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During Holiday Crush, Mine Customer Data Along With Dollars

The savviest retailers will be working to mine more than dollars from the millions of customers filing through their stores.

The savviest retailers will be working to mine more than dollars from the millions of customers filing through their stores.

After worrisome early forecasts, retailers might be whistling a happier tune about the 2013 holiday shopping season. The U.S. Census bureau reported last week that October retail sales exceeded projections and were about 4 percent higher than a year ago.

That’s great news for retailers, who’ll be working to wring all the benefit they can out of a 26-day shopping frenzy that starts on Black Friday – and even on Thanksgiving for some outlets. For retail, this season can account for up to 40 percent of annual revenue.

But the savviest retailers will be working to mine more than dollars from the millions of customers filing through their stores.

On-the-spot Surveys Provide Real-Time Data

Customer data, gleaned through on-the-spot surveys, can provide a wealth of information about your business and your customers. You just have to know how to gather it.

Most retail surveys go something like this. The sales associate circles a URL on a receipt that prompts a shopper to visit a survey website. The customer smiles and promises to do so and then casually tosses the receipt into the bag and, when he gets home, into the trash.

A better option for retailers who really want customer feedback is to invest in onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_link’, ‘’]); return false;”>digital survey tools. Having a kiosk near the exit where customers can quickly rate their experience, or allowing customers to quickly rate their experience on a tablet while waiting to check out, will garner many more responses than a survey site.

So-called HTML-site surveys are not unlike customer comment cards: Both are passive survey methods that usually receive response rates in the low single digits. Survey tablets have been shown to achieve response rates of 80 percent or higher.

Even better, store managers have access to the data as it’s submitted. There’s no more waiting 30 to 60 days for a third-party company to compile your data. You control how often you see the results, giving you unprecedented control.

Better Insight Means More Sales

Another frustrating problem for retailers is trying to figure out why shoppers browsed but didn’t buy. An estimated 50 to 82 percent of consumers leave a store without buying anything.

With on-site surveying and real-time reporting, you can know why nearly instantaneously. If a lot of shoppers cite messy aisles and inattentive staff, you know to improve customer service. If customers complain about a lack of appealing products, you know the problem is with your inventory.

Another benefit of survey tablets is that multiple surveys can be easily accessed from one tablet, giving you the flexibility to choose a survey that best fits the customer or situation you need to know more about. Simply create multiple sets of questions that target a customer type or scenario, and soon you’ll have the insights needed to immediately improve the customer experience.

Understanding customer likes and dislikes not only arms you with the knowledge to fix problems and avoid mistakes; it results in happier customers and a healthier bottom line.

Build Your Database and Nurture Customer Relationships

Email and mobile marketing is only as effective as its ability to reach your target customers. Tablet surveys are a simple and unobtrusive way to capture shoppers’ emails and cell phone numbers for future campaigns. Consider asking the survey taker for contact info at the end of the survey in exchange for being entered into a giveaway or receiving a discount coupon on future purchases. Customers are much more likely to share their information when they are getting a value out of it. Plus, it can result in some positive word-of-mouth advertising too.

Prudent use of digital survey tools will provide immediate and substantial return. The instantaneous nature and high response rates provide valuable insights that inform immediate improvements to the customer experience. The subscriber capture capabilities can turn once-a-year holiday shoppers into yearlong customer connections.

Find Out More About Gathering Customer Feedback

Complete the form below to download the free eBook, The Power of Instant Customer Feedback, for more detail about why it matters what customers think about you.

Michelle Strong is chief marketing officer at LRS and an advocate for meaningful customer engagement.



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