Traditional retail is in a very challenging time period at the moment. Competition, rents, wages, power prices, lack of consumer confidence has all lead to customers reducing their spend, particularly on items they may see as non-essential. It’s a tough time for retailers yet, I believe, the destiny of most stores is still in their hands. There is massive opportunity to build a loyal following of customers, who will purchase while in store, come back and tell others.
Simply by creating an experience that they can’t get elsewhere. And it’s not that hard, as long as the business has a focus to provide exceptional service every time customers come in. Not just when there’s no stock to put away, or you have the right team on for a day, it has to be every time. It’s too easy for customers these days to simply go somewhere else if their expectations aren’t met.
Times might be tough, but this is where the real retailers will put their hands up and stick out like sore thumbs. However, here’s the challenge. What I have just said is easy to say yet not easy to do. And one of the reasons why is the lack of focus coming from senior leaders that service is important.
We have always believed that customer service is management driven. If the leaders at the top believe that providing consistent excellent service is important and they walk the talk, then it’s highly likely to happen. Yet if the focus is mainly on cost cutting, which I do know is important, then the focus on service will often take a back seat. It’s about getting the balance right.
With today’s technology available, it’s a lot easier to track when customers are coming into store, to allow for better allocation of resources. Right people at the right time, allowing them the opportunity to connect and ask questions, so the right solutions can be provided. Not feeling so pressured to do tasks that they ignore customers or provide cursory service and end up just being an order taker.
How many senior leaders are spending time in store these days, talking to their teams and especially with customers on what’s working and what’s not? This is where the gold is and this feedback can help retailers unlock what that amazing experience should look like. Unfortunately according to a recent Harvard study, it found that CEO’s only spent 3% of their average working week with customers, yet they spent 72% of their time in meetings. They even spent three times as much time on personal matters!
So retailers, if you want to fight back and build amazing loyalty with your valuable customers, my challenge is to senior leaders to lead by example and ensure they and their teams are focussed on meeting and of course exceeding customer expectations.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.