What is Your Shopper Report Card?
Each year, the Retail Feedback Group conducts the Supermarket Experience Study to provide insights around how the industry is performing. As a result, we developed a report card based on what we call “core experience factors.” Simply put, these are key retailing fundamentals that every supermarket can check their performance against.
Looking at this year’s results, quality/freshness, store cleanliness and item variety/selection were the three highest-scoring attributes. On the other hand, associate availability was the lowest-scoring item, while value for money spent, associate helpfulness/knowledge, checkout speed/efficiency and associate friendliness/attitude were just somewhat higher.
What does this tells us? Clearly as a channel, we are not where we need to be on service. This is critical since our research indicates that excelling at customer service leads to much higher satisfaction ratings. For instance, consider the lowest rated item in our study: associate availability. When shoppers rate associate availability a “4” or “5” on a five-point scale, the overall average trip satisfaction registers at 4.55 versus 3.65 when shoppers rate associate availability a 1, 2 or 3.
But it goes well beyond associates just being available. Our research found that average trip satisfaction scores much higher when the shopper had a pleasant interaction with an employee (4.49 vs. 4.06), an associate provided service above and beyond expectations (4.58 vs. 4.22), an employee had food expertise to help the shopper select and prepare food (4.58 vs. 3.45) and the associate appeared to enjoy working at the store (4.58 vs. 3.42).
What do shoppers see as a pleasant interaction or exceptional service? Shoppers don’t expect rocket science, but rather assistance on the simple things. It might be as basic as going into the back to check for an item that is out at the shelf or helping a shopper select the right kind of meat for a meal they are preparing for their family.
And what about resolving customer concerns? We found that while just 6 percent of shoppers experienced a problem during a recent visit, nearly half (48 percent) of these shoppers talk to a store manager or employee about that problem, creating an opportunity to resolve the concern to satisfaction. On the other hand, 35 percent of shoppers that experienced a problem say nothing during the visit so intentional listening through other vehicles such as feedback programs, “contact us” forms on websites, and social media are also very important to help close the loop on problems.
One last observation from this year’s research – satisfaction declines on all of the core experience factors as the day progresses. So during some of our heaviest shopping times, we are performing at lower levels in these key areas, resulting in decreased overall satisfaction. So finding ways to strengthen all areas during our peak traffic periods, but especially in our service areas, could yield real results in terms of improved satisfaction and loyalty.
In the end, reflect on your stores and how you compare to the national core experience factor scores. And if your report card falls short, now is the time to take action!