Are You Ignoring the Greatest Revenue Driver in Retail?

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Here’s where many retailers are today:

  • They’re mired in the numbers.
  • They’re tightening their belts to maximize profits.
  • They’re using a variety of promotional tactics to boost traffic and conversions.

But all too often, when customers enter their stores, no one is available to help. The racks and shelves are in disarray. Customers are left alone, asked canned questions—Are you finding everything okay?—or bombarded with tone-deaf sales pitches. (We call this “retail assault.”)

The experience is worse than forgettable. Shoppers aren’t inspired to stick around or make additional purchases. In fact, many of them can’t wait to leave.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Customer Engagement

Take the Quiz: How Customer Centric Is Your Brand?

Posted on May 18, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


Many retailers claim to be customer centric. They’ll tout it in a quarterly statement or in the press. But words are meaningless if the brand experience doesn’t match.

Retailers that are customer centric demonstrate it on the sales floor every day. They provide a consistently great experience that revolves around the customer’s interests, behaviors (past, present, and future), and goals. Customers feel appreciated and special every time they engage with the brand.

How customer centric is your brand? Not just in spirit, but in reality?

Your responses to these five questions will reveal the answer.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Journey Mapping, Customer Service

Customer Experience Management: Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts

Posted on May 11, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Now that product and price are no longer the big differentiators in retail, managing the customer experience is crucial to staying competitive. It’s how leading brands become dominant, and how they stay on top.

Unfortunately, many retailers have the wrong idea about customer experience management. They see mystery shopping, customer satisfaction surveys, and customer intercepts as:

  • Service programs designed to encourage employees to be nicer to customers;
  • Tracking programs that run in the background; and/or
  • Simple solutions to complex problems.

Customer experience management is something else entirely. It’s specifically designed to: 1) ensure a consistent brand experience for all customers at all times; and 2) increase sales.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Omnichannel, Customer Satisfaction, Brand Experience, Retail, Sales

Guest Post: The Retail Revolution - It’s Not Just About the Customer Experience

Posted on May 9, 2016 by Martin MehalchinComments


I’ve been pointing out the trend toward blended physical/digital (“phygital”) retail experiences for several years now. The momentum around this continues to grow as born-online brands like Nasty Gal and Bonobos rush to open stores and established names like Bloomingdales and Nike focus on bringing digital into their physical stores. So far the focus has been around how these innovations impact the customer experience. However, as the trend takes hold, these are really business model innovations and it’s time to take notice how these new models impact operations and the retail employee experience.

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Topics: Customer Experience, In-Store Marketing

Marketing and Associate Training: The Yin and Yang of Customer Experience

Posted on May 4, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


Marketing and associate training are inextricably linked. They’re the yin and yang of customer experience.

Or at least they should be.

When you make a brand promise, you’re communicating values and priorities. You’re creating an expectation about what a relationship with your brand will entail. Consumers expect you to deliver 110 percent; they want to know your brand promise will hold across every channel, location, and experience.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Customer Engagement, Training

The Experts Weigh in: 4 Essentials of a Superior Customer Experience

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Retail is a tough business. The formula for delivering a great customer experience is complex and ever changing. There’s always something new to learn.

This week, we’ve compiled a list of outstanding posts written by leading CX experts. We’ve organized this list around four key components of the customer experience: corporate culture, the customer journey, associate training, and customer experience management. There’s a lot of great writing here, and plenty of great insights. We hope you find them interesting and valuable.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Intercepts, Customer Service

Get Serious About Your Customer Experience in 3 Steps

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments



Many retailers are stuck in a defensive crouch. They fixate on their comp sales ID, comparing today’s number with where it was a year ago. They’re focused on protecting what they have, and maybe getting a nice win this year.

It’s a dangerous way to live.

Foot traffic, on the whole, is in decline. Malls are dying; online retailers are booming. Today’s busy consumers prefer the easiest route to a purchase, often bypassing physical stores altogether.

To draw customers in, hook them, and get them to spend more over time, you must become a retail destination. 

Getting there will require two things: a bold new strategy, and near-perfect execution. Fail at one or both, and you may soon find yourself on the path to irrelevancy.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Retail

Guest Post: 5 Questions CMOs must now ask when “they don’t show up”

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Chris Petersen Ph.DComments


Marketers need to engage like they are throwing a party for friends

What if you held a really important event, and spent a lot of time and money on decorations and catering … and no one came? Well, maybe a few people showed up out of curiosity or for the food, but not the really important guests you were expecting. A really successful personal party or event is based upon dynamics of relationships. When you plan an important party you don't just drop invitations in the mail or a text … you follow up personally. In many ways, businesses are "throwing a party" and just blasting out anonymous invitations, ala mass media, in the expectation and hope that "they will come". The ultimate irony for CMOs in an omnichannel world is that more channels does not necessarily mean more traffic or sales. To change results will require new questions and behaviors in the marketing arena.

