Podium Survey Reveals 6 Surprising Reasons Customers Don’t Return To Local Retailers

July 01, 2018

iStock-696177958-robotEver written an email or text to a retail business and didn’t get an answer within a day?

Ever walked into a local business’ restroom and found it filthy?

Podium, a software company that helps businesses gain insights into their customers’ experiences, reported the results of a recent survey of 2,000 US consumers between the ages of 18-64.

The survey sought to discover why consumers do not return to local businesses. They found if a business was guilty of even one of the following, respondents would likely never go there again.

Here are the top six deal-killers:

  • 79% said if an employee lied to them about a product or service.
  • 70% said if an employee used foul language or was rude.
  • 46% said if the retail store had dirty restrooms.
  • 37% said if they left a message, and the retailer didn’t respond within a day.
  • 30% said if they emailed, and the business didn’t respond within a day.
  • 22% said if they texted, and the store didn’t respond within a day.

In fact, one in five respondents expected a local business to respond  within five minutes or they would move on to another business.

Surprised so far?

And if you’re courting Millennial shoppers (ages 18-34), know they have the highest communication expectations:

  • They were twice as likely to be more loyal to a business that offered social media communication for their customers.
  • They were nearly twice as likely to be more loyal to a business that offered SMS texting for their customers.

That means Millennials expect every store owner and manager to have their store’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps on their smartphones and set to immediate notifications. And they have to pay attention and respond to them quickly…very quickly.

It also means the store phone should be able to text both ways.

What else do customers want from their local businesses?

Nearly half of respondents want their local businesses to know them by name. That’s a level of familiarity most retailers would find daunting. Knowing a customer’s name takes more than just asking for a name at the counter. You will have to do more to engage their heart.

You have to train your employees to bond with each shopper so they want to give you their name in the first place.  And this level of customer service will require you to train your employees to look for clues to remember their name, not just that they are a regular.   

This survey proves there are few things more powerful than hearing our own name. It says I appreciate you.

On top of that, a real shocker is that about a third want to get offers by mail. Yes, you got it…by snail mail.

The good news is those who shop local want more engagement from their local businesses.

Here are the top five factors that would positively influence respondents to be more loyal to a local business:

  • 67% want the business to make it more convenient to be a repeat customer.
  • 60% want to be able to directly connect with a customer representative.
  • 47% want the local business to know their name.
  • 33% want to be able to chat online with a customer representative.
  • 28% still want to be reminded about special offers via mail.

And here is a reality check for local businesses…while respondents ranked phone calls high when it comes to creating loyalty… 84% admit they don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.

Then how do we combat this pet peeve of shoppers?

My suggestion is to train your employees after they’ve bonded and closed the sale to snap a picture of an item they were looking at but didn’t buy that day. Then get their number and text the picture to them while they’re at the counter. That way the customer has your number in their smartphone’s database.

Here’s the thing, none of this works if you do not have a solid retail sales strategy for exactly how you will engage a stranger, how you will build rapport, and how you will close that customer. Until that happens, you’ll probably take shoppers for granted without dealing with the issues that keep them from returning to your local business.

See also, Retail Shoppers' 50 Pet Peeves About Retail Employees

In Sum

I was surprised by these reasons shoppers don’t return to local retailers and I’m thinking you were too. 

But if you’re trying to compete with Amazon – and who isn’t – use this list of pet peeves from shoppers as another guide in upgrading your customer service.

Read More About Retail Sales Strategies 

Bob Phibbs, is the Retail Doctor; a speaker, author of 3 books and retail sales expert of choice for some of the most legendary retail brands including LEGO, Omega, and Hunter Douglas. With over 30 years’ experience beginning in the trenches of retail and extending to senior management positions, he has been a corporate officer, franchisor and entrepreneur. He and his work have appeared on Fox, MSNBC, PBS as well as in Entrepreneur, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is an American Express Global Merchant Advisor and listed as one of the top retail influencers in the world. Mr. Phibbs is a paid influencer by Podium.

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