Why you should listen to your customers

Written by Alli Price

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this but not so long ago Kmart nearly shut their doors.

Why? They were no longer making enough money to warrant staying open.

You’re probably not aware of this as, today, they are still trading.

Why? Because they listened to their customers.

how to get good customer feedback

Now I know this is not revolutionary but you would be surprised at the number of people who get so ‘head down, bum up’ in business they forget they even have a customer.

Then, when times get tough, instead of going back to basics they try all manner of tricky marketing, advertising, discounting to win back sales. Generally without ever having a conversation with a customer to see what they really want in the first place.

So, as far as I’m concerned, Kmart getting back to basics was revolutionary.

how to get good customer feedback

And what they learned was extremely interesting as I think a lot of mums in business are guilty of what Kmart found to be their flaws:

  1. Customers wanted reduced options! It turned out that too many products were turning them off and making it impossible to choose.
  2. They wanted easier navigation of the store and less clutter.
  3. They didn’t want sales all the time. It was annoying to buy a product and then find out it was reduced to 30% off the next day. They wanted value all year round and could simply come in and buy a product when needed.
  4. They wanted improved customer service.

I’m sure the answers aren’t that shocking as that’s probably what you or I would have fed back also but what this feedback allowed was for Kmart to take a completely new direction which gave them new life.

  1. The reduction in options of products meant they could buy greater volume of the remaining products, thereby reducing wholesale prices.
  2. The offer of great value all year round meant that even if they missed out on sales (a few times a year) they would probably gain sales the rest of the year as people would head to them to purchase at these times.
  3. The all-year value offer also now gives them a point of difference against their competitors. They don’t have to compete at sale time anymore.
  4. It gave Kmart a completely new focus on the customer – one that took them from seeing themselves no longer as a buying team, but as advocates for Australian families. This can now form the basis for all their marketing messages/social media and what a great message!

And how do I know all this? Kmart told me (and a room full of bloggers) to achieve their aim of being gimmick free and transparent. This is great for Kmart as families will be more likely to trust a big company who’s open with their aims for the business and they way they go about achieving them, and also great for you biz mums who can learn the lessons Kmart learned the hard way.

how to get good customer feedback

Airhockey Table $59 from Kmart

Cheers! Alli x

Giveaway: Win a $150 toy voucher from Kmart by popping a comment below in answer to this question by Sunday 21 July 2013: What is the best piece of advice a customer has given you about your business?

how to get good customer feedback

Big eye plush $3 from Kmart


how to get good customer feedback

Li’l Woodzeez Family Treehouse $69 from Kmart



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15 Responses to Why you should listen to your customers

  1. Melanie says:

    I was once told, a client doesn’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.
    That has always rung true for me as my job does involve quite a lot of information sharing and i would be so eager to please that I would give too much information!
    At the end of the day, my clients want to know that I do know my stuff but mainly that I care and will be there to support them if/when they need it.

    Guess that’s true of Kmart to a degree, as they showed the customer that they cared by actually listening to their wants & needs. A very interesting story indeed! :D

  2. Rebecca says:

    I am always looking for new ways to display at markets, with everything already packaged and me spending time pulling individual items out as asked, a customer mentioned about having some out and displayed so they can be touched, put on etc. something so close to what I was doing but overlooked. Next market will see displays that customers can touch and feel without me taking the time to open packages.

  3. Jodie says:

    Taking the time to talk to a customer even if they are just browsing makes a world of difference! they are more likely to come back to buy again when they have been treated right… I had a customer come back and buy all her family presents for Christmas once, she told me that every time she came in to have a look I treated her as if she had spent a lot of money!

  4. Karen L says:

    Pay attention to your customers because nothing makes you leave a shop quicker than an owner/salesperson who seems like they don’t care.

  5. Kelly Lakeman says:

    Always ask for feedback and take it on board being positive or negative there is always room for improvement!

  6. That it needs to be super easy to navigate through the website and check-out. When I first started it was very hard to get into my store from the main page and I didn’t even realise until someone told me!

  7. Narelle Rock says:

    Always greet your customer with a happy smile, a friendly manner and thank them for shopping with you.

  8. kim says:

    I work in a busy office and people come up to reception and let us know they are there and then have to wait. A customer came up after a long wait one day and said that they felt like they had been forgotten (they hadn’t), and that if we gave out numbers when they first came in, they know that they were going to be seen in order and that it is a way that we could also double check that no one had been forgotten. Very simple, and we implemented this and it works really well. I told the customer on their next visit that we had listened to her and changed things and she was very happy!

  9. Chrissy says:

    Great article Alli,
    You know what, I don’t ask my customer for feedback very often, so I can’t tell you. Don’t get me wrong I pay attention when it’s offered, but I haven’t made a point of asking! Sounds ridiculous, but when youre flying solo you can get swept up in the business and forget to work on it! Warning bells sounding loudly. Task for today, but out a sensible feedback strategy. Thanks Alli thanks Kmart.

  10. Janina Lear says:

    I have been running markets for years now and was putting my stallholders in new positions each time to make it exiting and mix it up. Turns out, they don’t want that. One of my lovely girls told me they like familiarity and unless requested would like the same position each time. Wow!!! such a small thing I had overlooked that now makes my job of doing a floor plan so much easier. My stallholders customers like to know where to find their favourites too.

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