by Missy Koefod
Customer Experience: It’s so important; the phrase has become a buzzword. However, like most buzzwords, the phrase customer experience is often thrown around without much meaning behind it. However, in the age of infinite choice, it is customer experience that is going to set retailers apart and create a satisfied customer who not only spends more, but also comes back again and again.
Here are a few proven ways to create a memorable customer experience:
Retail as Hospitality
At our store, 18.21, we treat every guest who enters our store like a guest in our home. You want to make them feel welcome and comfortable. We greet each customer as soon as they walk in, and guide him or her through their entire purchase. Leaving the customer alone can cost your business. Eighty percent of customers never return to businesses due to perceived indifference from staff and one hundred percent of customers want a friendly greeting.
We also make an effort to get to know our customers. We deal in the cocktail world so we like to talk to them about favorite drinks or about whether they have a special event coming up where they’d like to serve a specialty-crafted cocktail. In your business, focus on something personal that relates to what you sell or a service you offer. Not only will you put the customer at ease, you will also fill a need and create a happy and satisfied customer.
Educate and Have Fun
If our goal is to educate our customers instead of just sell to our customers, they are happier and more likely to shop with us again. When a customer walks into our store, we try to impart one piece of knowledge that they did not have when they entered. Perhaps the customer doesn’t know what goes into an old fashioned cocktail. We teach them so that they leave feeling excited.
If we have a customer well versed in what we do, we try to leave them with knowledge about an upcoming event or a new local store or restaurant we think they would like. We want them to leave feeling we provided them with something of value, in addition to whatever they’ve purchased.
Focus on the Individual
We want to turn our customers into friends because friends come back. When you make people the focus of your company, your employees and customers will leave feeling more fulfilled, which translates to loyalty and a more robust business. If you get the experience right, you will sell more products.
Once retailers start treating their customers as friends, they will start to see a rise in sales and customer loyalty, and a reduction in customer acquisition costs. There is no better advertising than when someone’s brother, mother or best friend suggests that their friend patronize your shop. They will carry you through the slow months and spread the word about your business better than any Instagram or Facebook post ever has. It is easy to lose sight of how important people are in our technology-driven world, but focus on people and watch your business thrive.
Make it Easy
Customers are surrounded by choice and limiting their choices isn’t good business. For example, at one time we did not accept American Express Cards – something our customers repeatedly asked us to change. Once we started accepting all cards, we realized that providing a great customer experience is also about giving our customers choice and making it as convenient as possible for them to use their preferred method of payment. Our customers are happy to accrue miles with every purchase, and we are happy to accommodate them.
Find simple ways to say yes to customers more. If you make it seamless, they will remember and return.
Be the Frontline
Get out from behind the sales desk to regularly greet your customers. As an owner or manager, you are the face of the business. Don’t let other people define your customer experience; set the example for your employees.
Look back to why you started your business or why you decided to sell the products that you do. Share this story with your customers. Giving them a behind-the-scenes story helps humanize your business and build a connection with your customers. Use these service tips to craft an above and beyond experience, and your customers will be sure to not only return – but also tell their friends.