The Problem with Receipt Surveys

You’re probably acquainted with this familiar scenario: As you quickly check out at a busy retail store, the sales associate hastily hands you your receipt and blurts out “Take our online survey and receive 10% off your next purchase” as you’re heading out the door. Well intentions abound in this method of survey deployment, yet it has a series of problems that don’t yet have a clear solution.

Get me out of here.

Consumers usually want to get through the checkout as quickly as possible. No one wants to be the bottleneck, so they hustle through the transaction with as much speed as possible, and brevity is the focus of the transaction. The average consumer is not focused on interactions with the clerk, unless necessary to to complete the transaction. In the consumers mind, the receipt survey is just an extra step in the transaction and only adds stress to the already rushed encounter.

Timing and Reciprocation.

An even bigger problem with this method is that the transaction at the register is at the apex of the value exchange.  At the register the customer has the products in hand, ready to pay the correct amount of money to complete the value exchange. Every transaction, monetary or verbal, is about value exchange and namely equal exchange. Our entire retention process is based on this principle. So in the customer’s mind, they begin to complete an equal transaction, money for goods, and it’s a satisfying and agreeable transaction. Then, businesses take advantage of the convenience of that value exchange by asking for more without a completed value exchange.  The problem lies in asking for more value from the customer before they have even walked out of the store. We call this process “reciprocation”, and when the customer is the last one to give in the value exchange, they are expecting to have the company reciprocate value back to them in the next step. That typically comes through the use of the products they just bought, but in this case, companies ask more of the customer before they’ve even had the opportunity to use the product they just paid for. It’s a flaw in the value exchange, and it causes customers to reject the addition to the value exchange with a certain distain.

The solution.

There’s not a clear-cut solution to this problem, other than the right application of technology or changing the position of the value exchange in the transaction.  In our example, we lay out the basis for why it’s positioned poorly in the value exchange story. The key to solving this problem is to move the value exchange to a different location in the story, or combine it all into one exchange. Having the survey be taken at the register, especially if its an automated checkout, could provide increased results. Additionally, every business has the signature pads at the register that could be used for a 4-5 question survey right at payment. Both of these would be simple, quick survey methods that could still be opted out of by the customer. Additionally, discounts could be taken right at the register for that transaction, not for a hopeful second one. This is what we would consider “combining” the value exchanges into one.

Overall, we understand the challenges faced with survey at point of sale, yet we feel there is still a lot of ground to be taken for a company that can match the value exchange perfectly. New North can help you address these types of customer experience problems, we have with many of our clients.


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