Let’s Make The Retail Customer Experience Great In 2016!

Let’s Make #Retail Customer Experience Great In 2016!

I am committed to making 2016 a great year both personally and professionally for myself. I am also committed to protecting my industry by reinventing my strategy, leadership, and overall approach to the business to resonate with the changing landscape that we experience, weekly, in retail.

There are several reports on how challenging Thanksgiving Day was for brick-and-mortar retail so far Yahoo Finance, Thanksgiving Shopping Crowds ‘Good Not Great’; Online Sales Strong, from Business Of Fashion, Online Sales Surge Ahead of Brick-and-Mortar Retailers’ Big Day, and from Wall Street Journal, Black Friday Shopping – With Thinner Crowds. We also learned about the Cyber Monday Results; From Business Of Fashion, Cyber Monday Sales Jump, High Traffic Leads To Website Outages. Finally, a great article from E-Consultancy, with an overview of the holiday shopping weekend, Sure, Retailers Changed Their Black Friday Strategies. But Did The Customers?The good news is that we will have another year of supporting metrics for next year’s retail environment for a deeper understanding what the customer’s expect and prefer (looks like they are happy shopping online vs. in-store on Thanksgiving Day). And it looks as though retail is on-track for it’s sales projections, overall, from Business Of Fashion, US Sales On Track Amid Online Boost.

The retail landscape is changing significantly and frequently and retailers are shuttering stores or closing completely. Here is an article from About (dot) com, *US 2016 Store Closings – All Retail Chain Store Locations To Be Closed Beyond 2015*. The highlights of this article are:

US 2016 Store Closings – All Retail Chain Store Locations To Be Closed Beyond 2015:
400 Office Depot / Office Max (by 2016)
223 Barnes & Noble (through 2023)
200 Children’s Place (through 2017)
200 Walgreens (by 2017)
175 Aeropostale (“over the next several years”)
150 American Eagle Outfitters (through 2017)
​120 Chico’s (through 2017)
100 Pier One (through 2017)
60 Pier One (fiscal 2016, ending February, 2016)
54 Golf Galaxy (by 2016)
40 Macy’s (2016)
35 Gap / Gap Kids (2016)

That is a lot of long-time, well known retailers closing locations.

So – how can we, as passionate, driven, and loyal retailers, make our retail organization great? Right now, it starts and ends with our people – our employees and our customers. What level of experience and expertise we can provide our customers with. According to an article by E-Consultancy, Just 26% of Companies Have A Well Developed Customer Experience Strategy. I say, this is a great place to start! Customer’s are shopping online because they seek a deal, and they want convenience. But there are plenty of consumers that still want/need support and reinforcement of their purchase. There are lots of people who want it in-hand TODAY which online purchases (for the most part) still cannot provide.

Here are 7 Important Customer Experience Statistics from TechnicallyMarketing

1) According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. Customer Experience: Is it the Chicken or the Egg, Forbes

2) 40% of organizations cite ‘complexity’ as the greatest barrier to improving multichannel customer experience, overtaking ‘organizational structure’ since 2010. Econsultancy MultiChannel Customer Experience Report

3) Only 37% of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores this year. 64% of brands got a rating of “OK,” “poor,” or “very poor” from their customers. Source: Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, 2012

4) 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Source: [RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report 2011](https://www.oracle.com/applications/customer-experience/service/index.html

5) Only 26% of companies have a well-developed strategy in place for improving the customer experience. Econsultancy MultiChannel Customer Experience Report

6) When asked what were the key drivers for a customer to spend more with a company 40% said improvement in the overall customer experience, and 35% said provide quick access to information and make it easier for customers to answer questions. Oracle Report: Why Customer Satisfaction is No Longer Good Enough

7) About 13 percent of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC

As noted by Christine Crandall in the Forbes article, Customer Experience: Is it the Chicken or the Egg, Forbes, “86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations” and “What if you just increased the percentage of consistently happy customers by 5%? For any company, large or small, that would be a game-changer in terms of revenue and profit”. Truly, how impactful could it be to provide such a high-level and enjoyable shopping experience to 10 to 15 additional customers per day per store? That could add hundreds of dollars in revenue added to each business day and ensure future repeat business in most specialty retailers.

This Infographic from Parature points out some critical points to a rewarding customer experience. Here are some of the highlights:

(1) The Top 3 Most Important Aspects of a Good Customer Experience
(a) 41% of customers reported it was getting any issues resolved quickly
(b) 26% reported it was getting any issues resolved in a single interaction
(c) 12% reported they valued a polite customer service representative

(2) Only 35% of people have complained about a brand on Social Media while 52% of people have praised a brand on Social Media. 59% of people said the brand responded to their complaint, praise or question and 51% said the response gave them an elevated view of the brand.

(3) “By 2020, Customer Experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator”

So – how do we get our team there? What areas do we have to focus on a retail organizations to ensure that our business delivers extraordinary customer experience?

Here are some other important statistics to consider when mapping out a Customer Experience Strategy for your retail company:

(1) According to Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report:
-Even in a negative economy, customer experience is a high priority for consumers, with 60% often or always paying more for a better experience
-86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, up from 59% four years ago.

(2) According to the American Express Global Customer Service barometer, (May 2011): 59% will try a new brand or company for a better service experience

(3) According to the AberdeenGroup – Customer Experience Management: Engaging Loyal Customers to Evangelize Your Brand: The top three drivers for investing in customer experience management are:
(a) Improve customer retention – (42%)
(b) Improve customer satisfaction – (33%)
(c) Increase cross-selling and up-selling (32%)

Here are the key points that you will need to map out a successful Customer Experience Strategy that support customer growth and brand loyalty:

(1) Employee Training
-we need to invest in onboarding, a full-training program for our employees
(2) Employee Empowerment Programs
-to make smart business decisions that encourage customer service and issue resolution with all levels of employees
(3) Employee Career Development Plans
-to encourage employee retention and an investment in the future success of the business
(4) Customer Service Programs
-that are inline with today’s customer expectations
(5) Product Knowledge Training
-to support the cross-selling and up-selling to drive increases to daily revenue in each store
(6) Employee Advocacy Programs
-detailed and standard driven, that support sharing great content
(7) Social Media Channel Training
-so that our employees can connect with our customers in the customer’s preferred method, comfortably and efficiently

With only 1% of customers feeling that companies are meeting their expectation, there is a huge opportunity to have and provide lots of extremely impressive customer experiences. In today’s retail world we are potentially selling to six living generations of consumers during any given business day and we are likely to have three or four of these generations working with us in our business. We need to provide the investment in, and development of, our employees to make them happy, knowledgeable, and confident in our business. By doing this, they will pass on their excitement, knowledge, and enthusiasm of the business to the consumer for a customer experience that exceeds their expectations consistently.

With all the data we have at our fingertips, it is criminal not to implement changes/updates to the business to react to what we know will resonate with our customers and our employees. Employees want to be able to assist customers and answer their questions, assuage their concerns, and create trust between the company and the consumer. Most retail organizations aren’t great at empowering all levels of team members to do this. Customer experience is what will keep the consumers coming into the store and will help to drive relevance to the brick-and-mortar retail stores.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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