A positive customer experience doesn’t always lead to a sale but is much more likely to get the till ringing than a negative customer experience. But what does that experience consist of and how can a retailer consistently deliver the same experience across its estate?
Much of what constitutes a customer experience is not tangible and is subjective. The customer will visit a store with preconceived ideas informed by the brand and influenced by friends and it is the retailer task to at least match those expectations to ensure a positive customer experience. Of course, in an ideal world the retailer will exceed those expectations.
Customer experience can be online as well as in store and naturally the online experience is consistent for all customers, whereas the in store experience will be subject to many variables like which member of staff was working, product availability and in store standards.
This is the challenge for retailers, commoditising the experience such that it is replicable across any number of stores and the customer’s experience in that store is the same regardless of which day a customer visits or which branch.
To make the retail experience replicable it needs to be tangible, objective and clear so that interpretation is not necessary or possible.
Staff training, for instance, provides a consistent standard that employees must deliver against, at junior and senior levels. This can include everything from staff dress code to how a customer is greeted, and at senior levels how these standards are maintained on a daily basis.
Processes enable the customer experience to be commoditised, both those that are customer facing and back office. How a store is laid out, use of POS, how returns are managed are all a reflection of the brand and come together to inform an overall impression of the store. Behind the scenes, how stock is managed, when breaks are taken, or simply how staff are motivated all have an impact on the customer’s experience and can all be documented and integrated into the culture of the brand.
These aspects of retailing aren’t sexy, they are not as exciting as touch screens and virtual changing rooms, but they are the backbone of a positive customer experience. Without them, all the bells and whistles are simply wasted.
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