

Step #1: Keep Making Digital Experiences a CX Priority

When COVID-19 restrictions were announced, many companies correctly predicted that the usage for digital platforms would increase. After all, how else could consumers interact with brands? However, our research tells us that the usage surprisingly didn’t skyrocket because of the pandemic:

According to the graph above, digital usage has been a trend for some time. Yes, the U.S. and Canada all experienced increases in digital use during the pandemic, but the numbers don’t lie! The highest increase across the board was only 13%. In all of these industries, consumers clearly maintained a demand for digital experiences.

Based on the data, digital experiences were relevant prior to the pandemic, which means it’ll stay relevant even after the government uplifts restrictions. This also means that the first step in improving your brands’ digital CX program is, you guessed it—continue to prioritize digital! Don’t take your foot off the gas just because people can go into the store. 

One way to do this can involve integrating key players from all backgrounds to create a core digital team. Those with expertise in user experience, marketing, web development, and the like can put their minds together to set up a game plan derived from actionable intelligence. This way your business gets multiple perspectives included in the process rather than solely the customer experience one. And don’t forget! Prioritizing doesn’t mean having just one meeting, it means a constant flow of team diligence over time.

Step #2: Focus on Ease of Digital Experiences

We just learned that consumers care about digital (and always have), but what specific qualities of digital experiences mean the most to them? According to our research, 50% of Americans and 67% of Canadians said it was easy to go digital, but also over half of Americans and 25% of Canadians spoke to how difficult it was to resolve technical issues through call centers. 

Based on the evidence above, convenience is one of digital’s strongest attraction factors. Consumers expect transitioning to digital experiences to be trouble-free, or else, why would they take the time to transition? Your brand should incorporate digital experiences without adding any extra hassle because using technology is meant to be just that—no extra hassle! 

It’s completely understandable if problems like app or website bugs still occur in your digital experience journey. Perfection is often an endless goal, but that doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t strive for it. To keep the digital experience itself just as smooth as the transition, your brand needs to provide resources when things go haywire. Implementing updated help pages or training call center agents can help make it easy for customers to get the assistance they need. This also keeps your digital team on their toes and attentive to how your company’s digital experience is evolving.

Step #3: Blend In-Store and Digital Experiences

Beyond the experience behind the screen, customers also want digital attributes to be integrated into in-store interactions. For instance, grocery stores with self-checkout options are a prime example of successfully blending the two. Our research even shows us that one of three Americans and one of two Canadians like and expect contactless payment in the stores they shop in. 

When refining your brands’ CX program, it’s important to design holistically so that both the digital and in-person elements work together seamlessly. There will be mishaps along the way, but the key is to adapt as you go. Customers expect quick changes to customer experiences and definitely notice when competitors beat your brand to it. So as your business adapts, make the effort to communicate those new and exciting features through emails or app notifications. Then customers will know your brand is continuously trying to make their experiences worthwhile. 

Enjoyed learning how to upgrade your digital customer experience? Read our 2021 Digital CX Trends Report to learn why digital is not going away anytime soon—and which steps your business should take to keep up with the digital world!

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