Much of my time is spent speaking with retail leaders, developing thought partnership CX strategy and quite honestly, spending time in stores. On a recent morning, I arrived at a mid-box retailer where they were just completing their morning huddle. Before the group broke off, I witnessed the manager hand a POS associate an extensive list that was to ‘be completed before they left’. I watched as she read through the list and you could just see her mannerisms show how am I ever going to accomplish all of this list and still ring customers up. The associate was conflicted, and you could tell she had that list on her mind as customers were beginning to queue in her line. In fact, as a customer fumbled in her purse to find a wallet, the associate began folding shirts as to take advantage of every moment she had available as others waited in line. There was no engagement with the customer or any others that passed through the line. She was focused on ‘the list’ and not the experience. A self-service check-out lane could have most likely derived a better service experience.
I share this as associates and store teams are so tasked today to do more with less. As a result, it’s often difficult to choose what’s most important – meaning if I cannot accomplish everything, what are those things that I should focus on first. What are the ‘priorities’ that never waiver no matter the number of tasks that need completion. If CX is paramount to sales, conversion and repeat visits, how do I ensure that those become the actions that always move to the front of the line over anything else.
Here are 3 tactics that may help you drive a better CX that everyone can support.
Start at the Top – Dogfooding is becoming a more popular business term and for good reason. It’s built around the concept of “eating your own dog food” — or discovering for yourself what customers experience by working with the front-line associates. While it often provides a window of insight into the associate experience, it’s equally important to understand the experience from the customers point of view. This strategy does not necessarily need to be built around uncovering performance issues, problems, or bugs, but rather the ability to empathize with customers more effectively. This effort combined with CX tools that provide mechanisms to deliver actionable intelligence can be incredibly powerful in defining the experience priorities for the store teams.
Dogfooding can also be utilized ‘before’ rolling out new initiatives to the store teams. Benefits include building ownership & trust in the product, testing concepts to iron out any flaws and developing more insightful customer empathy in advance of customers actually experiencing it.
Choosing Customer Over Task – One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes is, “You will get all you want in life if you help other people get what they want.” More specifically, you are in control to help customers get the most out of their experience. That could mean spending a little more time with them helping choose the right item, engaging them while they are navigating the check-out or simply taking the time to genuinely greet them when they arrive. Helping the store teams truly understand what are non-negotiables, such as pausing a task to acknowledge a passing customer or being aware of a customer that appears to need assistance are critical to driving a team CX approach. My wife owns a cooking school and EVERY guest that comes in is greeted with “Make yourself at home, please.’ She wants them to feel as if her team is welcoming them into our home and hopefully starts their culinary experience with a genuine feel to it. While it may seem like you don’t have an extra minute or two to spare, think of it as the possible difference between a customer coming back – or not. Use the lens of customer centricity as the starting point for every decision that’s made corporately or in the stores. That way everyone knows exactly what you’re trying to deliver to your customers.
Listening to your customers is just the start – Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly important to seek feedback and input from customers. While metrics like CSAT and NPS are nice to know, being able to quickly identify issues, put in place the solves and then measure how well you’re delivering on those is what will improve CX in-store.
Forrester recently cited that 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. There lies the struggle today as most businesses find it easy to understand the importance of data, but at times can struggle with converting it into meaningful action. This actionable data is important as it allows you to make informed decisions and do it quicker, but also helps you more accurately identify the resources of where to invest that will have the greatest return.
So how do you take the store experience to the next level? The short answer is it all depends. Look at your data, talk to your associates or better yet, ask your customers — what would make you come into our store more often? Whatever direction you choose to go in, driving CX that the entire store team can rally around is a great place to start.
For more than 20 years, Brian Dennis has been a customer service thought innovator who has demonstrated proven performance in his field.
He is also a sought-after keynote speaker, trend forecaster, panelist, and key contributor on the integration of customer service, Omni-channel, and retail.
Brian is the author of 2 books on customer experience with his newest title ‘If The Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in The Wrong Seat’ which was recognized as one of the top 30 CX books in the world for 2017. A skilled leader who delivers results through innovative customer service and technology thinking that drives performance and operational excellence. An extremely strong communicator who utilizes excellent interpersonal skills to develop long-term relationships with internal and external business partners.