I recently came across an article on McKinsey that truly spoke to me: it was about a little girl who had accidentally dropped her favorite doll into a muddy puddle at Disneyland, leaving it in rough shape. Thankfully, shortly thereafter, the park staff members cleaned it, and changed the doll into a brand-new outfit, instantly transforming this potentially sad story into a heartwarming one. This is magic at work: customers who are wowed by their experiences will spread the word about them. In today’s social-first world, this can translate into invaluable positive publicity for brands: one little girl’s happy ending can quickly go viral. Successful companies benefit from the positive reviews that these exceptional customer experiences generate, and they all have something in common: their customers always come first. What steps retailers should follow to win clients for life using a customer-first strategy?
1. Have a strong purpose
According to Forbes, a company’s purpose is “its intrinsic reason for existing – to use technology to transform customers’ lives for the better, to nurture and develop its employees, or to preserve the environment for future generations.”
A few words usually suffice to describe a business’s main goals – and serve as the foundation of the company as a whole. What’s more, a company’s philosophy needs to be reflected in the products it proposes, the way it trains its staff, and at every level of the organization. Customer experience training, for example, is essential, because communicating effectively in a retail setting may not come naturally to all staff. Mastering the art of ensuring that each brand interaction is a success and reflects your company’s purpose is sure to be a winning long-term strategy.
2. Make your sales associates shine with modern technology tools
Sales associates are essential: they are the human face of your brand, and customers who enjoy interacting with them will likely visit your stores again. However, highly-motivated and knowledgeable store associates are not enough to win customers’ hearts for life. If retailers hope to improve the overall shopping experience, they must invest in modern merchandise management and customer-engagement tools that will equip sales associates with the technology they need to be top performers.
In today’s hyper-connected world, store associates need to know more than what customers can find out on their own. By using an integrated merchandising system, for instance, sales associates can consult and update their inventory in real time, on the devices of their choice, without ever leaving the customer’s side.
Clienteling and CRM solutions are also sales associates’ best allies to personalize the shopping experience, understand customers from the ground up, and nurture relationships with them. The retail company, & Other Stories, for example, focuses on clothes that were inspired by bloggers and influencers. This brand appeals to a younger audience, thus making it essential for sales associates to understand the philosophy behind the brand, and what its goals are.
3. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
Acknowledging different shopper profiles and tailoring interactions to their unique needs can truly elevate the shopping experience. For example, a price-sensitive customer might not appreciate your sales associate’s upselling initiative, while an impulsive luxury consumer will likely be pleased to be shown the very best, and will turn a blind eye to the higher price tag.
While understanding your shoppers’ profiles and personalities is important, the key to taking the shopping experience to the next level and boosting revenues is personally curated commerce using a clienteling solution. This powerful tool works wonders: it not only creates beautiful visuals to inspire purchases, but it also provides dynamic shopping experiences to customers. Curated commerce enables sales associates to put themselves in their customers’ shoes on an ongoing basis, which creates endless opportunities to connect with customers.
4. Remember that every detail matters
With the lines between online and offline channels becoming increasingly blurred, omnichannel experiences are now more sophisticated than ever. For instance, it’s no longer enough to have a strong presence both online and in-store, customers also expect a hassle-free customer experience on all channels. If they want to return the items they ordered online last week, they should be able to do so without thinking twice. Some customers might even assume you already offer the service, and will be disappointed if they make a trip to the mall, only to find out they can’t return the items they had purchased online. While this may seem like an insignificant detail to retailers, it won’t go unnoticed by customers.
Omni-channel retailing has become far more complex than it was only a few years ago, making investments in technology an absolute necessity. Retailers should always remember that every single detail matters: from awakening the senses, to listening to feedback, and most importantly not only fixing problems but avoiding them altogether. Building a customer-first strategy is all about making the experience enjoyable, while constantly finding new ways to transform it into something new and exciting, and that’s where the real magic of retail can be found.