Create a Unique Customer Experience - People, People, People

Let’s chat more about creating an experience for your customers. In our last post we discussed the importance of understanding who you are as a brand and comparing that to who your customer/s are.  This will assist your retail business define what experiences are important to your customer, and how to execute them.

Today we will chat about just 1 of 3 of the many customer experience strategies worth reviewing in your business.

1. Your team – who are the people who have contact with your customers on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. For the moment, we will assume your business is primarily a bricks and mortar customer facing one. (We’ll chat online experience in a later post).

Unfortunately Retail in Australia is (generally) not seen as a genuine, long term career choice. This applies particularly to the younger generations coming through the ranks. (Interestingly this is not the same as some other countries…. and we’ll tackle this enigma in a future post). This makes it EXTREMELY challenging to attract and retain quality team members at all levels, particularly at the front line.

But we all too easily forget that your front line staff are the MOST IMPORTANT people in your organisation. They are the ones who your customers know and have contact with on a regular basis. Back in my corporate days I would often say to my team – “this place will keep running without me and other senior manager’s, but guarantee it won’t keep running without you” (referring to one of my front line supervisors or team members).

There are some quick wins that can contribute to customer service standards that will = a better customer experience. These include the development, delivery and measurement of customer service standards, or as some refer to as “5 star service”. Usually this will occur after a customer journey review to initially understand what the key customer touch points are. However for many retail businesses this is where they stop with their customer service strategy. Just setting KPI’s and standards for service is not enough to create a culture that will deliver amazing customer experiences from your frontline. Here are some points to consider:

  • Create staff interview guides that focus on motivation and BEHAVIOUR and stop focusing on technical skillset unless it is a niche product category. Remember sales skills can be taught, a highly motivated team member can’t always be created. Train your interviewer’s to be able to ask the right questions and pair up interviewers to get a well-rounded perspective on the potential candidates.
  • Create grass root’s development programs to encourage a higher calibre of people to apply in the first place. For example what nationally accredited management training courses do you offer?
  • Create a culture of service where your staff love what they do – if they love their job, your customers will know it, sense it and reap the benefits of a happy and passionate team member. (This is one of my favourite topics which will show up in future posts – it’s a huge topic so I admit I’m not evening scratching the surface on this one).
  • Incentive your team members to provide amazing service.
  • And here’s a controversial one. DO NOT provide a set of service standards that measure your staff members service delivery at a granual step by step level. While in theory this method of finer detailed “mystery shopping” is a old school CEO favourite, it is not a realistic way to ensure an amazing experience. It suffocates your staff and turns the amazing behaviours your’re trying to encourage, into, well robotic must do’s that your staff will secretly hate. Instead set your expectations through telling stories of ideal customer experiences, create guidlines and tips on service, lead by example and financially reward your teams when they demonstrate and receive feedback on amazing customer experiences. The sooner you let your staff deliver amazing service with a twist of their own flavour…. the sooner they will love being themselves and serving their customers, all while making more money!

I’m pumped just talking on this topic but understand your eye’s will be hanging out of your head if you’ve made it this far throught my longish post.

In our next posts we’ll be looking at the next 2 points. And I may even talk a bit more on the above topic of your team. I love it.

2. Use of Space

3. Events and Promotions (No, I don’t mean discounting)

Till then.