The key to getting customers' attention is to stand above other retail brands. In today's world where people are saturated with information, it's crucial to create memorable customer experiences that keep people coming back and drive sales.
Today brand image is largely driven by customer perceptions. People talk, share, take pictures, and post online every minute of the day. The way people experience your brand is the way they will talk about your brand. This urges retailers to stay alert and curate each part of the customer shopping experience. The more proactive retail companies are, the more control brands will have over market perceptions and influence retail sales.
For retailers this means designing every customer touch point to work separately to tell a consistent story. Align the storefront, displays, scent, selection, lighting and most importantly good service to build the narrative. Ultimately customers' association with a brand is based on how it makes them feel.
Whether you have the product they are looking for at that moment or stumble upon your offer, people react and recall interactions that establish an emotional connection.
- As many as 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Source: RightNow
- 60 percent of consumers say they have not completed an intended purchase due to a poor customer service experience. That translates into an estimated $83 billion in lost sales for US retailers. Source: Microsoft
- It takes 12 positive customer experiences to negate the poor impression left behind from one unresolved, bad experience. Source: Forbes
- Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell 4 to 6 people about their experience. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affair.
Build a positive and consistent brand experience
Even a single negative customer service experience can deter potential customers from spending money with a company. An HR and marketing collaboration will ensure a rich brand and employee experience that impact customer perception. When hiring new employees look for core sales skills and apply great scrutiny before making an offer.
Select people who match the corporate culture, will fit into the team, and those who would be most evangelical about your brand. Onboard new hires and offer ongoing training to ensure consistent messaging and knowledge level across team members.
Groom sales reps to deliver on service first, then sales
Prepare sales reps to not only sell, but also to deliver personalized experiences. Good sales associates should learn how to read customers as they walk through the store. Providing a service-oriented environment encourages repeat visits and increased engagement with the brand. Retailers can learn from the Apple approach:
A - Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
P - Probe politely to understand all the customer's needs.
P - Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
L - Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
E - End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
In the case of luxury brands the best-quality customer service is especially important. Luxury customers expect a personalized experience in line with the exclusivity that comes with luxury retail. Nearly half of all luxury consumers demand an apology, refund, or incentives following a poor customer service experience.
Be human, listen and create a conversation
Avoid scripted responses or irrelevant responses. Be aware and observant as people walk through the door. Greet and ask simple questions to gauge customer's interest, buying mood, and adapt the conversation.
Doing so will increase customer satisfaction and lead to cross-selling, upselling, and suggestive selling opportunities to increase overall basket size. If the visit doesn't turn into a sale, at least you've created a positive customer experience that people will remember.
The human factor is what sets the online from the in-store experience and helps to combat retail showrooming to increase in-store sales.
Wow them with knowledge
Keep sales teams on top of their game with ample product knowledge including key points on competitor offerings. Providing facts and details will help them gain the customer trust to drive repeat visits and sales.
According to Wharton's study on retailers, sales associates with specific product knowledge who could meet consumers' needs brought in on average 69 percent more money than those who didn't.
Continuous training brings in sales
Sales associates who did any training at all were 46% more productive — [they had] 46% more sales per hour than those who didn’t train. A top challenge for training retail sales staff is to keep them highly informed while optimizing their time on the salesfloor. For sales people every customer contact matters. For every minute they spend away represents an opportunity cost reflected in sales productivity.
Providing continuous training in bite-size pieces responds to the challenge. Microlearning with the Atrivity app means 2-5 minutes a day of knowledge reinforcement, retailers are already supporting frontline sales staff.
Make them feel special
With every engagement, whether a shopper buys or not, offer an incentive for them to come back. In-store events, loyalty cards, mailing lists for offers, incentives for first-time buyers, samples are all inexpensive ways to create an emotional tie with a potential or return customer.
Curating the customer experience is a retailer's opportunity to create memorable experiences that people talk about. Brand marketers, store managers, channel managers should have this on top of their list of ways to innovate and engage shoppers. Find what moves shoppers, create a compelling story and provide training and marketing support to equip all frontline staff with the same messaging that build brand and impact customers.