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?

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

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?

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

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.

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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.

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

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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.)

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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.

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

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.

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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

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.

More importantly, it gives you a chance to shine when things go wrong. In the eyes of your customers, how you react to negative feedback is the truest measure of your brand.

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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

Thus, they see little return on their investment.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Retail

Customer Experience Update