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Topics: Omnichannel, Retail, Customer Service

Why We Love Negative Customer Feedback (and Why You Should Too)

Posted on April 13, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Bill Gates famously said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Imagine if Gates hadn’t bothered to ask for feedback or address his customers’ concerns. Would Microsoft have become the iconic brand it is today?

Not by a long shot.

Asking customers about their experience with you, and doing something meaningful in response, is critical to staying competitive. It’s not only a diagnostic tool for improving service, but also a sign of caring and goodwill—and helps to avoid social media disaster.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Retail, Customer Service

Maximize Your Mystery Shopping ROI With This Simple Checklist

Posted on April 6, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments



Is your Mystery Shopping Program a waste of time?

This question might seem odd, coming from us. But it’s a crucial one.

Many retailers kick off mystery shopping programs with the best of intentions. They understand the unique importance and value of brand audits. They want to make their stores preferred destinations.

In the rush to execute, however, some retailers don’t fully consider:

  • Which aspects of the customer experience should be measured
  • How to present the program to in-store personnel
  • How to maintain the integrity of the program
  • How to use the data to improve the customer experience in meaningful ways

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Retail

Mastering Omnichannel: The 3 Keys to Success

Posted on March 24, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments

We have the technology. We can make the customer experience better than it was. Better, stronger, faster.

So why aren’t we?

We know consumers love the idea of a single shopping cart across all channels. They love being able to “click and collect” (aka BOPIS, or buy online, pickup in store). And they love the “endless aisle”—in-store kiosks or tablets that allow them to purchase products from a digital catalog and have them delivered the next day.

Consumers also love being in the loop. Beacon technology can deliver coupons and product announcements right to their smart devices in a very personalized way while they shop.

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Topics: Omnichannel

How Smart Suggestive Selling Can Help Starbucks (Re)build Loyalty

Posted on March 16, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


To make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs. Many retailers aren’t willing to brave the mess.

Starbucks clearly is.

Last year, thanks to the My Starbucks Rewards program, the coffee giant enjoyed unprecedented sales increases. In Q3 2015 alone, the coffee giant’s net revenues rose 18%, to $4.9 billion.

Last month, still riding high, Starbucks announced it would stop rewarding frequency of visits and start rewarding dollars spent.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Suggestive Selling

Guest Post: Easy Strategies to Develop Relationships with Your Customers

Posted on March 11, 2016 by Yvonne A. JonesComments


Who is Your Customer?

‘Who is your customer?’ may seem like a strange question to a business owner. But, do you really know who your customers are? If you have been in business for any length of time you may easily conclude that your customer is the person who buys from you, and you would not be wrong, but it would be an incomplete answer.

In today’s social world, it has become more important to avoid generalizations and get to know your customers on an individual basis so that you can meet their expectations and satisfy their needs. Granted, this can be done much more effectively by small businesses, yet large organizations can put customer relationship management (CRM) systems in place that help them identify their customers.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Are You Supporting Or Sabotaging Your Own Brand Experience?

Posted on March 9, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments

It’s hard to deliver an outstanding customer experience with one hand tied behind your back. Just ask any retail associate who bends over backwards to satisfy her employer’s unrealistic expectations. Over time, even the most determined employee will lose the will. And lose heart.

Unfortunately, this is where many retail associates find themselves: trapped in a dysfunctional system. Dispirited and dissatisfied. And retailers wonder why their customer satisfaction scores are so low.

Across the retail industry, turnover of frontline employees averages 100-115% annually. In effect, the entire in-store team is on the job for less than a year. Many retailers are resigned to this, and they plan accordingly. They don’t reflect on the causes, or the effects, of high employee turnover.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Suggestive Selling

Guest Post: The Winning Formula For Retail Stores In 5 Simple Letters

Posted on March 7, 2016 by Chris Petersen Ph.DComments


To master CX, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts

In our latest guest post, our colleague Chris Petersen explores commonalities of world-class customer centric organizations and what it takes to be considered among them.

The world of retail is not out of the woods in terms of recovering from worldwide economic declines. There are of course exceptions. Notably, ecommerce continues to grow at a double digit pace. Yet, 80+% of retail sales are still store based. What is interesting to watch is which retail chains are winning, and why. Radio Shack just went bankrupt. Target exited Canada, and Best Buy is closing Future Shop stores there. Yet, retailers like Apple continue to profitably grow and expand worldwide. The reality for retail store chains is that the old rules of retail are being rewritten by today's consumers. Future survival and success will depend not upon a sale today, but a winning formula for CX (Customer Experience) that creates relationships.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Retail

Customer Experience Update