August 10, 2016
Defining the Ultimate Customer Experience in Retail
By Mandy Hawkins
Imagine this scenario: your savvy customer has done their homework and found that you, their favorite retailer, has found a sweet deal online for a product they want, but they need to touch and experience this product before purchase.
They walk through your doors, marking the beginning of their quest, and trek with intention directly to the section of your store that should contain the item they desperately seek. They lap an aisle or two, and circle again, hoping that they’ve overlooked where the item has been placed.
This pursuit is beginning to feel like a search for the Holy Grail. They search for an associate, but can’t find one. They push the big red button on the locating device, and the red light signals for help like an S.O.S. signal. The associate that finally, and slowly, shuffles over isn’t familiar with that section of the store, repeats the same circle, and comes up empty-handed. They radio for help, which is to no avail.
Finally, someone has an answer but it’s not the one your customer wants: that great deal is only offered online. The customer leaves your store frustrated and empty-handed.
As brick and mortar retailers struggle against the power of the e-tailer, the customer experience is the most powerful force to determine who will gain customer attention and loyalty.
Here are our five suggestions for the ultimate customer experience.
1. Follow the Golden Rule
It seems obvious, but it’s worth remembering. Brick and mortar retailers are run by people. They’re shopped by people. All people want to be treated with respect, and they want to know someone cares about them.
If employees are treated well, the effect will trickle down to the customer. According to a recent Gallup Poll, only one-third of reporting employees admitted to being engaged at work. If the remaining two-thirds are disengaged, they are less likely to care about the customer experience.
2. It’s Not About the Product Price
As seen in the above example, product pricing is secondary to the customer experience. In fact, 70% of customers report that they are willing to pay more for a product because they receive excellent customer service. In a savvy society, it’s worth noting that the intrinsic value of a customer experience is priceless.
3. Learn to Really Communicate
Because products are secondary to the customer experience, doesn’t it make sense to learn to communicate with your audience? Customers want a place to be heard. By listening, brick and mortar retailers are actually helping themselves by learning how to create a better product, environment, and experience.
Smart companies will even reward their customers for their time. Utilizing the power of social media, brick and mortar retailers can passively hear what their customers are saying. However, active listening is more effective. When employees engage with their customers through a difficult circumstance, they build rapport. In fact 70% of those customers will return.
4. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
While most retailers turn to email to reach their customers, only 10% of customers are slightly more inclined to buy after viewing the ad. Because Birchbox offers their loyal customers an omnichannel approach to a personalized shopping experience, their happy customers can visit their brick and mortar locations to “learn, try, and buy.”
Because their customer’s preferences have already been established through their online channel, their in-store experience is highly personalized.
All customers want the royal treatment.
Brick and mortar retailers should be using all of that big data to serve up the best experience on a silver platter.
5. Be Crystal Clear with Your Customers
Because more than half of all customers are researching online before they purchase, it is important that they understand the limitations of each channel. This means that expectations and promises made by retailers, through all channels, should be easy to find.
Don’t expect customers to universally understand policy. Go out of your way to make it right. When customers know that they can find what they are looking for, and someone will invest in helping them when they can’t, they will return again and again.
The ultimate customer experience is attainable for brick and mortar retailers. It simply takes investing in the most important element: people.