Sample Customer Feedback Questions To Ask in a Retail Store
Retail gets more competitive and challenging each and every year. Whether it’s Amazon trying to eat your lunch, a new store opening down the street or a pandemic trying to wipe you out, capturing and keeping the attention of consumers is increasingly difficult. It doesn’t matter if you’re a discount grocer or a high-end jeweller, consistently delivering a great customer experience (CX) is the only sustainable way to stay ahead. If you’re exceeding customer expectations of retailers in your space, then you will grow by attracting new customers (through referrals) and retaining your existing customers.
The two key things to understand are what expectations you’re creating and whether you’re exceeding them or not. We’ve covered customer expectation management previously (read more about that here). This post focuses on what customer feedback questions you should be asking in a retail business to help you measure whether you’re meeting those expectations or not. And where you’re not, help you understand how to improve the customer experience to the standard you want it to be at.
I include plenty of examples of retail-focused feedback questions throughout, as well as a sample customer feedback survey template for a typical store at the end of the article. These will help you get started capturing feedback in your stores or improve your existing survey.
How Many Questions Should You Ask in a CX Survey?
The first question our clients often ask us is how many questions should be in the survey. We caution against being greedy with your customers’ time. If you try to cover too many bases you may end up actually antagonising customers, which is the case with so many CX surveys I’ve done over the years. It is so depressingly ironic that brands are doing this when the objective is to improve customer experience.
We recommend not going over 10 questions in total. If you want to ask more than that, consider rotating the last few questions on a quarterly basis so that, over the course of the year, you’ve captured data on all the areas you’re interested in.
We also advise our clients to limit the number of free-form questions to one or two and to ask them towards the end of the survey. Making customers type is the fastest way to increase survey abandonment rates and you want to capture as much feedback as possible before that happens. And if you’re using the right tool, one or two free-form word clouds set alongside good quantitative metrics will deliver a lot of valuable insights.
The Three Different Categories of Survey Question
There are many different ways to categorise survey questions but I’m going to break them out as follows:
Customer Discovery Questions
Customer Experience Questions
Operational Compliance Questions
For most retailers, it will make sense to use a combination of all three question types. Within each category, there will be a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions. These will be further broken down into the different retail channels (i.e. in-store, click & collect and delivery) so the majority of the omnichannel retail experience is covered (CX on an eCommerce website is a topic that requires its own blog post - it’s on my list).
Of course, some questions should be applied across all journeys for comparison purposes. It’s important to choose these core metrics carefully and consistently ask the questions over time to give you a clear indication of how your performance is trending.
Sample Operational Compliance Survey Questions for Retailers
Operational compliance questions help senior executives gauge how well staff are implementing company policy and following the training they have been given etc. This type of question is very popular with retailers who are using the survey instead of or to complement a mystery shopper program. These questions often have “Yes/No” answers, because the staff member either did what they were supposed to do or they didn’t.
The following are some examples:
Did a staff member greet you when you entered the store? Yes/No
Were there free baskets or trolleys available when you arrived at the store? Yes/No
Did a staff member ask you if you needed help? Yes/No
Were you invited to sign up to our loyalty card during your visit? Yes/No
Did our cashier acknowledge you when you arrived at the till? Yes/No
Did your parcel arrive within 3 working days of you placing your order? Yes/No
Did your delivery include everything you ordered? Yes/No
Did the delivery arrive within the window you were advised it would? Yes/No
One of the big advantages of these types of customer feedback questions is their simplicity and the clarity of the data they produce. From a retail perspective, even if you’re only getting a couple of surveys a day completed per store, at the end of the year you’re going to have 700 pieces of data to assess performance on. Compare that to the small number of snapshots that mystery shopper reports rely on (generally one a quarter or one a month). This is one reason why you should consider alternatives to a mystery shopper program if you want to monitor customer experience closely.
Some of the downsides of this type of question are:
They provide no context around what went wrong.
You get no sense of the severity of the problem.
If a customer has a small issue they may feel compelled to answer negatively even though overall they felt satisfied.
To avoid these problems, only use these questions when the answer can only be “yes” or “no”.
Sample Customer Experience Survey Questions for Retail
Customer experience (CX) survey questions focus on how the customer felt during their visit, which is a little more complicated to measure. Most retailers use one or more of the following questions to do that:
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Customer or Shopper Effort Score (CES/SES)
The mechanics of measuring and calculating these metrics is covered elsewhere on our blog, so this article will focus on how to use them in a retail context.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS has been widely adopted by enterprises as a way to benchmark the performance of different processes or locations within their business. Frequently, they also use it to compare their performance against competitors. The question must be asked using the same standard wording:
“How likely is it that you would recommend [insert brand/product/service] to a friend or colleague? Where 0 is not at all likely and 10 is very likely.”
The purpose of this question is not just to gauge customer satisfaction; it is also to estimate the level of customer advocacy or word-of-mouth marketing that is taking place in the community. The idea is that a promoter score (9 or 10) should indicate that customers think so highly of your brand that they would recommend it if asked for a recommendation. For instance, I don’t know how many times I have suggested to someone that they should visit my local IKEA store. Such personal recommendations carry far more weight with other consumers than what they see on TV or social networking sites.
If you’ve chosen NPS as your primary CX metric, then don’t forget to ask a follow-up question to find out the main driver behind the score. For example:
“What was the main reason you gave that rating?”
At ServiceDock, we use the answer to this question to populate a word cloud that is linked to NPS scores. This makes it very easy to figure out what is going wrong or right in a particular store, region or brand. That gives each store manager and regional manager clarity on what needs to be worked on to improve customer experience and loyalty.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Questions
CSAT questions are designed to help you understand how satisfied customers are with your store, service and products etc. Unlike NPS, CSAT questions can take lots of different formats. The customer might be asked to indicate their level of satisfaction by selecting an emoji, a number or a phrase (e.g. “Very Satisfied”). A sample CSAT question might look something like the following:
CSAT questions provide a quick way to measure things like store appearance, checkout experience and value for money, for example.
