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Combine Feedback & Promotions to Keep ’em Shopping


I recently visited a JC Penney store to do some holiday shopping and learned about their pin promotion. When I made a purchase, I was given a couple of pins. I was instructed to go home, enter the codes online and see if I was an instant winner. I was also given a small card that included the URL and instructions.


While this is a spin off of traditional promotions to keep customers returning to the store, similar to the Kohl’s promotion where you get a $10 voucher for a future purchase, it got me thinking of a way to incorporate “in the moment” customer feedback with promotions – a good way to get feedback while consumers are in your store while creating promotion excitement and possibly getting more sales.


Now, I do realize that the delayed promotion tactic is often used to get people to return to the store at a later date, and, for people like myself, to offer a promotion that may never be redeemed. I will admit that I can be awful about remembering to return to Kohl’s to redeem my $10 card. That’s my own fault, but I know I’m not alone.


However, studies continually show that customer feedback response rates have dropped over time, and encouraging consumers to provide feedback is getting more difficult through the traditional means. Incorporating feedback & promotions may be something worth trying.


In a previous post I discussed the “in the moment” real time feedback services that are now becoming available. Essentially, it offers consumers the ability to answer a simple question or two about their experience while it’s fresh in their minds and they’re in that moment of time. With the technology behind this, it is  possible to incorporate a way for these consoles to be set up within stores during promotions such as JC Penney’s so that a consumer can get the best of both worlds. Imagine this…


1. A customer makes a purchase and receives their pins. They can be instructed to enter the code on the Penney’s site OR they can be directed to the in-store option that lets them find out if they’re a winner right away. True, some will check the codes on their phone or may just leave and check in later, but I imagine some will think, “I could win a gift card right now. I was thinking about buying that sweater – if I win, maybe I will get it after all.”


2. The customer goes to the feedback console and answers two questions about the experience they’ve had so far. Once they answer those questions, they are taken to the code redemption site so they can enter their code and find out if they’ve won.


3. If they did win a prize, they could redeem it right then and there, and it would allow the customer to use it immediately, without a delay.


So what just happened here? There are a few positive takeaways, even if only a percentage of customers actually go through this process and don’t leave the store right away:


1. You’ve created excitement about the promotion, and answering one or two quick questions won’t be bothersome to most customers.


2. You’ve gotten feedback from people you may not have. Of course, if a customer has a bad experience, they may not be so excited to see if they’ve won a gift card to do more shopping, but you never know. If the employee mentions that they can leave feedback and check the code, they may wander over to the feedback console simply to leave feedback.


3. You’re giving customers the chance to win instantly and redeem right away. In my case, my phone battery was low so I didn’t want to go online with it to drain the battery just to see if I won. If I had a way to check my codes and found I was a winner, I would have likely browsed a bit longer, just because I was in the store, it’s not close to my house, and I wasn’t sure when I’d have the chance to go back. It would possibly get another sale out of me, and this could be true of other customers.


With all of the technology that is readily available, it’s wise for companies to start thinking of how they can combine their efforts to make the most of the experience. Think of it from the company and consumer standpoint, and be creative. We have the tools at our disposal – thinking a bit outside the box may pay off in the long run.




Mystery Shopping During The Holidays?


It’s interesting to see how companies use mystery shopping programs, and how they adjust their schedule of shops during certain times. We are into one very interesting period of the year – the holiday season – where companies are mixed on ideas for their mystery shopping programs.


We’ve seen some companies opt to reduce their programs during the holiday shopping season, citing that customer traffic is much higher, and they want to focus on holiday traffic and not have mystery shoppers “take up” time that can be spent with true customers.


Interesting concept, and in a way I can see the point. For example, we would never send shoppers into retail venues on Black Friday, unless it was requested by the client. This is a completely non-typical shopping day, and any results gained at that time would not be truly reflective of service standards (possibly).


However, there are other retail and restaurant clients that actually increase frequency during the holiday shopping season. Their thinking is that this is when the bulk of their sales come into play, and with all of the competition out there, they have to be on top of their game. Mystery shopping is used to measure their service levels, and they watch reports very carefully and make adjustments as needed to ensure that holiday shoppers keep coming back to them.


With that said though, I do see value in adjusting frequency based on typical consumer traffic. Park districts, for example, tend to be busier in the summer months and, for those with fitness center options, at the start of every new year when people are making resolutions to lose weight or become more fit. There are lulls in traffic patters during slower times of the year, and mystery shopping programs are reduced slightly, not only to keep costs down, but to mirror customer traffic.


