Is Your Retail Customer Experience Driving Customers Away?

By: on June 3, 2016

As a single-store merchant, you live and die by your retail customer experience. Negative experiences drive customers away from your store, as well as all their friends and family and everyone else they tell about the crummy experience. You can’t afford that!

But consistently delivering a positive retail customer experience is no easy feat. Every interaction a customer has with your store and brand is important, including:

  • Marketing materials
  • In-store employee interactions
  • Online web store interactions
  • Retail customer service
  • Retail technology systems

It’s critical that you’re intentional in your interactions with customers at these and all touchpoints.

We’ve highlighted three tips to help you define and optimize your customer experience. By doing so, you’ll give your store an advantage that will turn regular customers into loyal customers and hopefully even advocates for your brand.

(Click on a link below to jump to that section.)

Champion a Customer-Centric Approach
Build a Tangible Roadmap for Success
Invest in the Technology Necessary for Success

Champion a Customer-Centric Approach

The first step in designing a profitable customer experience is establishing a customer-focused mentality. Many enterprise businesses actually assign Chief Customer Experience Officers (CCOs or CXOs) to lead these initiatives, as demonstrated by the CCO Council Advisory Board.

As a small business owner, you obviously don’t have the luxury of employing any Chiefs, let alone a dedicated experience officer. It’ll be you that has to lead the customer-focus initiative for your organization, which extends far beyond a simple “the customer is always right” mentality.

For retail customer service expert Shep Hyken, creating a customer-centric culture begins with your employees. He offers some examples for how small businesses can instill a customer-centric attitude into the customer experience:

“Start with the end in mind,” Hyken says. “What does the perfect customer service experience look like for your customer? From there, determine what will deliver that experience.”

Hyken stresses the importance of trusting employees and giving them the freedom to execute on your goals.

“Once you define your customer [experience] standards, don’t encumber your employees with rules that get in the way. Instead, give them the power to do what it takes to meet and exceed those standards.”

Shep Hyken, retail customer service expert

Encourage your employees to learn from their experience and share their takeaways with each other. Even if your store only has a couple of associates, set a time once a week or month to “check-in” on your customer experience. This will help foster the spirit and expertise necessary to consistently improve experiences for every customer.

Build a Tangible Roadmap for Success

Once you’ve defined your ideal customer-centric culture, you can set up processes and implement tactics to instill that culture into daily operations.

Create a formal roadmap that defines the accomplishments you need to achieve success. A roadmap is a common strategy for larger retailer brands, but they have to take numerous business units and customer touchpoints into consideration.

As a small retailer, you have an advantage in your size. You probably interact with all the parties invested in your retail customer service and experience on a daily basis. This will make the process much easier and ensure the roadmap stays true to your unique brand.

Defining a roadmap is crucial because it provides employees with tangible steps to achieve seemingly intangible improvements.

Customer Experience Roadmap

Processes on your roadmap could be as simple as ensuring every customer is greeted upon entrance. Or, you may need to employ a few more associates to roam your aisles with mobile POS systems to conveniently checkout customers.

Regardless of the steps in your roadmap, it’s important to keep in mind that this effort must be continuous—day in and day out—as well as adaptable. Customer experience strategies need to be living processes that change over time in response to new information.

Again, your size is an advantage when it comes to being nimble and agile with your experience strategy. You can easily roll out new and/or revised processes without the need to inform many employees.

However, understanding which process to revise and improving the overall customer experience in general requires continuous measurement of your processes. To do this, you’ll need to set up measuring tools.

Invest in the Technology Necessary for Success

As you can see, and probably already know, there are a ton of moving parts to your store. But each and every part is as critical as the next to ensure consistent and positive customer experiences. That’s why it’s important to have a central system to view and manage all your store’s various processes.

Most POS systems on the market today can help you manage at least five crucial parts of your retail business:

Sales reporting and analytics

  • Quantify your customer experience initiatives to monitor success
  • Determine your most valuable customers to increase their loyalty
  • Pinpoint top-selling and highest grossing products

Customer management

  • Record customer profiles to personalize future experiences
  • Track purchase histories to send targeted deals
  • Establish a formal loyalty program
  • Promote and reward customer advocacy

Employee management

  • Monitor basics like shift scheduling and hours worked
  • Automate commissions payouts for sales associates
  • Engage employees with motivational content through internal channels

Inventory management

  • Automate the tedious task of monitoring and counting inventory levels
  • Set up automatic ordering once stock levels reach set totals
  • Provide an in-depth catalogue to help customers overcome out-of-stock incidences

Point of sale

  • Reduce human error by auto-assigning pricing with barcode scanning
  • Ditch the typical checkout counter and process sales anywhere with a mobile POS
  • Stay current on payment trends by offering EMV-enabled, contactless payment options

What Are Your Next Steps?

For revamping your small retail customer experience, you have to first define what you want your store’s experience to look like. This definition will be a combination of your brand mission, products, purchasing process, and target customer(s). Consider all of these equally when determining your ideal brand.

For information about the best POS systems for your business, visit our catalog of top POS systems. You can read reviews and get familiar with the top-rated POS systems.

After that, you can take advantage our free POS consultations. Simply complete our retail questionnaire and one of our expert POS advisors will provide a shortlist of POS systems that are best for you.

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