Survey Blues at Mariano's Grocery Store

Before my purchases were scanned at Mariano's in Vernon Hills, I handed the check-out person about 9 coupons to be applied to my bill. Several moments later, I was distracted by assisting the bagger with getting my groceries in safely so my attention had been diverted. After getting home and putting away the groceries, I examined the receipt and noticed my coupons had not been applied. How should this be handled?


I was going to call the store but then I noticed Mariano's (Kroger.com) provided an optional survey listed on the bottom of the sales receipt. Therefore, instead of calling the store, I completed that survey knowing that I could provide feedback to the company about my experience.


In this instance, I completed the survey for two reasons. One, it’s interesting to review the structure and length of the survey. Two, I submitted roughly $10 worth of coupons and noticed they were not taken off my total grocery bill.


Just to be clear, over the years, I’ve completed and studied the design of surveys so that knowledge and experience provide me with a comfort level when evaluating this and most other surveys.


I went to Kroger.com to complete the survey. Before beginning, I had to meet certain identifiable information. This included a specific code, total price, and shopping date and time. Fair enough.



At the beginning of the survey, the length of this survey was not specified. Was it three questions or 15? Would it take 2 minutes or 10 minutes to complete the survey? For most busy people, the survey length will help determine whether the survey is completed. To be transparent, this was a longer variety. Regardless of the length, I wanted to provide feedback about my coupon experience.


One more question about the length, if the survey is long and will take 10-15 minutes to complete, do the survey sponsors know the success rate will be very low? It's critical to gain customer feedback but indeed it's a balancing act, too long a survey may be a missed opportunity.


If a shopper had no questions or issues about the bill or condition of the store, why would many shoppers complete this survey? I’m guessing that a small percentage of people would go ahead and do so if they are pleasantly satisfied with their grocery shopping experience. However, if a shopper had a negative experience, they're much more motivated to have their voice heard.


As I completed the survey, there were many questions where I didn’t have an opinion – I don’t necessarily know about the freshness of the deli department. In addition, I don't really pay attention to how different grocery items are displayed throughout the store. In such a situation, my response to many of the questions would be (NA = not applicable).


Another critique of this particular survey involves demographic questions. Those completing the survey may be put off by asking about one's education level or the amount of family income. You're not forced to answer but even still, these questions can be construed as an invasion of privacy. Even if survey takers complete these sections, how do those survey sponsors know the survey is always being answered in an honest way? Additionally, I'm a regular shopper there so they have a lot of information already at their disposal.



Speaking more broadly, I’ve completed surveys where the first question will be the only option to provide written feedback. In other words, if you are unaware and skip over that, thinking you’ll provide input later, you’re out of luck. To be thorough, the survey should be designed to provide written feedback at the end. To be fully transparent, this phenomenon did not occur with Mariano's survey.


One last thing, when you complete a survey for a company, you don’t know how they’ll accept the information. How does one know if company A will take your input seriously? Just because clients can provide feedback doesn’t mean that feedback will be taken seriously. Is the necessary feedback sent to the correct department that has the ability to review and possibly make the necessary changes? Those are questions that I'm just not in a position to answer.


Addendum: A local store representative from Mariano's contacted me several days after completing the survey to address my issue. After providing a "rough estimate" of the items that qualify for coupons, I was given a $10 gift certificate for later purchasing. Even though their survey may need some work, I was appreciative of the store's quick and appropriate response.




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