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Delivering the Best Customer Experience

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You can’t say it enough. Offering personalized customer experience is key in delivering retail sales and satisfaction. The world of brick-and-mortar is aware of this, but often the ability to improve on interaction and the will to do it are two different things.

The benefits of online shopping have been publicized before:

  • Variety and depth of assortment, offering millions of SKUs
  • In-stock availability vs. physical stores
  • Lower prices online
  • The ability to shop anywhere, anytime 24/7
  • Pre-printed return forms so you can return merchandise from your home

Stores are taking steps to counter these measures. The will do it appears to be forthcoming, as retailers are starting to offer a higher minimum wage and realize the competition for qualified workers is heating up.

Still, many stores are running in the opposite direction in trying to reduce labor costs, like eliminating commissioned sales people; hiring more part-time staff to reduce higher costs of full-time employees; reducing the number of associates on the floor; and reducing training time off the floor.

Treating store associates as a “cost center” vs. a viable asset that can be used to grow sales and profits is still foreign to some retailers.

Not everyone is a born salesman or people person. Some are better than others and stores need to have the ability to glean that segment of “people persons” from the rest of the pack, much like Apple does.

Sales staff needs to be engaged and trained based on interactive experience. Being able to visualize and feel the different experiences that customers feel are a tremendous advantage for associates.

The most important measurements of a store’s success are conversion and market basket attachment rates. It has been suggested by behavioral psychologist Chris Petersen that these should be measured at the associate and ticket level. More importantly, he says, “Each associate AND manager needs these key performance indicators on a performance scorecard with feedback on how to improve.”

Satisfied customers often define their best shopping experiences using three words: fast, convenient and personalized.

Timetrade Systems asked what impacted customer satisfaction, sales and loyalty the most. Their findings in surveying 1,000 consumers suggest that price is not always a motivating factor. 92% of those surveyed said they prefer more personalized customer experience, more helpful retail associates and faster customer service.

While most stores seem to know this, they’ve acknowledged that the top thing missing from the shopping experience they provide currently is personalized customer service.

But research from Motorola Solutions indicates that 85% of retailers cannot customize in-store visits for consumers.

The level of customization required is more than just personalized emails or greeting a customer when they come to the store. It’s making them feel valued, giving them undivided personal attention and quickly connecting and finding out what they need. With most retailers concentrating on showrooming, price matching and e-commerce, their attention is straying from developing and keeping happy, loyal customers.

Almost 75% of consumers surveyed feel they know more than retail employees. Timetrade’s survey showed that when customers received help from knowledgeable staff, sales increased by 25-50%.

Retailers can achieve efficiently run operations and superior customer service by redefining roles, understanding and assigning inside experts, restructuring the service operation and providing the right training and resources for sales associates to prosper.

When consumers can’t find what they want fast enough while in the store, 67% percent said they’d go online or use their mobile device
 for a more convenient, faster experience.

To combat showrooming, price matching and wait time, a retailer’s best defense it to quickly connect consumers with the best human resources to help them find what they need and buy it on the spot. Knowledgeable employees are the biggest untapped resource retailers can use to overcome the time-to-service gap, minimize the impact of showrooming, gain sales, and build customer loyalty.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, customer service,
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