November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Retailers have confused the customer experience with customer service, but they are not the same thing. Providing exceptional service and improving your competitive edge through customer experience will keep your customers and business operational.
Customer service is considered a single transaction that takes care of the customer’s immediate needs. This includes booking a customer’s install, product selections or an in-home measurement. You can do all of this effortlessly and still not provide a notable experience.
Practicing customer-service basics is not sufficient anymore. There are too many outlets competing for your customer’s attention. With increasing competition in the marketplace, all stores are looking for ways to create differentiation and offer value and an unforgettable experience their customers will share with family and friends.
The customer experience is what happens between you (your store) and the customer over time. It is the customer’s perception of what you do. Let’s say you tell the customer you will be at her house at 2 p.m., but you don’t get there until 3 p.m. and you forget to call. Even though you are late, you have taken care of the customer by getting to her house, but her perception of the experience is that you can’t be counted on. This perception will be hard to change and is part of her experience. Staying on top of the experience means paying attention to every encounter you have with the customer.
Once you have mastered basic customer service you must find a way to take it up a notch. Creating an outstanding experience alongside service will take preparation and planning.
This year at Surfaces there are two presenters who are well versed at sustaining the customer experience: Pamela Danziger from Unity Marketing and Tema Frank, chief investigator at Frank Reactions.
Danziger’s seminar, “Transforming your Floor Covering Store into a Shop that Pops,” will provide you with seven steps to extraordinary retail success. She breaks down the new retailing experience based on “people, people and people.” The key is to build a unique and personal experience with the customer. In addition, Danziger will take you behind J&S Designer Flooring in Morristown, N.J., and show you what they are doing to build the customer experience. Her session will be held Jan. 30 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., code TU05.
Frank is considered to be a customer experience and digital marketing pioneer. In 2001, she founded the world’s first company that tested both online and offline customer service. To do this she developed a panel of 75,000 mystery shoppers worldwide. In her seminar, she will talk about strategies that are essential in a technology-driven marketplace. She will also create a LinkedIn group to share best practices among the participants. Frank’s session will be held Jan. 29 from 3:30p.m.-5:00 p.m., code MN25.
According to both Danziger and Frank, the real keys to the customer experience are the people in your store who interact with your customers. If they continue to do the same things over and over, it’s likely the customer will not remember who you are or come away with a unique feeling about your store. If the experience is not different than your competitors it’s likely they won’t rate you very highly or talk about you on social media.
If you want the customer experience that “pops,” you will have to get your employees to another level.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.