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In retail, no news isn’t necessarily good news. When shoppers encounter bad customer service, the majority of them will silently drain away without ever letting you know there was a problem. While it varies by industry and product, American researchers have found only about 5-30% of unhappy customers will speak to staff about mistreatment, poor quality or incompetence, which are among the most damaging to customer loyalty. The rest of these unhappy clients will likely stop shopping with your business without raising their concerns.  Even when a customer does lodge a complaint, they primarily speak to a frontline staff member, and only a fraction will be passed on to a manager or head office.

With this silent majority simply vanishing as customers, it’s imperative for businesses to find ways to measure how customers feel about the service they receive without relying on complaints. These customers won’t give you the opportunity to solve their problem and win back their business, so gathering data to improve your customer experience, even when you aren’t receiving complaints, is critical.

Why don’t customers complain?

According to John Goodman, president of technical assistance research programs (TARP), there are four primary reasons that most customers don’t complain:

  1. It won’t do any good.
  2. It’s not worth the trouble.
  3. They don’t know where or how to complain.
  4. They are afraid of employee retribution.

Customer survey terminals can help to address some of these issues and engage the silent portion of your customers, giving you a more accurate view of how your business is performing.

Agora Opinion can be used to instantly survey customer service satisfaction

Survey buttons like these are displayed with a question about service or store cleanliness to collect customer feedback.

Prominently placed survey buttons allow customers to quickly and easily give you feedback on the service they received. This cuts down on the perception that giving feedback is a hassle, and provides an obvious outlet for those who don’t know how to express their dissatisfaction. The anonymous nature of these surveys also protects customers who worry about how a frontline employee will react. With about 20-30% of foot traffic pressing the buttons, these satisfaction terminals help give you a more complete picture of your customer experience so that you can act to improve it.

In the case of the Agora Opinion, threshold levels can also be set so that a store or area manager receives an alert when a certain number of negative button presses is reached. This allows the manager to act immediately when there is a dip in service levels.

This is a useful tool for area managers, who have to maintain service levels at multiple locations, but can’t always be on site. Staff are often on their best behaviour when this high-level manager makes a site visit, which can make it difficult to identify problems. Many use mystery shoppers to try to get around it, but this tactic provides only a small snapshot of the service in a store and doesn’t offer real-time information. When used together, mystery shopping and instant customer survey terminals can provide a more complete picture, while also providing real-time alerts when customer satisfaction begins to dip, allowing the manager to take immediate action.

I’m measuring customer service – now what?

Now that you have implemented ways to monitor your customer service in real-time, how do you improve it?

Satisfaction terminals allow you to see how your customers are feeling throughout the day. Is there a dip later in the day when the store needs to be tidied? Is there a dip at a certain time of day when there is more foot traffic and not enough staff to provide quick service? Comparing satisfaction levels to what’s going on in the store at that time can help you determine how to fix the issue.

However, the most important way to improve customer service is to hire the right people and give them the training and resources they need to succeed. According to The CX Company, which does an annual customer service report in Ireland, the most critical piece is to recruit, train and retain sincere and caring staff. However, even the friendliest and most empathetic employee will struggle to provide good customer service if they aren’t taught about the products, or are the only person trying to serve a dozen customers at a time.

KPMG Nunwood has laid out six pillars that leaders in customer experience consistently master:


Tailoring the experience to the individual’s needs and wants.


The degree to which a customer believes your company is trustworthy and is likely to act in the customer’s best interests.

 Time and effort

The ease or, on the flip side, difficulty of doing business with your company. Ensuring that shopping with you is quick and easy goes a long way to creating a great customer experience.


Whether it’s low prices, quick and easy service or a high-end atmosphere, your brand communications help your customers form expectations. Be aware of the expectations you’re setting and how you can meet and exceed them.


When things go wrong, how you solve the problem will greatly impact your customer’s experience and can make or break whether they will do business with you in future. Make problem solving simple and painless.


The companies that are most effective at building a great customer experience have employees that can put themselves in the customer’s shoes. Being able to understand a customer’s needs and frustrations goes a long way.

When you tweak your policies and training to better reflect the principles of the six pillars, you will be able to judge their effectiveness by monitoring the change in satisfaction on your survey terminals. This data can help you judge which strategies are working and where a more significant overhaul may be required.

By taking a proactive approach to measuring customer service and adapting strategies to improve the experience in your store, you help to prevent expensive customer churn and revenue loss.

VT Solutions helps companies use internet of things devices to improve efficiency, lower costs and add new revenue streams.

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