The customer feedback loop: using feedback to optimise the retail environment


Retailers can optimise the retail environment by using a customer feedback loop, says PayPoint

Benefits of a happy customer base

Customers are the most valuable asset of every business, particularly in the retail environment where maintaining strong and positive relationships is important for these key reasons:

  1. It’s costly to acquire new customers so cultivating long-term relationships will save businesses cash in the long run. 
  2. Happy customers come back! Through providing a good service each time, retailers have a much greater chance of customers returning without any prompting. Without this loyalty running a business would feel like a continuous uphill struggle.
  3. Happy customers also become advocates, spreading the word online or in person

Customer expectations are increasing at a rapid pace – so much so that today’s consumer environment has been cited as the age of the “reasonably unreasonables”. It means customers are much more likely to cut their losses and switch to a competitor if they’re anything less than happy with the service they are receiving. On the flip side, there is also a culture among consumers for being fiercely loyal towards their favourite brands. Clearly, there are both opportunities and pitfalls. 

What should a customer feedback loop look like?

These can range from simple to complicated but most business owners would agree on these basic steps in this order: Listen; adapt; assess – which in turn should lead to an improvement in your customer offering.

How do you listen to your customers? The most obvious way to approach this is with some form of survey, which can fall into the following categories: transactional surveys i.e. immediately following the transaction (via email or written form); periodic surveys in which case they are directed to customers on a regular basis; and, lastly, online or in-app surveys, which allow customers to visit and leave their comments at any time.

Listening to your customers on social media

In addition to this there is of course social media, which customers are increasingly using to speak to their service providers. While it may be trickier to manage, it’s important to keep in touch with customer interaction on social media and manage any comments accordingly. Providing one-to-one direct feedback to customers on their comments also ensures that they feel that they have been heard, which is vital, especially when you may not be able to act on their feedback immediately. There are numerous social media tools which can help businesses to keep a handle on the comments they receive across their social media platforms, such as Sprout Social and Conversocial, some of which can also provide analysis on engagement and positivity levels. 

As well as verbal or written feedback, there is also feedback to be found in transaction data. Having the latest in EPoS technology, such as the PayPoint One platform, means that retailers can easily access data on what services and products their customers are and are not buying and identify trends. PayPoint One can also compile this data with that of the other services it provides via its partnerships with over 500 organisations, from utilities to transport operators and mobile networks to local authorities – providing broader insight into the customers who are visiting their stores.

It can be daunting to implement a customer feedback loop but starting with one feedback channel and implementing small test-and-learn experiments can be very insightful and enable retailers to remain agile in a highly competitive environment. 

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(A Retail Times’ sponsored article)