Cause Marketing From the Mouths of Kids

Last Friday I was a judge at my State’s DECA convention and a student suggested a way to track customer service that has real potential as a cause marketing overlay.

The case study that was given to the students I judged had to do with a chain of electronics superstores. In it the staff product knowledge was very high. Nonetheless, customer satisfaction was low because shoppers said they felt pressured to buy more than they needed or wanted.

DECA is a career and technical student organization for high school and college-aged young people. The organization hosts student competitions to help them improve their business acumen.

Almost all the kids I saw suggested more training for employees and so I pressed them a little. How would the company know if the training were paying off right now?

Almost all the kids I asked that question of suggested some kind of survey, but they were generally vague about how to conduct that it in a timely and effective fashion. Fair enough. I was asking high school kids to do college-level work.

One young woman, however, had an intriguing idea: poll customers at the end of the credit card transaction. The question would certainly need to be very straightforward: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the customer service you received today?” And it could only be one question. Any more and the survey itself would negatively affect customer’s opinions of the service they had received during their visit.

Most people pay with credit or debit cards these days, especially for high-ticket items. So using the credit card terminal wouldn’t exclude many people. In addition, the programming likely wouldn’t be onerous and the results could be basically instantaneous.

But the transaction would nonetheless be over before they were asked the question. How to induce customers to spend the 15 or 20 seconds it would take to answer the one-question survey?

The student didn’t suggest this, but as a cause marketer the answer came readily to me. The company ought to offer a donation to a favored cause.

So after you sign the terminal or enter your pin for a debit card transaction you’d get a follow-up screen that says: “Answer one question and we’ll make a $0.50 cent donation to the Food Bank. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the customer service you received today?”

Or, you could ask the 'Ultimate Question.' "Based on today's visit, how likely are you to recommend (company) to your friends on a scale of 1-10?"

Now, companies that do a lot of transactions per day or who do much of their business in rushes would be reluctant to try this. Delays of 15-20 seconds per customer would dramatically lengthen checkout lines.

I have two responses.

Firs. It would be no big deal to randomize the survey, so that not everyone got the chance to answer it. Likewise, you could run the survey only during hours when transactions were relatively light.

Second. If one or more of your associates is having a bad day and customers are bearing the brunt of it, wouldn’t it be better to know that on the day it’s happening rather than weeks after the fact?

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