Is your customer experience really as good as you say it is, or is all just one big charade?
To put this question to the test, I set out to one of Australia’s favourite department stores. If this store could talk, it would say that it’s an Aussie fave with a cult following, and a market leader in its category.
Who is it? That I won’t tell you, but what I will tell you is how their customer experience stacked up.
To measure this, we’ve applied a couple of simple models. 1) Our customer experience elements and 2) A very simple application of the 5 P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion and People). While the 5 P model is an oldie, we also think it’s a goodie when used in conjunction with other models.
THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
I set out looking for two items: a new bag, and a new mug (riveting, I know). The store location I visited was not my regular store, and so it took a bit of time to adjust to the difference in layout, but once this adjustment was made it was fairly easy to find the sections I needed to go to. Once I reached the correct section for each item, I was met with a whole range of other options in different colours and styles to choose from.
All products were on display, so I could get a good feel for the bag/mug I was considering. Price points were used to organise products, and these products were all well ticketed and reasonably priced. Because of this clear ticketing and abundance of stock, I didn’t feel the need to ask team members if there were any other styles available or in stock- it was all right there in front of me.
When it came to purchasing the item at the self-checkout, the process was simple and straightforward, but the placement of the registers in the centre of the store will take some getting used to. It felt somewhat uncomfortable having to walk back through the store with my bought items to exit, even though I had the receipt to prove my purchase.
Overall, I was able to find what I was looking for without difficulty, and left the store feeling happy about my purchase.
But what does my shopping journey say about the store’s customer experience?
Speed: The service is zippy and efficient, and mirrors the overall fast, moving pace of the store
Price: Cheap as chips! Products are extremely well priced, clearly labelled, and represent excellent value.
Product: There is a large product range to choose from so choice isn’t limited to only 1 or two items. This gets the adrenalin pumping and makes you think about all the possibilities that await. Roughly speaking, this feeling translates into “Yes, yes I do need this pointless framed poster with an inspirational quote and a picture of a unicorn on it. My life will be better for it”. Need I say more.
Ambience: Although the store is set out in a way that makes moving around straightforward, the sheer amount of stock also means you can get lost rummaging through to find the best (and most random) finds. The hunt is real, it’s exciting, and customers (like me) are living for it.
Layout: The central location of the self-serve registers is slightly confusing when compared to the traditional model of being at the store front. They may have implemented this to save on wages and try to reduce stock loss, but I can’t help but feel that its implementation takes away from having a vast store full of products to discover & “hunt”.
Appreciation: Being the type of store it is, I didn’t expect a high five on my way out. But perhaps there is a small opportunity to make their customers feel special in a passive way. Reward points (please not Fly Buys), a personalised “what’s new” catalogue? A bit more research with their core customer could uncover some gems.
Sustainability: This store still provides single-use plastic bags, which is interesting considering that some of its competitors have already phased these out. Although they’ve mentioned that they have plans to do this by 2019, it begs the question why they haven’t followed in the footsteps of their competitors to do this sooner. Aside from plastic bags, it would also be great to alert customers to other sustainability initiatives they’re working on or are a part of- perhaps there is also more room for customer involvement in this process?
All in all, this customer experience ticked all the boxes that I expected that this store would. Of course, there is always room for improvement, which is why it’s critical to continually assess how different strategies are working so that the customer experience can continue to evolve and develop for the better.