Retailers who focus on the customer experience (CX) are making more money. According to a Gartner 2019 CX study, 75% of businesses show that customer satisfaction has a direct impact on revenue growth and increased retention. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company echo the importance of the CX in their research, showing that customers do not just buy products and services anymore. They want to buy into ideas and have positive experiences.

So how can retailers delight customers and create experiences they'll want to shout from the social media rooftops?

1) Have someone in charge of the customer experience

Gartner reports that "Organizations are committing to CX with stronger execution, dedicated leaders, and more money." Leaders with an eye on the overall CX strategy are required to monitor and manage activities to make sure they align with the CX being created.  

Once your store has established the experience they want to create for customers, a CXO, CCO, or equivalent manager needs to hold staff accountable and gauge what is working and what is not. These managers need to make use of customer data, surveys, and feedback from retail store associates to keep track of impact. 

When evaluating the customer experience, managers should ask:

  • Are customers rating the store high? 
  • Are activities helping customers buy more? 
  • Are customers promoting the store? 
  • Is the store retaining customers? 

Creating the retail store experience

There are many types of CX themes you can create. What you choose depends on what you sell, what resonates with your target customers, and what gives you results. 

Types of experience themes include: 

  • Future Experience - Customers view your store as offering cutting edge technology or services.
  • Luxury Experience - Customers reward themselves with your products or services.
  • Intimate experience - Customers view your store as an extension of their family.
  • Safety Experience - Customers feel safe with your products and services.
  • Status Experience - Customers find your offerings as part of a particular status symbol.
  • Sustainability Experience - Customers believe in your commitment to making communities and the world better.

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No matter the consumer experience you are trying to create, there are some key ways to help cultivate them.

Tap into communities online and IRL (in real life)
The customer experience you are committing to is, in a way, your store's brand. And that brand needs to be communicated. Find ways to connect with your store's local community that speaks to the customer experience. Then, promote these activities online through social media channels, events announcements, and even local news outlets where possible.  

For example, if you want customers to believe that you are sustainable, plan events that support that image: plant trees, run a recycle day, plan a clean-a-park event, and etc. Then follow up these activities with something customers can see when in-store and online. Advertise your brand.

Hosting in-store or out-in-the-field experiences allows your customers to engage and get to know your staff, personalizes your store, and, if done right, gives a lasting impression about the CX you are trying to create.

Tap into social sharing
According to Statista data, people have been steadily increasing the amount of time they spend on social media, with 2019 seeing the global average of nearly 2.5 hours per day spent on social media. That's an opportunity to tap into A LOT of potential customers. 

Inspire customers with photo ops in your store with creative or technologically innovative displays or even creative photo-ready backdrops. Have sales associates encourage photos, tagging, and sharing your store's social media and marketing efforts. Make it easy for it to occur to customers to talk about your store on their social channels.  

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2) Make Things Easy For Customers

Ease of buying - customers want options

The trends of buying online and picking up or browsing online and then heading to a store to buy have been with us for long enough now that customers expect these options. Customers seek these conveniences, which work for increasingly busy and non-traditional work and family lifestyles. Self-checkouts, easy returns for online purchasing, skipping long lines, and any accommodations that make shopping quick and painless once customers decide to buy goes a long way for repeat business.

Ease of Communication

Companies and marketing departments are being encouraged to move to a "channel-less customer experience" where businesses seamlessly communicate on any social media channels with customers. Forbes explains that customers increasingly want to reach out to businesses based on the social media channels they are used to using, even if a business doesn't use that particular channel. And if a customer cannot reach a business as they expect, this leads to a poor customer experience. Conversely, when customers can smoothly communicate via the channels they prefer, customer satisfaction increases.

Successfully achieving a channel-less experience means automating processes and making use of centralized hubs or platforms. Taking advantage of technology that automates and streamlines all communication into one channel for the store will lead to better and more consistent communication

3) Do not underestimate your retail store associates

Rude employees are the single complaint customers have according to the Retail Pain Index by Qualtrics. Bad customer service also ranked in the top three. And whether it's Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, or word of mouth, people like to complain when they feel slighted. People tell an average of 15 other people about a poor service experience. 

Driving Front Line Results: Rethinking The Role Of Store Associates

Customer Service Matters

According to an American Express survey:

  • 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.
  • 68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62% said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key.
  • 7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service.

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Creating Store Advocates

Creating store advocates really starts at the hiring and onboarding phase. Hiring managers need the tools to best isolate the personalities and aptitudes that can be molded into store advocates. 

Training, accountability, and motivation are a manager's ongoing tools to build store advocates. Store personnel need to understand more than just the features and benefits of products and services. They need to understand your customers and know how to create the CX your store is committing to. 

Store associates who create successful customer experiences:

  • Listen to customers, engage them, and know how to read body language
  • Create bonds with customers
  • Know your products/services well and can speak to what the customer in front of them needs to hear
  • Reach out on social media
  • Rally for your store 

We can help! 

SellPro maximizes the effectiveness of the number one advantage brick-and-mortar retailers have - the retail store associates. We connect vendors and retailers in a unique way that engages store personnel and creates strong brand and store advocates. Retail store associates are incentivized to take microlearning classes, attend live virtual events, and engage in communities to win contests and incentives. More than 150,000 store employees have downloaded the mobile app, and its use has resulted in four times ROI for SellPro's clients.

To learn more and experience how we can help, please request a demo below.

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Additional Resources:

Touch me, feel me: Creating Retail Experiences That Beat Online Shopping
Communication is Key: Planning the Return to Retail
Rethinking the Role of Store Associates To Drive Front Line Results
Ultimate Guide to Training Retail Employees