A retailer who wishes to survive and profit in today’s competitive and uncertain business landscape must be able to answer these fundamental questions:
What differentiates my store for the consumer in a meaningful way?
How do I become relevant in a consumer’s life and connect with her or him on an emotional and personal level?
In a high-tech, automated-everything world that continually accelerates information flow and time demands, how do I, as a retailer, create a rewarding, low-stress experience that delivers long-term value for my customer — and my business?
In order to differentiate yourself, you must focus on creating a satisfying and compelling shopping experience. We all know that customer service can truly make or break a sale. But what does customer service really mean to your consumer? In our research, we found that “service” really means “experience.” The entire shopping experience creates a powerful and lasting perception of whether or not a store has good customer service. Take the time to look at your competition and what your customer is looking for in a shopping experience and find specific ways you can stand out from the crowd. Do you offer an easier, low-stress delivery and installation policy? Talk about it! Are your salespeople trained not only on the products, but basic design and room layout? Talk about it! Most importantly, train your team to focus on the customer — not the transaction. This will allow you to go beyond the single sale and establish loyalty.
To maintain the relationship, you must “connect” with your customer on an emotional level. This requires retailers to truly understand their customer. Ask what brought them into the marketplace, into the store and what is important to them: Family? Time? The environment? Ask questions and seek information. Then use this knowledge to better serve them. Beyond selling a product or service, you must excel at merchandising and selling a relationship.
Creating a rewarding, low-stress experience that delivers value to your customers should be a “way of life” in your store — from the top down. Retailers should make the research and shopping process as simple and enjoyable as possible — from offering easy navigation of your Website to courteous interactions with your staff. Employees should feel empowered to engage with customers by interacting and connecting with them in their own unique way. The winning strategy is to turn your focus to your customer’s needs, and not yours. Talk to your customers to clearly understand what they want from a shopping experience, and then consider modifying your operations to exceed their expectations. And don’t let the relationship stall or, worse yet, end after the sale. Continue the dialogue by consistently communicating with them. Thank them with a phone call or handwritten note. Reaching out to your customers regularly with highly targeted messaging will keep you top of mind.
Companies that deliver memorable experiences on a consistent basis have customers that are delighted, inspired
and captivated. As a result, they earn loyalty, word-of-mouth endorsements, a high degree of consumer forgiveness and increased profitability.
Kathryn Baird and Kim Hiltachk of Torus Marketing provide consultation services and for clients such as BrandSource, as well as and many other companies and organizations over the past two decades. Contact [email protected], [email protected] or visit www.torusmarketing.com for more information.