Another example is based on performance. Some businesses, especially with several locations, may employ a performance based schedule. For example, if a  particular location scores over a specific percentage for several months in a row, their frequency will decrease. Conversely, locations who score under a specific percentage will receive a follow up shop within two weeks, or their frequency will increase.


Companies need to consider the benefits of the mystery shopping results when determining frequency of their program. We are always a slave to budgets, but mystery shopping programs have great value and can actually save money in the long run.


Customer Feedback Case Study: “Wrong Answers” Change Consumer Perception


When customers provide feedback about your company, you have a great opportunity to listen, acknowledge, and engage with that customer. As we know, this can build loyalty, positive word of mouth, and increased satisfaction levels.


It’s important to remember your audience when a customer comes to you with feedback or questions, though, and gauge your response carefully.


Hasbro found this out the hard way. A six year old girl was playing a popular board game, Guess Who? and noticed that there were more male characters than female. She wanted to know why, so her mom drafted an email to the company based on her daughter’s question.


Hasbro responded; however, the response was not geared toward a six year old:


Dear R___, 
Thank you for your email. Please find below an explanation which I hope your mummy will be able to explain to you. 

Guess Who? is a guessing game based on a numerical equation.  If you take a look at the characters in the game, you will notice that there are five of any given characteristics.  The idea of the game is, that by process of elimination, you narrow down who it isn’t, thus determining who it is.  The game is not weighted in favour of any particular character, male or female.

Another aspect of the game is to draw attention away from using gender or ethnicity as the focal point, and to concentrate on those things that we all have in common, rather than focus on our differences. 

We hope this information is of help to you. 

May we thank you for contacting Hasbro and if we can be of any further assistance, either now or in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Kind Regards,


This isn’t something a six year old would understand. When the mother of this child responded to Hasbro, she explained just that, and added that as a 37 year-old she wasn’t entirely clear from Hasbro’s response.


The mother then shared this experience on her blog and in her social media venues. Here’s where things were getting interesting and could have potentially gotten much worse had Hasbro not responded again….


When the mother shared this experience, people took Hasbro’s response as a gender bias, and people started talking about Hasbro not showing gender equality, only defining females based on their gender, and not knowing how to talk to kids.


Yikes. Pretty harsh perceptions based on an experience. Those perceptions, while likely not the case as Hasbro’s response didn’t suggest these ideas at all, are a good example of how consumers can run with a (false) statement and hurt a company’s reputation.


Unfortunately, word of mouth can spread quickly, and even if it’s a false claim, if that’s how a consumer is perceiving your brand, they will talk about it as truth. You can see how this could have gotten much worse.


Thankfully, Hasbro responded a second time to the mother, this time in a much more child-friendly version:


Dear R____, We agree that girls are equally as important as boys and want both boys and girls to have fun playing our games. When you play the Guess Who? game, you have the same chance of winning the game whether you picked a card with boy or a card with a girl. 

We love your suggestion of adding more female characters to the game and we are certainly considering it for the future. In the meantime, you will be pleased to know that we have additional character sheets that we can send out to you in the post if you ask your mum to send us your postal address. Alternatively, you can visit  to download and print additional character sheets so you can have lots of different fun people`s faces to choose from. You will be happy to know that our downloadable sports character sheet includes an equal number of boys and girls.

We hope your mum does not throw out your Guess Who game!


Now THAT’S a great response! Not only does it speak to the six year old on her level, but it makes her feel valued, as Hasbro suggested that they will consider her suggestions. And, it gave her a value added bonus of being given a link to create her own character sheets.


If Hasbro would have responded that way in the beginning, it could have circumvented the brief misperception and negative word of mouth.


Lessons learned?


1. Show your personality: stay away from canned and/or technical responses. Simply address the concern, in your own words, and use personality when responding.


2. Remember your audience: know your consumer base and how to talk to different age groups. Hasbro likely has similar emails from children based on their industry; know how to respond to the younger consumer in their “own language.”


3. Your words may been seen by the world: you never know when something you say in response to a customer inquiry/concern will be spread online, especially these days. Keep it professional and respond with the thought that your words may be seen by many others. You should always want to keep a positive imagine of your company in your correspondence, no matter what you’re doing, but like they say with social media “Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the newspaper.”