Tools like Gartner’s Consumer COVID-19 Concerns Tracker help marketing and customer experience leaders observe the shifting and differing concerns of consumers as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most consistent patterns we see is the relatively high level of concern consumers have about in-store shopping. This concern consistently ranks within the top-10 to top-15 of all consumer concerns tracked by our survey tool.

Thus, retail marketing and customer experience leaders have an urgent task in front of them. While it has always been important to track customer expectations, it’s even more of a priority now. Maintaining a pulse on your customer’s perception of and response to your company’s COVID-19 protocols is absolutely critical.

7 Questions

I was reminded of the importance of this the other day. I had received a gift card for my birthday back in September and wanted shop in-store. For a technical, cold-weather product, this seemed better than trying to figure out fit, form, and feel online.

A day after completing the transaction I received a customer research survey from the retailer with which I had made the purchase. The entire survey took about five minutes to complete. Notably, the survey included seven questions that specifically addressed my perception of and satisfaction with the store’s management of COVID-19 protocols.

Here are the seven questions that were asked:

  • How concerned were you about making an in-person store visit given the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How comfortable were you overall with the safety of your experience?
  • What could we have done to make you feel more comfortable?

Questions 4 to 7 follow a similar phrasing. How satisfied were you with:

  • The availability of face masks for customers who needed them?
  • The proactive cleaning of commonly touched surfaces?
  • The available information regarding health and safety standards before visiting the store?
  • The store-practiced social distancing standards?

The Bottom line

US consumer outlook will likely remain sour (subscription required) well into 2021. Climbing COVID-19 case counts and snags in vaccine delivery will create further stress. Ultimately, many consumers will remain uncertain about activities that once felt normal, like in-store shopping.

For that reason, taking steps to boost customer confidence, especially among those who need to shop in-store, is absolutely necessary. But knowing what’s working and what’s not should not be left to guesswork. Instead, you should develop a customer research and survey plan that helps you spot weaknesses in and take action to strengthen your COVID-19 response.

This article is republished with permission of Gartner

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