Usually, when we’re on the other side of the shore, things seem easy, obvious even. But the minute the pressures of business take over, we find ourselves forgetting strategy and advice that may seem like common sense to most people. Customer Experience is one issue we all struggle with each day.
Enough and more has been said about how to treat a customer who walks into a store. ‘Customer is king’, ‘always prioritize the customer’, ‘think like a customer’. It quickly gets tiring. Yes, as retailers, we know we’re supposed to think like our customers, we just don’t know how!
If you’ve gotten tired of reading advice, books, and manuals that make no sense to you after the first few pages, we hear you. This post isn’t meant to tell you ‘new and improved’ ways to treat customers- instead, we just hope that you’ll be able to take away not just the ‘what’ but also the ‘how’ of customer handling and interaction. Without much ado, here are five simple ways to improve customer experience and help your customers have a lovely experience at your store.
1. Customer Behavior Reflects Employee Behavior
Why do some stores always seem like they attract a lot of repeat customers while others don’t? What makes a customer come back? More often than not, even above considerations such as price, a customer values experience.
How did you treat them in the store? Did they interact with a representative who was helpful yet unobtrusive? Did they make an informed purchase?
Take something as basic as a lingerie store for example. It may seem like a no-brainer that the store would need fitting experts and someone who can recommend lingerie based on preferences, but how often do we just see an aisle full of products with the clear message, “Do as you please”?
We often take for granted that our customers know exactly what they want. Instead, so many people walk into stores with the intention of browsing and of being convinced to buy a certain something. A well-informed store employee will be able to serve this purpose.
There’s also the other extreme. Large retailers often find it hard to monitor every store, so they set targets for their employees- ‘collect feedback from twenty customers every day’. The employees, in their immense wisdom, begin to hound customers for feedback even when they don’t seem keen to provide it. Ironically, an activity meant to understand consumers often ends up become a reason for them to never visit again.
2. Shorten Those Lines!
This is the age of online buying. The basic reason why so many people prefer buying online is that no one has the time or inclination to stand in long queues. We all know how long queues can get during peak seasons. If we were a customer and not a retailer, we wouldn’t want to stand in them.
Most small retail stores depend on manual billing. If you’re still billing manually, you may want to switch to a Point of Sale software and make things happen faster. For one, barcode scanning is always quicker than writing the product’s name out with a pen.
While there is no way to eliminate queues from retail stores entirely, having more points of sale during peak season can help shorten them. Having an engaging television program or music playing in the background, sufficient air conditioning and water nearby can all help make the queue seem less painful.
If you root for the radical approach, incorporate a feature where customers can buy your product online and then pick it up in-store. Especially useful for electronic goods.
Related Article: 5 ways to make your store a different experience from the rest
3. The Changing Room Dynamics
This one is for the apparel stores. Yes, having curtains instead of doors makes people leave trial rooms faster. But it also causes people to spend less time with the product, be less convinced with their pick, and perhaps buy lesser. A fitting room is the core of every apparel store, and having drapes there that anyone can pull aside is just frustrating.
Frankly, just have doors. You can instead set a limit on the number of garments that can be taken in in one go, or on the amount of time spent inside a trial room. You can have helpers gently ensure that only a certain number of clothing pieces are being taken in at a time.
4. Keep The Parents In Mind
Perhaps one demographic that always finds itself ignored is the parent community. From movie theaters to high-end apparel stores, no one seems to want a snooty child in their shop. Parents, however, also tend to shop more, especially in the Kids Apparel and Gaming sections. Isn’t it only right then that you could benefit immensely from having a supervised playpen inside your store?
This applies not just to stores selling kids’ stuff, but also stores that sell cosmetic products, jewelry or even just groceries. A dedicated playpen with a trained supervisor may just be what a haggard parent needs to be able to finish shopping.
5. Extra Whipped Cream
Who doesn’t like a few extra toppings? As a retailer, you may have considered having loyalty programs in place. More often than not, loyalty cards can be useless rather than rewarding, especially if the rewards are linked to bill value alone. Even here, demographics come into play. If you sell multiple categories of products, you may find a particular set of people interested in certain products. You can try and give these groups better incentives by offering better rewards in their categories of choice.
If you have a single or very few stores, it helps to remember your customers by name. This would make them want to come back to the friendly neighborhood retailer instead of trying someplace new.
What tips and tricks have you used to improve customer experience in your retail store so far? How have they worked for you? Let us know in the comments.