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

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)?

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

Second, Amazon Kindle sales are in a slump. A brick-and-mortar store offers consumers the opportunity to try out the devices, with Amazon associates’ helpful input.

One store in Seattle is a novelty. It could easily become an attraction. But to take this concept nationwide? Talk about upping the ante.

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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

Guest Post: The Expanding Digital Divide Between Consumers And Retailers

Posted on February 2, 2016 by Chris Petersen Ph.DComments


Consumers want it all … but just how much can retailers deliver?

I'm fortunate to have an opportunity to travel to India next week to speak at the Omnichannel India Conclave. It is always a great learning opportunity to visit another country to discover retail trends firsthand. And, India is a fascinating market place, with one of the highest percentage of population under the age of 30. In preparing for this event, I encountered a new perspective that is emerging worldwide. The new retail reality is a growing digital divide between what today's smartphone wielding consumers expect, and what most retailers can deliver. One of the biggest challenges retailers face in 2016 is where to invest when they simply can't do it all. A related question will be how to measure ROI when purchases can now occur anytime and everywhere!

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Topics: Omnichannel

Moving beyond service - how do we make a customer's life better today?

Posted on January 20, 2016 by Nanette BrownComments


2015 was an incredible year for retail. New technologies shaped customer experiences allowing brands to compete effectively for customers’ attention and provide amazing experiences. But we’re in 2016, and to make your customer’s life better today, you have to be cutting edge and offer new experiences.

To offer relevant experiences, the kind your customers will appreciate, you need to get to know your customers first and understand what influences them.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Omnichannel, Customer Service

How Does Mobile Fit in Your Customer Experience?

Posted on December 29, 2015 by Kevin LeiferComments


If you haven’t connected with your customers via mobile yet, you’ve missed out on a huge opportunity.

If you’re not going to connect with your customers via mobile in 2016, they’ll move to a competitor who offers an omnichannel experience and who knows how to interact with them.

In-store interactions won’t be enough in 2016. Customers expect that you’ll follow them with each stage of the sales funnel and help them make educated decisions about their purchases. You need to find out how to extend the in-store experience for your customers following a store visit.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Omnichannel, Mobile

Did You Achieve Your 2015 Customer Experience Goals?

Posted on December 23, 2015 by Nanette BrownComments


It’s that time of year again; time to take a critical look back on 2015.

I’m sure that when you planned your last year’s customer experience resolution, you wanted to make a difference this year. The question is, were you able to do that?

To find out how 2015 was for your customers, you’ll have to answer three questions first.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Omnichannel

Why Retailers Should Rethink “Self-Service”

Posted on December 1, 2015 by Kevin LeiferComments



What four words best capture the state of retail today?

Consumers run the show.

Consumers are more informed, more demanding, and freer than ever before. The balance of power has shifted. Brands are no longer in charge of the buying process.

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

Customer Experience Update