The most important question to ask in retail

 Source: Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images North America

Source: Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images North America

"People have to walk through the store to get to my office, so if someone's come in here for an interview, I will ask them, 'What didn't you like?'"

- MIchael Gould, CEO Bloomingdale's

 

"WHAT DID YOU LIKE, WHAT DIDN'T YOU LIKE?"

These are not only the most common questions we hear (and ask) in retail, but they are together the most important.  Retail is a business, but what is primary to our results is our customer's perception of us, of our stores.  

 

There are few retailers who will ask "What didn't you like?" directly to their customer.  The reasons vary, from not wanting to highlight anything negative to lack of resources to take a 'meaningful' feedback sample.  Sometimes its difficult for customers, who don't speak retail, to articulate that which is off-putting - customers may simply recognize that they didn't enjoy something.  While we would argue that feedback from even one customer (usually taken informally from a sales person) is valuable, there is another avenue for these questions. 

 

Whether its an employee coming for a corporate job interview, as is the context Michael Gould mentions it, or a sales rep or colleague meeting up with you, these two questions are one of the best ways to solicit honest feedback.  Corporate teams (buyers, marketers) are often too close to the product and strategies to objectively see what the customer sees in-store.  

 

"What did you like" will help you to identify what stood out positively about your in-store experience.  If you can successfully determine WHY it worked, doing more may be a prudent business decision.  "What you didn't like"  is equally as important.  

 

Objectivity and perspective are the hardest things to maintain, particularly in an industry where we are all passionate and invested in the results.  To seek feedback on the execution of your strategy, buy, merchandising or marketing is one of the easiest and effective things you can do to improve your performance - and your customer's experience.  

 


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