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

The Deadliest Threat to Your Retail Brand (and What to Do About it)

Posted on March 2, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments



In last week’s post, we discussed Amazon’s new brick-and-mortar venture. What we didn’t mention was that in early 2015, Amazon approached RadioShack about taking over some of its stores.

Now there’s a stark contrast.

One of these brands continues to disrupt like a scrappy startup and dominate the retail industry. The other—in business for nearly a century—wobbled in place for years, seemingly clueless, while the world rushed by. Now, it’s a shell of its former self. Like the Walking Dead.

The message here for retailers?

Complacency kills.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Retail, Disruptors

Guest Post: Can’t Buy Me Love or Superior Customer Experience

Posted on February 29, 2016 by Gregory YankelovichComments


In our latest guest post, our colleague Gregory Yankelovich addresses the challenge some organizations face in executing incomplete customer experience programs as well as how some companies are inherently set up to slow or prevent action obtained through these programs.

Superior Customer Experience cannot be delivered without the well orchestrated cooperation of all departments of a company. Yet, this cooperation is very difficult to achieve. The primary reason for the existence of organizational silos is operational efficiency that allows companies to scale their growth. The opposite side of the coin is a lack of unified vision and, as a consequence, the inability to work toward a common goal. This problem has caused many calls for “breaking down the silos“, but I would like to discuss a more constructive approach. Revolutions rarely produce positive ROI for anybody, but their instigators.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service

What Amazon Can Learn From Apple’s Brick-and-Mortar Success

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments



Amazon is stepping out into the world. The real world.

In November 2015, the online retail giant opened its very first brick-and-mortar bookstore. Apart from the strength of its brand, there are two reasons Amazon is betting on the store’s success.

First, a growing number of consumers—particularly millennials—favor print books and the act of buying them in physical stores.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Omnichannel

Omnichannel and Customer Satisfaction: Are You Struggling to Move the Needle?

Posted on February 17, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


When it comes to the omnichannel customer experience, you can’t get by with “good enough.”

In fact, there’s no such thing. You’re either “excellent” (state of the art, seamless, satisfying), or you’re nowhere.

Every time a leading retailer leaps forward, consumer expectations rise. There is no prize for second place; no slack cut for lesser brands. Consumers know what’s possible. If your omnichannel experience is lagging, they’ll go elsewhere.

Proactive retailers embrace this reality. They’re not satisfied with meeting consumer expectations. They set out to redefine the brand experience.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Omnichannel, Customer Satisfaction

Attack of the Disruptor Brands: 5 Key Lessons for Retailers

Posted on February 9, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


They’re fierce. They’re hungry.

And they’re coming for you next.

Disruptor brands, that is. Scrappy startups turned consumer crazes. No one is safe; even the largest, most well-established retailers are running for their lives.

From Dollar Shave Club to Warby Parker to Birchbox, retail disruptors are taking advantage of the current industry landscape and redefining the retail customer experience. They’re challenging once dominant competitors to ramp up the pace of change. And more and more retailers are struggling to keep up.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Retail, Disruptors

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