We Hold These (Retail) Truths to Be Self-Evident

Posted on July 20, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


Over the years, we’ve worked with all types of retail organizations. And we’ve gotten to know them well.

We’ve met the individuals who embody the brand promise.

We’ve encountered the typical roadblocks to improvement (i.e., a culture or infrastructure that’s resistant to change).

And we’ve seen internal progress radiate outward and reenergize the brand-customer relationship.

Of course, every company is unique. Considerations and challenges vary widely from one category to the next. But all retailers have one thing in common: They’re bound by certain universal laws.

We consider these four to be among the most important.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Retail, Customer Engagement, Training

7 Ways Brands Profit From Customer Experience Management Programs

Posted on July 13, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Why do leading brands manage their customer experience? Why the mystery shops, customer satisfaction surveys, and in-store customer interviews?

Forget “It’s nice to know how we’re doing.” These brands are laser-focused on the bottom line. They want to serve customers better so they can earn their loyalty and encourage them to spend more over time. When brands invest in gathering and analyzing customer experience data, they expect to see a significant return.

And believe me, they do.

Managing the customer experience has obvious benefits, of course. Customers know you care enough to ask for their feedback. And you can pinpoint sources of customer delight and dissatisfaction.

But there’s a lot more to it than that.

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Brand Experience, Customer Engagement

Guest Post: Long tail vs curation - Which wins the future of retail?

Posted on July 11, 2016 by Chris Petersen Ph.DComments


 The future of retail survival will require more precision than ever before


Most consumers simply don't think about retail models and strategies. In today's omnichannel world, consumer shopping is now any time and everywhere. But for retailers, the landscape has never been more challenging and competitive! Survival in the retail world is boiling down to increasing chasm two fundamental models: long tail and curation. Consumers really like unlimited choices, but also highly value specialty, service and personalization. The real question of retail survival is not who wins the sale of the product today, but who earns the right and loyalty of the customer relationship long term.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience

Why Your Omnichannel Experience Is Falling Short (and What to Do About It)

Posted on July 6, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


Before you can master the omnichannel experience, you need to measure it the right way. But many retailers aren’t. They’re relying on lagging indicators, like point-of-sale data and customer complaints, to gauge their performance.

This is no way to delight customers or distinguish brands!

It’s time to get out in front of this—to get definitive answers to these questions:

  • What is our typical customer experiencing across channels?
  • Are employees executing properly?
  • Is everything working as expected?
  • Are we making it easy?


There’s only one way to fully and accurately assess your omnichannel experience: You must map it and mystery shop it from start to finish.

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Omnichannel, Customer Engagement

Employee Engagement: Why You Need It, and How to Increase It

Posted on June 29, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments



Among the world’s leading brands, a top-down commitment to building and maintaining a customer-centric culture is priority one. But equally important is keeping an ear to the ground.

When was the last time you asked your employees for feedback?

Do you know how they feel about their jobs, the company as a whole, its policies and procedures, and its leadership?

Many retailers don’t realize how important this is. How cost effective it is. How helpful it is in getting a complete picture of the customer experience. And how much it matters to your associates on the front lines—the people you trust to represent your brand and to make your customers feel welcome, appreciated, and well served.

Read More

Topics: Brand Experience, Customer Service, Customer Engagement, Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement

Is Mystery Shopping Right for Your Business?

Posted on June 24, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Wherever they spend precious time and money, consumers want a satisfying customer experience. They want to feel special, cared for, and better off than they were before, across every channel and touchpoint. They’re emotionally invested in the outcome of their buying journey.

For businesses that seek to reward this investment, mystery shopping is an invaluable tool.

For decades, mystery shopping has been primarily associated with retail. But banks, financial services firms, medical facilities, hotels, restaurants, fitness clubs, and other customer-facing businesses recognize the importance and benefits of using objective data over time—gleaned in person, over the phone, and online—to study the customer experience and shape it with precision.

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Brand Experience

How a Leading Retailer Uses Mystery Shopping to Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


The Walking Company, a footwear retailer with 215+ locations nationally and brands such as ABEO, Dansko, Ecco and Ugg, is "The World’s Largest Specialty Retailer of Comfort Footwear".

It’s a product pitch with undeniable appeal. But according to Barry Weinstein, the company’s VP of Training, The Walking Company retail stores celebrate people, first and foremost.

This is why, in Barry’s view, managing the customer experience is such an important (and rewarding) investment. Not only is mystery shopping critical to measuring, studying, and improving the customer experience, but the program is “in direct line with” the company’s “core values.”

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Customer Engagement

Retail Customer Experience: How to Stop Competing Internally—and Start Competing to Win

Posted on June 8, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


If managing the customer experience were easy, every customer would be delighted. Every brand would enjoy rock-star status. Chart-busting revenue growth would be the industry norm.

But we live in the real world, where the CX ideal and the sales-floor reality are often miles apart. As are brands’ and their customers’ perceptions. While 80% of companies claim to deliver superior customer service, only 8% of customers agree.

Even worse, only 1% of customers say they experience consistently good service. (Ouch.)

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Services, In-Store Marketing, Retail, Customer Service, Customer Engagement

How to Survive (and Thrive) in the Age of Amazon

Posted on June 2, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


Three years after Amazon went online, and one year after it became a publicly traded company, Deep Impact (1998) premiered in theaters. The film depicted an E.L.E., or extinction-level event, befalling mankind. A huge meteor fell to earth and wreaked havoc. Many lives were destroyed.

Consider the parallels here.

Amazon’s explosion onto the scene has had a seismic impact on the retail industry. And the carnage continues, according to experts. The company is widely blamed for wiping out the dinosaurs (with chapter 11 filings continuing to mount) and for diminishing most of the brands that have managed to survive.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Omnichannel, In-Store Marketing, Customer Engagement

Guest Post: 5 Signs that you’re in a relationship with your retailer … or not

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Chris Petersen Ph.DComments


The most important "sale" made every day is building relationships

There is a classic phrase among my children that the relationship must be "real" when they post it on Facebook. Unfortunately, there is no Facebook for recording the status of retailer relationships with consumers. Far too many retailers blindly assume that they have a "relationship" with their customers. Times have changed. A traditional retailer loyalty card does not equal trust or a relationship. Today's omnichannel consumers have much higher expectations for personalized service before, during and after a purchase. Retailers would be well served to carefully analyze what consumers consider and value in a relationship.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Engagement

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

The phygital trend often serves to improve the customer experience by offering increased ease, simplicity and speed. Great examples include using the Starbucks app to not only pay for your coffee, but order it too; and being able to return items purchased on HauteLook to your nearest Nordstrom Rack location. On the other hand, there are times when the phygital experience is not necessarily a better experience. (I actually find the checkout process at Bonobos Guideshops to be clunky and it’s somehow unsatisfying to have to wait for pants in the mail when you just found and tried on the exact pair that you wanted).

Read More

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.

It’s up to your associates—the human face of your brand—to deliver on your brand promise. They make shoppers feel welcome (or not), help them make better and larger purchases (or not), and give them a reason to come back (or drive them into the arms of your competitors).

If your in-store teams aren’t fully on board with your branding and marketing campaigns, all the hard work you’re doing to bring shoppers in the door will be for naught.

Read More

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

Customer Experience Update