They say they want your input. You give it to them and then ... wait for it ... nothing.
Many consumers share the experience of filling out a form or perhaps speaking with a department manager about products they should stock or other steps they could take to make a store or website better, and then nothing happens.
I can remember when a mass merchandiser opened in our area a few years ago and had a small grocery section consisting of shelf stable, refrigerated and frozen foods. There were a number of products the store sold that my family liked so, at the chain's request (it said it right there on the receipt), I went online and provided a detailed list of other high-selling items that I would be very happy to buy at the store. I also pointed out product handling issues, such as rampant freezer burn on ice cream and other items. Out-of-stocks were a problem that I believed was due to the store's practice of filling the shelves at night. That might work with apparel and toys, but grocery was a completely different animal. So, long story short, I really wanted to help this store improve and ... wait for it ... nothing. (Okay, that's not completely true. About two years after my email, they started stocking Peet's Coffee, still a relative rarity here in New Jersey.)
Now comes new research from Empathica, a customer experience management firm, to show that I'm not alone. According to its survey of 6,500 consumers in the U.S., 85 percent of consumers have provided feedback with only 46 percent of those believing any action was taken as a result.
"Our research proves that consumers really do want to provide feedback and engage in conversations with brands," said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. "But at the same time, they are clearly disappointed by not having any visibility into what happens afterwards. Feedback remains a one-way street and what consumers are yearning for is two-way dialogue. They want to know that their feedback is being acted upon in ways that will drive meaningful changes to the customer experience at the locations they frequent."
For those retailers who take an action, there is a reward: 83 percent of consumers told Empathica that they are more loyal to a brand when they say action has been taken based on their feedback.
"Unfortunately, a lot of retailers fail at creating the transparency that customers desire. Admitting some areas of the business require more attention builds credibility and helps retailers realize the huge potential for brand advocacy," said Dr. Edwards. "There are large numbers of customers out there who are motivated to provide feedback for the brand. The challenge is identifying them and making it easy to share their experiences not only with the brand, but also with other local consumers."
What grade would you give the retail industry as a whole for responding to consumers' suggestions?