Retailers’ budgets are shrinking and competition on the high street and internet is fiercer than ever, but what if there was a way to use existing technology to forge stronger relationships with customers?
A fast and simple system developed by new tech disruptor TruRating allows stores to collect valuable insight in the split second it takes to tap a keypad button.
TruRating enables retailers to make more of their card payment terminals by turning them into mystery shopping tools for the technology age. While they wait to pay, customers are asked to rate an element of their shopping experience on a score of zero (awful) to nine (amazing).
Not only does it allow stores to gather vital information about customers’ likes and dislikes, it also gives shoppers the satisfaction of knowing their opinions have been heard, but without the hassle of answering questions and filling in forms through a traditional market research survey.
It becomes part of the shopping experience and makes the most of the payment device, seamlessly turning a simple transaction into a two-way dialogue.
Only one question is asked per transaction, from a rotating set. Five are standard core questions common to companies across the sector, rating service, experience, value for money, product range and whether they would recommend the store.
In addition, retailers can ask their own customised questions to probe particular issues. This can be literally anything from the perception of their window display to the friendliness of the staff or even the type of music being played.
While the concept is simple, the “little but often approach” provides a sophisticated databank that includes time of purchase and the transaction value, and therefore the unique capability to link each rating to product information, promotions and discounts, staffing, the type of payment and loyalty. For the first time, businesses can link sentiment to spending right at the point of purchase and track just how much more happy customers spend.
Stores can benchmark themselves against the competition and measure sales and satisfaction against the time of the day, day of the week, staff rosters, different branches, and the impact of promotions and changes in operations.
Customers’ ratings and competitors’ scores are collected anonymously and aggregated, and within hours of the data being captured can be viewed by users on a dashboard, delivered online or via mobile.
Founder and chief executive Georgina Nelson says: “Our system allows you to hear the opinions from the majority of your customers in a fair and unbiased way, so you can trust the scores they give and the information you can draw from it.”
As the service expands, companies and individual outlets will be able to display their ratings on a profile page as TruRating develops into an international customer recommendations site. The disruptor is set to challenge existing platforms such as TripAdvisor and Yelp thanks to the volume and validity of their customer ratings, with an average 88 per cent consumer response rate to date.
Ms Nelson adds: “The advantage of our site is that it is honest and representative, and there is no false user-generated content, so there can be no untrue reviews, whether that’s an undeserving five-star rating or an unfair bad review.”
Launched in 2013, and headquartered in London, the company has already collected more than four million ratings through its existing operations in the UK, Ireland and Australia. It is at various stages of talks with all the major payment service providers and this year has begun to roll out in the United States and Canada.
The system has been developed to work in stores, but it can also be used online, allowing users to measure the performance of shops against their online sales, and providing an important weapon in the armoury of retailers as they look to find the most profitable approach in an increasingly online world.
Many of TruRating’s existing clients come from the hospitality sector, from which retailers can learn valuable lessons about how the warmth of service and staff motivation are critical.
The advantage of our site is that it is honest and representative, and there is no false user-generated content
“Shoppers don’t just want a product, they want an experience, a bit more bang for their buck,” Ms Nelson says. “And retail is not a sprint, it’s a marathon where you must continually tweak and adjust elements of your performance to meet customer expectations and brand perceptions. Every little bit counts.
“We are able to gather mass opinions, rather than one or two random views a day. The data points might be more succinct, but they are ongoing and offer the whole picture rather than sporadic feedback.”
Using TruRating, one Australian retailer discovered an opportunity to bring in an extra $440,000 in annual revenue if they could just change customer perception that their value for money was poor. Management acted fast, leaving prices as they were, but introducing a staff training initiative that encouraged employees to focus on benefit-led selling rather than feature-led promotion. And it worked. The retailer saw a 4 per cent increase in customer value ratings and a steady increase in spend over the test period by an average 11 per cent week on week.
TruRating says businesses typically hear from less than 1 per cent of customers and that for every one complaint there are 26 silent but unhappy customers. Its statistics show that one in ten retail customers are disappointed with the service they have received; a significant lost-revenue opportunity, given happy customers spend on average 10 per cent more than unhappy customers.
Ms Nelson says: “One of the main advantages we have is the sheer number of customers we enable retailers to hear from at a comparable price to conventional market research which generally will cover only a few.”
What begins with a single question at a routine stage of the shopping process provides valuable feedback and the opening of a dialogue between shop and customer.
Through TruRating, existing transaction hardware becomes an avenue for communicating with customers, making other feedback channels obsolete. A little button offers a big opportunity to turn a second-long action into a long-term relationship with a big impact on the business.
For more information please visit www.trurating.com