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Macy’s push poll

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

I recently made a purchase at the Macy’s here in Denver’s Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Everything was seamless and expected, including an overly cheery clerk at a cosmetics counter (the registers at the Men’s Store were all occupied).

But things went slightly south when, at the end of the transaction, the clerk urged me to fill out a survey that rated her performance. She openly told me that if she received high scores she would receive a $25 gift certificate to Macy’s. She presented me with a laminated sample of the survey that highlighted Overall Shopping Experience with a red X in the box for Outstanding (see picture).

Perhaps what I saw was the handiwork of a renegade store clerk and a laminating machine. Or maybe it was actually a store-issued program.

Whatever the case, it feels emblematic of a larger abuse of customer service “research” that is growing in line with consumers’ demand for high quality service.

Another example from my own experience is at the dealership where I get my car serviced. They must call me twice a month reminding me how much they are committed to my full satisfaction. Urging me to be on the lookout for a survey call in the future. Bludgeoning me with kindness.

Not only is the research that comes of these studies flawed, but it must have a boomerang effect for some shoppers.

So what’s going on here? Are political research’s infamous push polls leaking into the retail satisfaction space? Where’s a good brand cop when you need one?

I suspect it’s a natural byproduct of the separation of sales and
marketing. And the simple fact that these are large companies, and it’s no one’s explicit job to be the enforcer.

But it all serves as a warning to those brand stewards working the floor, manning the counter, making the sales calls, designing the online checkouts: Beware the blurry line between serving and selling.

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Research, Retail
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