Digital Retail & Technology | Marketing & Merchandising | Store Operations

The Benefits of Surveys for Technology-Savvy Retailers

May 9, 2022

This article is provided by Reshift Media, a Canadian-based digital marketing and development organization specializing in retail businesses.

Are customer surveys in retail outdated? Do customers nowadays even have the desire or time to fill out a questionnaire on what they think about a business? If you are a retailer who remains ahead of the digital curve by regularly adopting new technology, you might wonder if “traditional” processes like customer surveys are worth the time and energy.

After all, data from customers (both current and prospective) that you can retrieve from any of your digital platforms, such as social media or your website, may provide you with what seems like enough good or bad feedback. For instance, your engagement levels on social media, your level of in-cart abandonment, or  lack of conversions from digital ads could indicate how customers are perceiving your products.

So, are traditional surveys overrated and outdated? It depends.

Are all types of surveys going to be beneficial for your retail business? Absolutely not. Asking customers to fill out a multi-page survey that takes way too long to complete may not be something that will offer much value to both customers and retailers alike. Customers may likely feel overwhelmed with too many questions and rush through their answers to get it over with or abandon the survey mid-way, which is not going to provide the qualitative data retailers need.

On the other hand, a thoughtfully planned out survey that makes it easy for customers to share their thoughts, and that is formatted in a way that showcases your digital-first mindset, may be worth it.

Below are some of the benefits of receiving direct customer feedback via surveys, the various types of surveys you can implement, and the ways you can deliver surveys to increase the likelihood of receiving customer participation.

What is customer feedback?

Surveys allow customers to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a business, products, and/or services. While there are a variety of ways to receive customer feedback, such as through reviews, word of mouth, or social media comments, these are often considered unprompted feedback, in that the retailer is not explicitly asking for it. Meanwhile, isbe a more tailored approach. Both are great and can be extremely helpful to retailers seeking to improve upon their business strategy and find out more from their customer base.

The value of customer feedback

Both positive and negative feedback is almost always going to be helpful in retail. Customer feedback can help retailers better meet customer needs, maintain satisfaction, improve loyalty, help expand product/service offerings that work well, and more.

Customer feedback can help you make more informed, confident decisions. Although you may already have a clear picture of who your audience is and predict what they will typically want or need from your business, it is especially reassuring to hear it from your customers themselves. Is a new service you implemented working? Are your product offerings enough to meet their needs? In a way, customer feedback through prompted methods like surveys, is essentially asking customers for advice about what’s working and what’s not.

What are the benefits of customer surveys in retail?

Let’s look at who typically fills out customer surveys. Research indicates that while 85% of people will provide feedback if they have a good experience, 81% will give feedback when they have a negative one, while only 48% will provide feedback if they’ve had a “normal experience.”

While both extremes (positive vs. negative) from customers can offer valuable information, it can also be useful to obtain thoughts and opinions from customers who had a “typical” or average experience with your business. These may be the customers who are regulars and who have had a consistent experience each time they’ve engaged with your business. Receiving their feedback can offer insight into ways to increase repeat business long-term.

One of the great aspects of surveys is that retailers can send them to customers at various points throughout the customer journey. A short customer satisfaction survey after a customer’s first purchase can go a long way in ensuring that they are content with your business, which can help lead to greater retention. This can also help ignite a meaningful relationship where your customers feel like they are being heard and that their opinions matter, which you can help demonstrate by taking their advice and implementing it.

Surveys can be of great use even before a customer makes a purchase. Think of those instances where an individual abandons their cart; how great would it be to receive feedback at that very moment about why they didn’t make a purchase? That’s where surveys can help. With a couple of carefully constructed questions, and possibly a rating scale for greater efficiency, you may be able to understand why they didn’t follow through with the purchase, which can assist you going forward in your efforts to reduce cart abandonment.

Just because a customer has a positive experience after their first couple of visits, does not mean their needs will stay the same over time, and remaining stagnant in your business strategies can lead to dissatisfaction. Through surveys, catching these consumer changes as they happen can be extremely useful.

Types of surveys

There are many types of customer feedback surveys that retailers can implement. Here are a few popular methods to consider:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This type of survey is widely used to measure customer satisfaction. It is typically designed in two parts with a mix of ratings and open-ended questions. To determine your score, you subtract the percentage of promoters from the percentage of detractors. Promoters are those who made ratings of 9 or 10, while detractors are those who select between 0 to 6. Everything in between is considered passives, and they are not included within the NPS. This type of survey can be a great way to combine the ease of rating, but that also includes follow-ups that require explaining the ratings; context is key.  
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): This survey is pretty open-ended, as the goal here is to inquire about your customers’ satisfaction with your products/services or your business as a whole. However, to get the greatest benefit from this type of survey, the questions you ask need to be motivating to answer, no just “yes” or “no” responses. Instead of asking “Are you satisfied with ___ service and why?” you may consider asking, “What features of this service are beneficial to you?” or “In what ways do our services help you reach your desired goal?” Having open-ended questions such as these will help guide your customers in their response.
  • Customer Effort Score (CES): This helps measure the amount of effort a customer had to put in when using your product/service, finding an answer to their question, having an issue resolved, etc. This type of survey can be given to the customer multiple times, and it usually asks customers to rate something 1-5; strongly disagree to strongly agree. An example question could be, “It was easy for me to find an answer to my question(s)”. Receiving this type of feedback can be beneficial, especially when determining how helpful your customer support is, which is paramount in ensuring customers have a positive experience. The less effort from customers, the better your CES will be.

Ways to deliver customer surveys

To make a customer survey worthwhile and provide you with the best chance to receive valuable feedback, the survey should be given in an accessible format. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, more consumers are spending time online and on their mobile devices. Therefore, issuing a survey digitally would be a great way to meet your customers where they are already spending their time. Ensuring your survey is mobile friendly is imperative, as completing the survey should not be difficult for the consumer.

Receiving customer feedback through follow-up emails is a common method for retailers. After making a purchase, a customer can receive an email (possibly automated) with a link to the survey to complete. The idea is to make room for a conversation, so using questions related directly to that customer’s purchase, rather than general questions about your entire business (which can be used in surveys after) will be much more beneficial, as it will help the customer be more focused in their answers.

Customer feedback surveys that appear on your website can also help, especially when you have determined what exactly it is you want to measure. As we previously mentioned, a survey that appears after a customer abandons their cart can help you determine their motivation. To lead to the greatest results, your survey should have a reason behind it, as it will help you determine when exactly is a good time to deliver it to your customers.

Improving the customer experience is a gradual process, and there is always an opportunity to learn and improve; surveys can help you get there.

About Reshift Media

Reshift Media is a long-time partner of the Retail Council of Canada. The company is a Toronto-based digital marketing and development organization that provides leading-edge social media, search and website/mobile development services to retailers around the world. Please visit www.reshiftmedia.com to learn more.

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