How Does Apple Get Away With It?

Posted on September 14, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


Last week, Apple revealed what’s new and different about the iPhone 7. It’s water resistant, which is a plus. But it doesn’t have a headphone jack.

Come again?

That’s right. Apple just pulled another Crazy Ivan—a bold, surprising move the average retailer wouldn’t dare make. The company did what it always does, without fear or apology: It went full speed ahead, despite the temporary pain, because it sees something better for Apple users on the horizon.

As usual, the critics are weighing in. One called the removal of the headphone jack “user-hostile and stupid.”

But is there any doubt whose products many of them will continue to buy and use?

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Satisfaction, Journey Mapping, Brand Experience, Retail

Data Security for Retailers: How to Protect Your Customers and Your Brand

Posted on August 31, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


In the retail business, nothing is more important than keeping customers happy. Nothing, that is, except keeping them safe.

It’s every retailer’s worst nightmare: a data breach that leaves the brand’s reputation in tatters and destroys consumer trust. Just ask Target, whose 2013 data breach affecting 40 million customers led to a class-action lawsuit and a $39 million settlement.

As payment systems evolve, hackers only grow more sophisticated and determined. In 2014, there were 138 data breaches involving credit and debit card numbers. Last year, that number grew to 160, exposing nearly a million consumers to potential identity theft and fraud.

So what’s the answer (short of returning to the days of C.O.D. or taking credit card numbers by phone)?

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Security, Omnichannel, Retail

Retailers, Here’s What Store Managers Need From You

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments



They’re the essence of the brand. The director of backstage operations. The leader who brings out the best in every associate.

They’re retail store managers: the hardworking engines that (in an ideal world) keep stores humming and drive the customer experience, day in and day out.

Unfortunately, for many brands, great store managers are like unicorns—highly coveted and almost impossible to find.

It’s easy to blame a scarcity of talent. But in truth, many companies haven’t created the conditions for greatness. Store managers may lack the requisite knowledge or skills to begin with (reflecting a poor decision to hire or promote), or their employers aren’t giving them the tools and inspiration they need to reach their full potential.

Read More

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

Customer Experience Strategy (Part 2): 6 Steps to Happier Customers, Higher Revenues

Posted on August 10, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Last week, we wrote about building an effective customer experience strategy. This week, we tackle the hard part: execution.

To do it well, you need to understand who you are as a brand. Build a culture, and design a customer experience, around your brand personality and values.

From there, you need to know where you stand, where you’d like to be, and how to achieve your ideal. Not assume, not guess, but know. Everything depends on how well you track your progress.

Here, we’ll walk you through the six steps to meaningful change.

Read More

Topics: Customer Service, Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Retail, Mystery Shopping, Training, Brand Experience, Customer Engagement, Employee Engagement

Customer Experience Strategy: What to Include, and What to Avoid

Posted on August 3, 2016 by Kevin LeiferComments


If you’re serious about competing to win in retail, then you’re undoubtedly:

  • Focused on your customers (vs. quarterly numbers).
  • Invested in creating a unique brand experience.
  • Committed to ensuring your customer experience strategy serves as an effective guide for all your teams and executes like a dream.

Reread that last bullet. Ask yourself: Does our CX strategy meet these standards?

Many retailers assume their customer experience strategy is airtight. In reality, there may be costly gaps or missteps undermining their entire effort—and killing their chances of achieving significant revenue growth.

To avoid a similar fate, you need to know what to look for (and what to avoid) during the strategic planning process. These five areas, in particular, require careful consideration.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Retail, Omnichannel, Brand Experience

4 C-Level Obstacles to Your Customer Experience Goals (and How to Overcome Them)

Posted on July 27, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


If you’re struggling to meet your customer experience goals, you might assume the problem lies at the departmental, regional, or store level.

But more often than not, the problem originates in the C-suite.

It’s not for a lack of strategic planning. Most retailers understand the issues they face. They stay focused on their preferred KPIs. They set multiyear targets. Yet they can’t seem to get anywhere.

So what’s holding these retailers back?

Here are four of the most common obstacles we’ve encountered.

Read More

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

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, Customer Engagement, Retail, Training, Brand Experience

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

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

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, Brand Experience, Customer Experience

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

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

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.

Read More

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

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.

Read More

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

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.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Retail, Disruptors

Customer Experience Update