Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Listening to feedback from your stores

Recent visits to stores had me wondering on the quality of communication between retail outlets and the folks in the brand HQ (headquarters ).

A gift store had shabby gift wrapping paper as the complimentary version. Even the gift papers for purchase were mediocre or suitable for teenagers at best. On giving feedback to the store in-charge he requested me to write to the company because "if we tell them they think we are making it up" .

A clothing store which had elegant gift wrapping paper said the paper was out of stock . Since I was a regular client they offering to buy paper from another store in the mall (the gift store referred above ) and pack the gift . Knowing that the gift store did not have any worthwhile options I declined the offer. On enquiring why the paper was out of stock the explanation was that HQ team have advised that new paper is being printed . Therefore the old stock was withdrawn . Why would a company withdraw the existing gift wrapping paper before delivering the new stock to the stores ? In the discussion it emerged that the store staff did not feel confident about giving such feedback to the HQ team.

The retail stores can provide valuable inputs to the company . Inputs that can enable greater customer satisfaction , repeat business , market share and profitability. Being responsive to the feedback and translating it into action across stores can (in several cases) mean fixing something before it becomes a chronic problem. Instead of listening to what the stores (in effect customers ) have to say companies spend millions on market research agencies to get feedback or indulge in guesswork (A prime example of this is the 'world's local bank' - a case study of 'dis-service')

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

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