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What do visitors really think of your shop(ping) centre?

I can often see them from afar. Usually in pairs, with a tablet or clipboard in their hands. I automatically slow down and look around to see how I can escape them. 9 times out of 10, they are trying to sell me something: if not De Telegraaf, then it’s the NRC or a lottery that’s hard to get rid of. And then there are the enquirers… I usually walk past them at lightning speed, mumbling – without holding back – “no time, no time”.

How do you get shoppers to give their opinion on your store or shopping area?

Not just once or twice a year, but over a longer period of time. And, how do you avoid only being able to ask questions to people who are just dying for a chat?

“I don’t have time” is a common argument when people don’t feel like filling in a survey. However, in the meantime they have oftentimes already lost a few minutes of their time to argue their refusal. In that time, they could have easily answered 5 simple questions. And, five answers can already contain a lot of useful information.

There must be another way.

Let the people come to the questions, rather than the other way around!

People are naturally curious. Thus, if there is a station somewhere, equipped with a tablet, they often quickly look to see what is on the display. When you use an inviting first question, the temptation to clock on a smiley is high. This way, you have at least one question that was answered. Past experiences show, however, that 80% of people that answer the first question also answer the following questions.

Once the dam breaks, the flood comes

For answers to be reliable, it is important that the answers are as honest and unforced as possible. The chances of that are much greater without interferences from an interviewer or enquirer. For example, dare you tell someone that you go shopping every day during the pandemic? Or are you more likely to give the more desirable answer? With a column, no one is looking over your shoulder and people are more likely to give their honest opinion.

Of course, you can also have people fill in an online survey at home. This requires contact details. Many retailers already work with loyalty cards and regularly send their customers surveys. However, there are two disadvantages to this. Firstly, you only know what your customers think. But what about non-customers? What do they think of your offer and your store? A second disadvantage is the timing of the survey. When people receive their email, the moment of customer experience is no longer recent. Suppose you want to know what people think of the layout of the store or the shopping centre? It’s difficult to remember this, and answer the questions a few days later.

Just as with online or enquirers – you can ask questions to determine the ration men/women, the age structure and their postal code. An additional advantage of a survey station is that you are able to ask questions during a longer period of time, at a much lower cost than when using enquirers. Moreover, you can make adjustments in the interim. If, for example, you notice some unexpected answers, you can ask them about it.

Now that I have listed all the advantages, I am curious to see how I will react myself when I come across such a survey station. It’s difficult to give an unbiased opinion answer, but I would say it’s more likely that you will receive my (honest) opinion.

Astrid Custers

Astrid is Marketing Communication Manager at Locatus and thus comes into contact with lots of interesting information. As a result, she walks around the shopping streets with a certain degree of professional deformation – and writes about these observations…