Three strikes and you are out – Dissatisfied Customers drop retailers after only 3 negative experiences. 

A study by IBM®  Institute  of Business Value of 30,000 US consumers in September and November 2008  revealed that, on average, consumers will drop allegiance to retailers after an average of 3.1 negative experiences.  “Consumers from 18 to 24 years old have more patience – changing retailers after an  3.5 negative experiences. Consumers who are 65 and older aren’t as forgiving – changing after only 2.9 bad encounters.”  You can register to see the study or view a summary at 

 Market conditions and high expectations have made consumers more impatient.   As a retailer, do you know when you have created a negative experience for a customer?  To promote customer satisfaction, the IBM® Study identifies 8 key areas to look at.

1. Quality:  The IBM® study indicates that respondents  “require merchandise to exceed expectations and warrant trust based on attractiveness, brand attributes, reliability, consistency and reputation. In addition, products that are considered high quality meet safety and certification standards, and are guaranteed and trusted based on lifespan or freshness.”

2. Store Experience: Here are the customer satisfaction  factors in the IBM® study:  ” Ease of navigation, visual merchandising, fixtures, lighting, cleanliness, signage and product placement are critical attributes. Merchandise samples, workshops and dedicated space for entertainment and interaction can help increase the emotional connection with consumers.”

3. Convenience:  Customer satisfaction criteria in this category according to IBM®  included : “ease of access to a physical store based on location, hours and parking; the ability to quickly find and obtain products and prices; and efficiency of checkout, return, layaway and ordering transactions. ”

4. Product Availability:  A negative store experience is one where an expected product is not available, especially a promoted item. 

5. Assortment: Having the right assortment of merchandise, trendy items for those in that market, items consumers might not have thought they neededs or items that they identify with or even aspire to own, fit in this category.

6. Price/ Promotion: Consumers have always been  sensitive to price,  and more so, in today’s economic climate. The IBM® study substantiated this, especially if the consumer is shopping at a new retailer.

7. Customer Service:  Customer service comes in  2 flavors.  Assistance with the finding of products and understanding what their features and capabilities are. The second aspect is help with product problems, pricing problems, and issues that might take place at the checkout level.

8. Multichannel:  Increasingly retailers are offering internet based shopping. Here the factors to watch for are consistent brand and shopping experiences on line and in store. Search capabilities, product information and product availability (in stock or out of stock) are important considerations.

Retailers must stay focused on consistently delivering a superior experience for customers, in all important aspects to them. Three strikes and the customer is gone to your competitor.



IBM® is a registered trademark of IBM Corporation.




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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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