Linking the results to free form feedback (e.g. the NPS free-form feedback discussed above) is highly recommended because it will give you more context around poor scores.
Customer Effort Score/Shopper Effort Score
Customer Effort Score (CES) or Shopper Effort Score (SES) measures how difficult it is for a customer to do the job they set out to achieve. Essentially, it’s intended to measure frustration. In a retail store context, it might be used to get a better understanding of store layout and how easy customers can find the product they want, for example.
How easy was it to do what you needed to do in-store?
Everyone is familiar with rating questions because they’re used widely across consumer applications like Uber, Yelp! and IMDB. Using stars or numbers, the customer is simply asked to rate their experience out of 3, 5, 7 or 10. The simplicity of this type of question is its strength. Staff members do not need an explanation about how good 5 out of 5 is or how bad 1 star is.
Free-form questions could be included under any section but I like using them to dig deeper into the customer experience. A personal favourite is to use them to dig deeper into the experience each staff member in a store delivers. For example, start by asking:
Would you like to comment on a particular member of staff? Yes - Compliment / Yes - Complaint/No
And follow it up with:
Great! Please name or describe the staff member and add your compliment so we can share it with them?
This question can be very useful when it comes to awarding employee of the month prizes.
Sample Customer Discovery Questions for Retailers
The last set of questions are intended to help you better understand who your customers are, what they want and how you can improve the chances of them becoming a regular customer. Most of the time you will be using multiple-choice questions or free-form questions to extract this information from customers. The younger your business is the more valuable these questions are because it’s extremely difficult to promote a brand if you don’t know who your target market is. Some of these questions become less useful the longer you’re open and can be substituted for CX questions.
How did you find out about [your brand]?
What age range do you fall into? Under 18/18–30/31–40/41–55/Over 55
Is there anything else you would like to say about your visit?
They can generate very valuable insights when paired with free-form questions. For example:
Did you find everything you were looking for in-store today? Yes/No
If “No” the next question should fire.
That’s disappointing to hear. What else were you looking for?
This can provide good data that feeds into product range decisions.
How frequently do you shop in a [your brand] store?
First Time/Occasionally/Once a Month/Weekly
If they answer “First Time” or “Occasionally” the next question should fire.
Is there something we could do to encourage you to visit more often?
Click and Collect Shopper Surveys
What made you decide to use our click-and-collect service?
How did you hear about our click-and-collect service?
How could we make our click-and-collect service better?
I haven’t mentioned the power of following up and closing the feedback loop before but you can imagine how impactful it would be if you got back to a customer to thank them for their suggestion.
Customer Feedback Survey Sample Template for Retail Stores
Were you greeted by a member of staff when you entered the store?
How satisfied were you with the service you received from our staff today?
How satisfied were you with the appearance of the store?
Did you get everything you were looking for today? (If they answer “No”, then a secondary question should fire to find out what they were looking for).
How satisfied were you with our checkout experience?
How likely is it that you would recommend [your brand here] to a friend or colleague? Where 0 is not at all likely and 10 is very likely.
Finally, why did you give that rating?
We recommend asking your key metric towards the end of the survey. The reason is the follow-up free form question. Asking a free form question early in the survey will drive abandonment and it can also lead to the survey seeming repetitive. If you’ve explained that a store associate was rude in an early free-form question, it can be very irritating to be asked later in the survey what your thoughts on the customer service are.
As I mentioned before, there’s always the temptation to ask a million and one different questions and this may seem too superficial to get any insight from. What you have to remember is that you are asking a customer to spend some of their precious time on this and, ideally, you want them to do it repeatedly over the course of their relationship with you. What you want to do is cover the core aspects of the experience from a quantitative viewpoint so you can track trends over time and compare the performance of different stores etc. The final free-form question gives the customer the opportunity to bring your attention to other areas that you may not be aware of or to flesh out the reasons for the scores they’ve given.
If I was going to add more questions I would lean towards capturing customer details like email addresses for marketing purposes if you don’t already have them. This is one of the hidden benefits of a well-designed customer experience program. The digital touchpoints it creates can be used to convert more offline customers into online customers without having to pay Google for the clicks.
Start Capturing Customer Feedback in Your Stores Today
If you’re just getting started with CX in your stores, hopefully, this blog post has helped you narrow down what customer feedback questions to ask in your survey. The next decision is how you’re going to gather customer feedback in your stores. We’ve covered the pros and cons of the main methods in this blog post.
On the other hand, if you’ve been running a survey for a while and you’re frustrated with the volume of responses you’re getting, maybe you need to improve the way you’re asking customers for feedback. We’ve covered how to improve the user experience of your survey here.
Once you’ve got decent survey engagement and a good flow of data, the real challenge is how to make sense of it and use it to improve customer experience. Assuming you have more than a handful of stores, you will need tools to help you analyse customer feedback, particularly unstructured comments where a lot of the gold nuggets are to be found. It’s important that whatever tool you choose can be used by key employees like area and store managers. These individuals have the most direct control over the customer experience on the frontline and you will see better results if they are staying abreast of feedback (read more about that here).
Finally, you need to demonstrate that the expense, time and effort invested in capturing customer feedback is worthwhile. This is particularly true where there is doubt among key executives about the return on investment of such activity. This can be very challenging but in a chain store scenario, it is sometimes clear as day. We have clients that show a clear correlation between stores with high NPS scores and profitability. Being able to point to such metrics will support your CX budget long into the future, which is important in these challenging times.