Today I am excited to share with you a guest post by Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender.
Each year we hold consumer focus groups to hear what they have to say about the in-store experience.
It isn’t always good.
Customers say that sometimes shopping is just too much of a hassle. They say stores are hard to shop, that they can’t find what they came in to buy, and they can never find a knowledgeable associate when they need one. They’re time-starved and stressed-out and they prefer to shop in store’s that are fun and easy-to-shop. Here are three things you can implement right away to improve the customer experience in your store:
- Become a customer advocate
It’s no longer just customer service; the bar has been raised to advocacy.
Customer advocates make time to understand how customers think and feel. They look at the sales floor, policies, and the overall store experience as customers, not as retailers. Advocates watch what customers do in their stores, where they go, and how they shop the aisles, making changes as needed. Advocates own the customer’s problem. If a customer has an issue that only a manufacturer can solve, they work on behalf of the customer, supplying information and guidance. And they follow-up to ensure that the customer’s issue has been taken care of in a timely manner.
- Help shoppers feel at home in your store
Remember the theme song from the television show Cheers? “Sometimes you want to go where everyone knows your name, and they’re always glad you came”? That goes for your customers, too.
How many times have you entered a store only to be ignored by the people who work there? Be honest. How often does this happen in your store? Customer service in some stores is so bad there’s is a perception that personalized service no longer exists. We know that’s not true, but it when it happens often enough the perception becomes reality.
You need written customer service standards that everyone working in the store must consistently follow. A cashier’s job is not just ringing the sale, it’s also sincerely greeting shoppers and inviting them to return and shop with you again. This is also the perfect time to offer a subscription to your store newsletter, a bounce-back coupon, class schedule, or membership to your loyalty club.
Store associates need to greet, or at the very minimum, smile, at every, single shopper they encounter on the sales floor. Just offering your hand and introducing yourself creates a bond – challenge everyone to introduce themselves to at least five new customers each week.
- Ask the Big Question™
We love this question so much we share it in every presentation: “What ONE thing could we do to ______________?” You fill in the blank.
“What ONE thing could we do to improve our customer service?” or “What ONE thing could we add to make it easier to shop with us?” or “What ONE class or event could we add that you would like to attend?”
The Big Question™ forces customers to put thought into their answers – you’ll hear constructive things that you will be able to easily implement. Don’t be surprised if many shoppers share a variation on the same theme – that’s a good thing! If it’s positive, you have one more thing to brag about, and if it’s negative, then you know just what to fix.
These three simple strategies will go a long way in helping shoppers feel comfortable in your store. Remember, the relationship you have with your customers is like any other relationship; it’s based on trust, coupled with your ability to interpret, meet, and even exceed their changing needs.
The “Big Question™” is a trademark of KIZER & BENDER
Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional speakers, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place.
KIZER & BENDER are contributors to MSNBC’s television program Your Business. They made Meetings & Conventions Magazine’s list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers, have been named two of Retailing’s Most Influential People, are listed among the Top 50 Retail Influencers, and the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers. Their Retail Adventures blog was named the Top Retail Blog by PR Newswire Media. And with good reason: Rich and Georganne are experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and promotion, and everything retail. They are widely referred to as consumer anthropologists because they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today’s consumer.
Any speaker can talk about consumers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine; and maybe even a few that you can’t. The result of their research is literally straight from the mouth of the consumer: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers.
KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. These include, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Las Vegas Review Journal, NBC, CBS, WGN, ABC, MSNBC, National Public Radio (NPR), The Voice of America, AARP, and National Retail Federation publications. Their books “Visual Merchandising & Store Design: How to Set Your Sales Floor to Sell”, “Digital Marketing: Essential Strategies for a Noisy World”, “BRANDING!”, and “Jingle Bells…Christmas Sells: Events, Promotions & Tips for the Holiday Season!” have helped thousands of retailers improve their bottom line. Their by-lined column, Georganne & Rich on the Road is a two time winner of the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) Award of Excellence.
KIZER & BENDER are married – just not to each other! 2015 marks their 25th year as a speaking team. Their presentations blend brilliant content with colorful examples, humor, and insight. You’ll learn while you laugh! And you’ll come away with inspiration, ideas, strategies, tactics, tips and techniques you can use the second you return to your business!