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  • lisaallanson

The Real Cost of the Silent Customer

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

When we talk about customer experience measurement, often we’re referring to customers who have purchased from your business – those who left with a product or service and who felt motivated to share their feedback, whether this be good or bad. In most instances feedback is facilitated by after sales email questionnaires, ‘Smiley’ in-store or e-reviews, rating platforms or similar. And while not every customer will engage (in fact the data tells us that most will not), you will gain some insights into what it felt like to do business with you.

With the growth of social sharing and online reviews there is no doubt that measuring the customer experience post purchase is going to give you some good hard data, even when it’s not representative of the masses. You will quickly be able to determine customer advocacy and NPS scores, and get a solid read on your raving fans, versus fence sitters, versus detractors. All of this is great information to have at your fingertips. Whether they love, hate or are indifferent to you, you’ll get a heads up on what you’re doing well and where you need to improve.

But what about customers who simply left before they purchased? Customers who for whatever reason were not inspired to stay or motivated to purchase. What are you not hearing that could be fundamental to your business? Typically a customer who is not inspired to stay or purchase, has either not been persuaded that your product or service will solve their problem, or you failed to acknowledge or connect with them in the first place.

Either way, this boils down to the in-store behavior of your team members - are they friendly, are they making the experience personal, are they making the experience easy, do they know their ‘stuff’, and are they confident enough to ask for a sale? All of this is the action behind the experience, and it can be costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales opportunities.

Imagine if you could measure IWO like you measure NPS or customer advocacy. What is IWO you ask? Quite simply it's the ‘I Walked Out’ metric and it gives you real time, actionable data and qualitative feedback on why a customer chose not to spend money with you. How radical is that? Even better, its available now. All you have to do is start talking to customers who didn’t purchase, not just those that did.

The reality is that the customers you never hear from, who have never spent money with you, who walked out of or away from your business, are your greatest source of information. They are the people who can tell you exactly why they we not motivated to do business with you. So how do you capture their feedback?

Well there are a couple of strategies. You can conduct Exit Interviews outside your brick and mortar locations, doing face-to-face interviews with customers as they leave, and simply ask them why they didn’t purchase. The pros are that you will get real time, live data on the customer experience, and can track variances in the experience by day of the week, time of day etc. The cons are that this can be time consuming, could be perceived by customers as bothersome, is more confronting than an online review, and may not provide completely honest feedback.

You can also look to Mystery Shopping as a means of objective data gathering. Mystery shopping provides you with a pool of motivated shoppers who are genuinely interested in your business, who are trained to observe the customer experience, and who can provide an accurate account of what it looked and felt like to do business with you.

Contrary to popular opinion, mystery shoppers are not financially motivated to catch you out or trip you up. There is no incentive for shoppers to submit a report to that depicts a substandard customer experience. They are however, experts in observation and have a keen eye for detail. If you really want to get an objective perspective of your customer experience, based on the behaviors that YOU deem to be important for your customers and your business, Mystery Shopping is a great strategy.

Best of all Mystery Shopping provides you with both quantitative and qualitative data so you can align results with other business metrics – sales performance, promotional activity, basket size, upselling etc. It also provides valuable insights into employee behaviour and where to best direct your learning and development efforts.

What’s more, we know that what gets measured gets done. It’s that simple. So if you really want to drive behavior change - measure it, communicate results, then measure it again. When there is a targeted focus on specific elements of the customer experience i.e. the welcome, the interaction, product knowledge, aligning features and benefits with customer needs etc. you can be sure to see a lift in the overall experience. Best of all you have the opportunity to convert your IWO customers to raving fans.

Remember, if you want the real picture of how you’re performing you can’t just ask the customers who bought from you. You have to ask all your customers. And….“When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better.” Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”

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