Macy’s Store Closings: 4 Valuable Lessons for Retailers

Posted on September 7, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Much has been written about Macy’s brand struggles and its 100 store closures ahead of the 2016 holiday season. Among the observations being made:


These are all fair points (although none of these issues is beyond Macy’s power to change; we’ve argued as much here, here, and here).

Here’s the real question, from our point of view:

What did Macy’s know, and when did the brand know it?

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Omnichannel, Customer Satisfaction, Retail, retail innovation

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, Omnichannel, Brand Experience, Retail, Security

7 Reasons Why Traditional Retailers Are Struggling to Survive

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Chris Petersen Ph.DComments


Traditional retailers' legacy of store success is their biggest challenge

One only needs to look at the headlines to see that many retailers are struggling. Let's clarify that … a large number of traditional retailers are struggling to grow profitably. In addition to bankrupt retailers like Sports Authority, many others are closing stores. Yet, the "Beast from Seattle" continues to thrive … posting double digit year over year growth, and now even quarterly profits. Why is Amazon so successful while even the best traditional retailers struggling? Many retailers need to take a hard look in a mirror to examine their historical baggage of the past and their failures to adapt to today's rapidly changing consumers.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience

How to Get the Most Out of Your Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Posted on August 24, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


Over the past year, there’s been a lot of industry chatter about customer satisfaction surveys (CSATs). Some argue that the CSAT is dead. As a tool for engaging customers and improving the customer experience, it’s no longer valuable.

We disagree. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of CSAT’s death are greatly exaggerated.

It’s true that “survey fatigue” is real. And it’s a big problem for retailers. Consumers are bombarded with requests to fill out a survey, but few feel inclined to take the necessary steps.

The problem, however, isn’t the CSAT method. It’s improper design and execution. Wherever best practices aren’t followed, response rates are abysmally low. That, or retailers aren’t sure what to make of the feedback. Or what to do in response.

All of which render CSATs virtually useless.

Here’s why CSATs are still essential for managing the customer experience—and how to achieve meaningful results through your CSAT program.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction

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

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

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, Brand Experience, Retail, 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, 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

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

Customer Experience Update