The point of sale is an incredibly important time for retailers to engage their customers. However, most are stuck using outdated feedback methods (think receipt questionnaires and kiosk surveys) designed to collect mass feedback rather than reveal key customer experience issues. Generic and impersonal, these point-of-sale surveys do a poor job of uncovering meaningful insights. And worse, the data they collect is typically tough—if not impossible—to act on.
When a retailer misses the critical opportunity to engage an unhappy customer, they’re at risk of losing more than that one customer’s business. Studies show that dissatisfied customers tell anywhere from 9 to 15 other people about their negative experiences. Today, in the age of social media and online reviews, even one negative voice can damage a company’s brand reputation overnight.
In order to truly understand customer sentiment, retailers need to adopt more personalized survey methods that get to the heart of the customer’s experience. Otherwise, they’re just asking customers for generic feedback that will ultimately go nowhere.
Why point-of-sale surveys don’t always work
In-store kiosk surveys, receipt questionnaires, and happy or not buttons may seem like interesting ways to engage customers, but they rarely produce actionable data that helps retailers make tangible business improvements.
- They’re impersonal and generic. Typically, point-of-sale surveys ask customers the same set of questions, regardless of what they bought or who they interacted with. When questions are impersonal, so is the feedback you get.
- Customers answer mindlessly, so the data is inflated and inaccurate. The data retailers collect from point-of-sale surveys is pretty dismal. That’s partly because of the setting and timing for customer responses. If you’re collecting feedback in-store, you can almost guarantee rushed answers. And as customers breeze through your survey questions, your data will become murkier and murkier.
- The results aren’t actionable or revealing. What do you actually do with star ratings? Short answer: close to nothing. It’s the qualitative feedback that makes all the difference, but most retailers are selling themselves short by not asking for it.
4 ways to improve point-of-sale surveys
Rather than running a bland survey and following standard protocol, retailers should get creative and think hard about the survey experience they’re providing. By putting more energy and thought into point-of-sale surveys, retailers improve their feedback programs and get clearer insights.
1. Personalize the questions
One of the biggest mistake retailers make when using point-of-sale surveys is they use the same survey for everyone, regardless of what city they’re in, what product they bought, or how much they spent.
If you want to improve your point-of-sale surveys, you want to make sure they’re personalized so that they’re relevant to the customer. To personalize, you can use their name to get their attention. You can also include details about their order/experience, like the product(s) the customer purchased and/or the rep who helped them.
2. Stick to the essentials
Rather than asking customers several questions at a sale, stick to the essentials. You can learn a lot from getting a sense of overall sentiment. Consider asking a qualitative, open-ended question. You can then use GetFeedback Text Analytics to analyze sentiment automatically, generating data you can analyze and act upon.
You also need to watch out for bias. According to a report conducted by Interaction Metrics, 82% of retail surveys had a least one question that used overly positive (forced) wording that biased customers’ responses.
3. Make responding to surveys easy
The biggest reason that customers don’t respond to surveys is that it’s inconvenient or time-consuming. In order to answer the questions, they have to jump through a series of hoops. According to Interaction Methods, many surveys took longer to complete than the shopping experience itself, which is pretty ridiculous.
To prevent survey fatigue, we recommend embedding a survey question into your order confirmation emails, so customers can reply after they’re out of the store/off your website/not mentally overloaded, but still likely to engage.
You should also consider distributing surveys through your customers’ preferred channel—for example, if you know they engage with you on Facebook, you might consider asking them to fill out a survey via Facebook Messenger.
4. Focus on collecting qualitative data
Although it can be tempting to ask customers for every possible bit of information, this can actually work against you. You’re much better off measuring one or two things, like the ease of checkout or the quality of the in-store experience.
When it comes to point-of-sale surveys, you need to focus on collecting data that’s most relevant to you. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, qualitative data can actually help more than quantitative. For example, if you ask each customer how their shopping experience could be improved, you’ll gain a lot of information about where the stumbling blocks are.
It’s up to retailers to provide the right channel for customers to speak up and actually be heard. When done well, point-of-sale surveys can provide high-impact customer data that can helps retailers truly understand their customer base.