The semantic differential tool gives insight into a subject’s perception of a particular topic or product. Reviews produced by the tool are especially helpful to the company in question because of the accuracy of the resulting opinions. Each reviewer ranks the company based on their tendencies toward two polar opposite emotions. In this way the scale yields an ordinal ranking of opinions, although the middle rank may also be thought of as indifferent. When the middle point is seen as indifference the scale can take a numerical value with each point away from the center representing a positive or negative unit of value. The semantic differential may also be used, with minor adjustments, to compare products such as how Apple is compared to Lenovo, or chart changes in opinion over time. In this case I used the tool to draw opinions about one company only and looked at the results as an ordinal ranking of consumer opinion, so that the middle position represented an adequate result rather than indifference.
The review above was conducted for a CVS drugstore in a small shopping mall area with a few other shops sharing a communal parking area. CVS scored high results in almost all categories, with only two categories scoring below the median or indecisive marker. I selected the categories for the tool in order to get reviews on both the personnel at the store, as well as the stores structure and operation. A wide range on subjects for customer review yielded the most information for the company to analyze and improve upon in the future. The cleanliness of the store is a combination of employee attentiveness and store layout. CVS scored a solid mark here, meaning that customers generally approved of the store’s tidiness and layout. A clustered store is more difficult to clean, and uneven shelving practices may give the store a messy look. Store cleanliness could thus be bolstered by improved shelving methods, as well as additional cleaning by the staff. Since the reviews were positive for cleanliness the store may return to the subject after more pressing issues are attended to.
Likewise, the personable nature of the stores staff received a solid review. Customers perceived the staff to be more friendly than unfriendly, although there was still room for improvement in this category. Time spent in interaction with the customer affects this category, as brief points of contact offer less time for the customer to formulate their opinions on the matter. CVS and other drugstores do not require much staff interaction apart from the checkout procedure. Although scores were only slightly above average, a slight improvement to customer service is all that is necessary for this particular store type. Product pricing received very favorable reviews, which is a big plus for CVS. Prices are a large draw for consumer activity, and although the prices are hard to change directly, positive reviews for a category give the company insight into where to focus efforts. Maintaining the categories that were reviewed positively will maintain the stores overall perception in the consumers mind. Parking convenience received solid reviews as well. The stores shared parking area would be an issue for any future changes, so improvements to parking need only be investigated after other categories have received the necessary attention.
Wait time received the poorest reviews out of all of the selected categories. The store in question only had one register, which likely lead to customer traffic jams during high volume times of the day. The most obvious way to alleviate the issue is to add a second register that would open during periods of congestion, or whenever store managers saw fit. Adding a second register may cause problems with store space. If store expansion is not an option, the company may consider converting the customer service area into a second checkout location when necessary. The store could also attempt to restructure the layout of the resister area in an attempt to fit two checkout points into the same amount of space. Regardless of the end result, CVS should focus on checkout congestion and non-violation of folkways in order to bring their worst category to an acceptable level.
Product selection suffers from many of the same issues when looking for solutions, as store size can cause serious roadblocks. Variety was the second worst category in terms of customer reviews and should thus be the second most important item to improve. Shelf space may not be being used in the most efficient manner. A quick analysis of shelving structure will give insight into whether or not additional store space is necessary to improve product selection. The company may further investigate the exact meaning of product selection, in order to ascertain if it is a general lack of selection, or a specific absence of high-end products. Such information will help CVS choose the right improvements to maximize their costs to positive change ratio. Since both of the most poorly reviewed categories have to do with store size the company should seriously consider a minor store expansion. Although there would be additional cost considerations and analyses of any possible increases in customer purchases, these actions are warranted considering the current reviews of said topics. Lastly, the store received excellent reviews for its hours of operation. With the necessity of changes to the store’s checkout procedures and product selection, it is best to leave hours of operation as is for the time being. A store expansion could prove costly if implemented and such action should be the focus for any additional company spending. Adding additional hours would be too taxing on the store’s budget and should be improved only after the more pressing issues have been resolved.
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