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Collecting Customer Feedback and shopping data for Retailers

Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In a recently published whitepaper by Retail Touchpoints and Empathica, entitled “Top 5 Trends in Retail for Improving Customer Service and Advocacy Management,” we identified five key retail trends that every savvy retailer should consider to help them pave the way to establishing emotional connections between shoppers and their brands.

Here is Trend #3: Collecting Customer Feedback And Shopping Data…

Capturing honest feedback that represents a broad spectrum of customers is essential to an effective customer experience management program. But challenges abound. Many retailers complain they struggle to get the perfect sample, while customers complain they don’t have enough choices or flexibility to share their opinions. Besides taking a toll on accurate samples, this disconnect also causes a decrease in shopper input after the first year when survey fatigue can set in.

How can retailers use innovation to ensure a high volume of responses from their customer base, and ensure stores follow up with customer feedback? Mobile technology can help. For example, customers can use their mobile phones to fill out a survey in real-time in-store. Additionally, merchants can collect more detailed customer data through the use of QR codes and SMS messaging.

Retailers must work to streamline the process with a variety of flexible survey methods, from traditional point-of-sale invitations to SMS and interactive voice recognition options, all of which integrate seamlessly within retailers’ brand experiences. As costs drop and interfaces are user-friendly and accessible, technology is enabling value to retailers and helping them to improve the consumer experience.

UK-based Debenhams, for example, was looking for a way to collect quality
customer feedback, after its mystery shopper program transitioned to a store
“auditing program” that rated stores on performance but failed to report what real shoppers were thinking. A solution from Empathica provided invitations printed on POS receipts designed to encourage customers to complete an online survey. The survey asked for feedback on customer experience-related topics including the chain’s product range, value, quality of staff, service provided by staff, and displays. In order to increase response rates and thank those who completed surveys, the program entered each respondent into a lottery for a chance to win prizes.

The chain has collected more than 380,000 pieces of feedback, which translated into more than 25 million data points —the equivalent of more than 1,000 responses per store annually. Previously Debenhams only completed 12 mystery shop surveys per year for each location.

The new program delivered impressive results. Customer service satisfaction levels jumped 9% from 47% to 56% in one year. The retailer also improved all aspects of the customer experience, including POS and merchandise availability, as well as fitting room conditions. More than 50% (or 200,000) shoppers were “wowed” by staff members, and this feedback helped the chain retain or “rescue” shoppers who may have been soon-to-defect.

“The project has given our company a new passion for customer service and  a focus on what’s most important,” said Kate Whittaker, Strategy Manager,Debenhams. “Rather than sales advisers learning how to ‘pass’ a set of criteria covered in the mystery shop, the focus is now squarely on the customer, and meeting and exceeding the customer’s expectations each time they are in the store.”

The chain, which uses the solution across all 169 stores in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, has earned an overall customer satisfaction level of 71%.

A customer experience management program is the next natural step beyond a mystery shopping program. Unlike mystery shopping, a CEM program goes beyond a limited set of anecdotal feedback from a checklist and enables a retailer to gather a broader set of data – straight from their customers. The increasing usage of smartphones and social media also continues to push the envelope on CEM programs, providing another channel of immediate customer feedback.

Retail TouchPoints and Empathica Whitepaper: Top 5 Trends in RetailTo read the full whitepaper and details on the other top four trends, download the Retail TouchPoints and Empathica whitepaper, “Top 5 Trends in Retail for Improving Customer Service and Advocacy Management.”

Download whitepaper

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