Dissatisfied Consumers

Here’s something interesting for your Monday morning.  The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the Verde Group have released the results of a recent study called "Shoppers at Risk:  An annual Study of Retail Dissatisfaction".  1,000 consumers were polled who had made a retail purchase in the past month (and who hasn’t). 

The key conclusion was that consumers are more turned off by what the survey calls "Sales Associate Issues"  than by "Store Issues".  The top three complaints? 

  1. Not being able to get help when needed.
  2. Being ignored:  no smile, no ‘hello’, no eye contact
  3. Insensitivity to long check-out lines.

33% of respondents reported that they had the experience of not being able to find sales help when they needed it, making it the number one complaint.  According to the study, 6% of all shoppers are lost as a result of this problem.

Worse, 1/3 of shoppers who experience a problem will spread negative word-of-mouth.  Actually, this figure seems low.  But "Store Associate" problems are 50% more likely to generate negative comments than "Store Problems".  More of a concern is the fact that one out of two shoppers reports that they have chosen not to visit a particular store because they heard about someone else’s bad experience.

The good news from the study is that "Category Killer" or  big box stores have 17% more sales associate problems than the average retailer, while "Specialty Stores" have 15% fewer problems than average, making them the most problem-free of all retailers.

The study also identified four "types" of sales associates.  They are:

The Educator who knows the store’s products and will help shoppers find them
The Engager who’s available, friendly, and willing to help
The Expeditor who ensures a customer wastes little time when shopping or paying
The Authentic who shows a genuine interest in shoppers’ needs and preferences,
even at the expense of making a sale

Not surprisingly, the best associates combine the traits of all four types.  But, customers are most likely to be lost by the failure of associates to engage.

You can find the executive summary of the study here at no charge.  Or you can download the entire study here, but it will cost you $1,500!

Or you can just make sure that someone is always available to help your customers, that customers are never ignored, and that you’re sensitive to customers waiting in line.

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