By Christine Moody, Brand Audits

With all the discussion around the growth of online stores and the ongoing challenges with bricks-and-mortar stores, what every retailer ultimately wants is happy customers. Happy customers leads to both word-of-mouth referrals as well as long-term, repeat customers. Most retailers understand the power of the customer loyalty. While there are a variety of online, digital tools to survey customer satisfaction to capture customer data, many of the traditional customer survey tools are complex and often result in providing a vast quantity of useless data.

And while many will agree that online tools are cost effective, in-depth customers insights as to how a customer is feeling is often missing. To overcome this, one method that is often overlooked is the ‘old-fashioned’ method i.e. talking to your customers. Yes, actually having real conversations with real people i.e. in real life (IRL).

This management tool is called “Net Promoter Score” (NPS) and is used to gauge the loyalty of your customers. The metric was developed by Frederick F. Reichheld and introduced in the 2003 Harvard Business Review article: ‘The one number you need to grow‘ which outlines a process to “measure and manage customer loyalty without the complexity of traditional customer surveys”. And while seeking to rank your customers’ experience with you, it also gives you an opportunity to talk to them further and ask more in-depth questions that can reveal insights beyond pure product or service issues. These insights have the potential to give you new ideas and new opportunities.

What is appealing about this method is that it is simple to implement, and you can start immediately. Your job is to talk to range of customers—via phone or instore—and ask them one question…”How likely is it that you would recommend [company x] to a friend or colleague?”. Yes it is time consuming and labour intensive, but the effort is worth the return and the insightful data you collect. For example, using this method in one of my former retail stores and gave me inspiration for a new innovative product that lead us winning an award for the ‘best creative business idea’.

One of the most important aspects of this process is giving the right person this responsibility because the quality of the data collection is crucial. Collecting the data is a big responsibility as the process is so much more involved than just ticking a box on a questionnaire. You want to be able to record both the customers’ responses as well as any hesitation or additional information the customer gives you during the conversation—nothing they say should be considered trivial, as the data can reveal something amazing and new that you had not even considered. Once collected, the data needs to be analysed and reviewed for themes i.e., regarding service issues as well as new product feedback.

As the business world becomes increasingly competitive, you need to find ways to get closer to your customers. While collecting digital data is important, nothing can replace talking face-to-face and in real-time with your customers. Even though this methods is time consuming, it’s worth the effort to build intensely loyal customers without the complexity and often slow reporting of traditional customer surveys. Having real conversations with the most important people in your business leads to happy customers and repeat business which is the lifeblood of any business.

How often do you have real conversations with your customers IRL?

Fore More Information

> Harvard Business Review—’The one number you need to grow’
https://hbr.org/2003/12/the-one-number-you-need-to-grow

> Harvard Business Review—’The power of positive surveying’
https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-power-of-positive-surveying

> National Retail Association