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Keeping a pulse on retail customer feedback with Heartbeat

Customer feedback is an essential qualitative data source that enables brands to understand the constantly evolving needs, wants and behaviors of consumers.  But keeping on top of customer feedback from survey open-ends, reviews, interviews and social media is often challenging for organizations with limited capacity to analyze it all. Relative Insight Heartbeat provides an efficient and scalable solution. 

Monitoring customer feedback over time with Relative Insight Heartbeat allows you to understand the impact of various internal and external factors on the customer experience without getting bogged down in unnecessary details. Simply group the words, topics and emotions you want to track into customizable themes before attaching the themes to your customer feedback data to create a Heartbeat chart. These easy to understand visualizations provide a top-level view of how the composition of your feedback is changing over time, allowing you to spot trends and opportunities for improvement. Charts can easily be updated with the latest data to provide continual insight into your customer experience. 

Tracking key themes in retailer customer feedback

To showcase how brands are using Heartbeat for customer feedback analysis, we defined four themes, each comprised of related words, to track across open-ended reviews of a leading US retailer. 

  • staff praise – helpful, amazing, excellent, friendly, awesome, knowledgeable, professional
  • staff issues – irresponsible, careless, negligent, useless, unprofessional, rude
  • delivery problems – defective, damage, error, driveway, street, damages, broken and missing
  • brand detractors – avoid, beware

Staff feedback

Retail staff are an integral component of the customer experience. To understand the impact they were having on customer reviews, we tracked staff-related feedback, specifically words relating to staff praise and staff complaints.

For both staff praise and complaints, no single month was significantly higher or lower than the rest during 2021. Instead, the chart demonstrates a rollercoaster of staff-related complaints with each high point being followed by a low. When we overlay staff praise and staff issues on our chart, we can see that the two themes – while both volatile – move in opposite directions. When complaints are high, praise is low and vice versa. This indicates that stores are responding to negative feedback with short-term fixes that are moving the needle in the short term but fail to drive sustained improvement in perceptions of staff. 

line chart showing changes in the prevalence of staff complaints in customer feedback for a retailer

Delivery problems

As retailers continue to shift their focus to e-commerce, we also wanted to understand the delivery experience.

Using Heartbeat to monitor the theme of delivery problems, we found complaints to be generally consistent throughout the year. Delivery problems was the most dominant of the themes we tracked, being mentioned in a high of 12% of feedback responses in August and December and a low of 9% in September and October. The fact that one in ten reviews cite delivery issues suggests that delivery is a persistent issue that is impacting the customer experience. The consistent rate of delivery complaints over the course of the year indicates initiatives to improve deliveries have yet to achieve the desired effects.

line chart showing changes in the discussion of delivery problems in customer reviews

Brand detractors

Delivery issues can impact overall brand perception and increase the prevalence of detractors – people who actively discourage others from engaging with a brand.

We tracked the words avoid and beware to keep a pulse on detractors and noticed spikes in August, December and January. The Heartbeat chart indicates the total proportion of reviews including any of the words associated with a particular theme. With this in mind, the winter spike is particularly concerning given the importance of the holiday season for retailers and the fact that 5% of responses during this time amounts to a much larger number of detractors than during slower periods.

The period between March and July shows a steady decrease in detractors, suggesting that the retailer was implementing policies that had a positive outcome among customers. Using Relative Insight Explore, we could further investigate this time period to pinpoint the specific reasons behind this improvement and develop best practices.

line chart showing the usage of detractor language over time in customer feedback

Continuous customer insights

As more data is collected, Heartbeat charts can easily be updated to track these themes on an ongoing basis and generate continuous insight into your customer experience. Doing so can help organizations articulate the impact of improvement initiatives and distinguish between structural issues and flashpoint problems.

Heartbeat is the latest addition to the Relative Insight text analysis platform. Get in touch or catch up with a recording of our launch webinar to learn more.

Track trends in customer feedback