Customer Intercepts: A good Tool For Retailers?

Have you ever been asked to provide feedback on your shopping experience at the mall? By a real human that is? Chances are you took part in an intercept survey.
Why Customer Intercept Can Be A Great Tool For Retailers… Despite Its Limitations


An intercept survey is a research method used to gather on-site feedback from an audience. They are used at events, restaurants, conferences, and of course at shopping centers to collect customer feedback. During an intercept survey, the interviewer approaches a person to ask about his or her experience at a given facility. Interviewers may ask multiple choice, dichotomous, rank order, and rating questions. The qualitative data can include open-ended questions related to emotions, attitudes, and opinions.


While this feedback method comes with limitations and may appear archaic in comparison to recent marketing technologies, many market researchers agree that intercept surveys can be beneficial to retailers. Let’s explore the main pros and cons of such an approach.

Intercepts: Some clear benefits

Unlike other survey methodology, intercepts can collect feedback about an experience when it’s still fresh in memory. Even a retailer or an attraction park operator that would email his customers after each visit could not get its customers to answer as quickly after they leave. By interviewing customers on-site, or when they are walking out the door, we can collect much more detail. Your clients will probably remember exactly what they bought, how much they spent, how long they waited in line and so on. While they will likely remember the most frustrating (as well as the most rewarding) aspect of their experience for a while, intercepts are the best methodology for collecting a detailed account of a particular experience.


Another advantage of the intercept is the high response rates achieved through this methodology, which comes from the face-to-face nature of the in-person interview survey. Unlike with paper and online questionnaires, customers are more likely to answer live questions about a product or service because they can actually see, touch, feel or even taste the subject.


Furthermore, open-ended questions are better tolerated through live interviews due to the fact that respondents are more comfortable answering long answers orally rather than in writing. Furthermore, participants who find that a question (or answer) is not clear can request help from the interviewer.

Intercepts: non-negligible drawbacks

Shopping centres and other retail facilities may be demographically skewed to reflect certain demographic profiles, for example: “young, female, suburban, middle-income, frequent shoppers”. Intercept research relies heavily on convenience sampling (data collection from population members who are conveniently available to participate in a study).


Since the selection itself is biased, inaccuracies are likely to occur and results cannot be generalized to larger populations. As a result, intercepts aren’t the best ways to measure accurately customer satisfaction, even though they are superior to other methodologies when it comes to collecting accurate customer feedback.


While intercepts are usually performed in order to improve customer experience, answering a series of questions while standing in the middle of a mall is not always comfortable.

While intercepts can’t replace a traditional survey, they can still provide a lot of value if done right. The main reason why they not more popular is their high cost. Face-to-face interview surveys are typically more expensive than paper-and-pencil questionnaire surveys as well as online surveys, whether sent out by email or performed through social media by firms like POTLOC.


They are not usually time-limited, hence the gathering of data from respondents can take a longer time. There is also a need to travel and meet respondents at specific or various locations which carries an additional cost.

The intercept survey methodology is not for every retailer. However, it can be beneficial to those looking to gather extensive feedback in a raw and direct manner.