Early on in the series of articles on Retail Reflections: How Can I Motivate My Team When It Comes To Retail Selling? I defined the 6 elements that make a successful retail sales environment:
- The Customer.
- The Manager.
- The Staff Member.
- The Reception.
- The Marketing.
- The Merchandising.
The impact on your bottom line when it comes to retail isn’t as simple as hiring a good salesperson. It is important to understand that when it comes to selling, it is the customer journey that will make or break the sale. How often have you been somewhere and felt so good that the price tag didn’t matter? It is the same for the reverse: how often have you been somewhere where the customer journey was so disjointed and unpleasant, the money you spent in the place didn’t feel right, the value of it was wasted in an experience that left you unsatisfied.
I conducted so many mystery shopping experiences last year and only a handful of them got it right when it came to the customer journey. It’s important to realize that the key to success is understanding what the customer feels when shopping with you and their experience as a whole rather than the purchased item itself.
Everything that you do in your business has an impact and creates a value to the customer, from the music down to the sitting arrangement. I’ve seen this be true for any business. Not sure where to start when it comes to reassessing your current store ambiance? Visit, study and enjoy a meal at your favorite restaurants. It’s an experience that can easily be transferred to the retail industry.
Let me give you an example:
I wanted to treat my daughters to a lovely meal in an amazing restaurant in London for a special occasion. I knew we were going to spend a fair amount (over $300) but having been there before and loving it, I expected it to be fantastic as usual. The expectation was high. We arrived and instantly felt the atmosphere was wrong. In many ways, there was a hint of stress and unpleasantness on the staff’s behaviour. Our waitress came to us without a smile and I felt like she slammed the menus on the table. I became irritated.
Being French and of mature age, I wanted to point out what was happening, after all, this was our treat! But my daughters asked for me to go with the flow. So, I didn’t say anything. Most customers don’t. It was a truly unpleasant experience. And although the food was as superb as I remembered, the overall experience was tarnished by the customer journey and we never returned there again despite the impeccable quality of the food.
We ended up not ordering additional drinks besides tap water, no dessert, and left there having spent less than half of what I was ready and willing to spend. Who continued to get our business? The little Italian restaurant where, despite the food not being that incredible but decent, we are always welcomed by our names. Where we wait for a table with a glass of wine in hand. And we are spoken to with big smiles no matter how stressful or busy the day is.
I repeat it again and again when delivering retail sales trainings: money comes second. It’s the value of what the customer experiences with you as a whole that must come first.
To add value to their experience is to dissect every aspect of the customer journey:
- Before they come to your business: how is your website, social media & brand voice represented? How easy is it to secure an appointment or find your hours of business? Are your phone conversations courteous? Do you keep key client notes for future reference in your customer database?
- When in your business: how are they welcomed? What are their steps to go to the counter? What can they see? How consistent is the customer journey if they come back?
- After their visits: How do you tangibly measure the customer’s satisfaction? Are you rebooking them for a follow-up consultation or sharing interesting news or upcoming events? What happens if a client doesn’t return to you? How do you entice them to return again?
The littlest touches can be the most powerful. Once shopping for my usual makeup and foundation at a shop I had never been to, I received the best customer experience from the minute I spoke to the salesperson. Feeling taken care of, of course, I spent more than expected but I felt so good! A week later, I received a handwritten note thanking me for coming in and I found samples inside the envelope that were not available for me at the time of my visit. To this day, I still go there for my make-up purchases.
At L’Occitane, our staff had to say to each customer that was coming through the doors: “Welcome to L’Occitane, would you like a tea while you are browsing?” A winning question every time as it broke the ice and felt sincere. Defining your customer journey is to create the details of that experience.
Without understanding the details of the customer journey, we fail to deliver a memorable experience at all times. Purchasing becomes another chore to the customer. If the customer feels wonderful, she will be more likely to leave with not only the products that will benefit her but also the wonderful feeling of wanting more of the experience only you can give. A good way of defining your customer journey is to have regular mystery shops. Because you cannot monitor everything on your own, these are the best for receiving unbiased constructive criticism that can help you generate new best practices.
In my next upcoming article (Part 3), I will be talking about the critical manager mindset that makes or breaks the retail sales culture in your business. Discover what the Manager has to focus on in order to motivate their teams and deliver their targets every time while never losing sight of the customer journey.
Love retail and retail will love you back!
Valerie Delforge is the founder and CEO of Delforge Management Consulting LTD whom is dedicated to setting up spas and retail boutiques for ultimate success through expert bespoke programmes and accessible online workshops. Learn more about Delforge Management Consulting here: https://valeriedelforge.com/