The Customer Experience?
We have never lived in a more exciting time when technology and personal experience can work together. Ignite your imagination beyond marketing and understand that your people are your front line brand ambassadors. They embody your brand…..or not. What can you be doing better?
The retail experience is not just a beautiful looking store. An experience requires an interaction with the environment to make it memorable. Otherwise it’s just about being in a place, and if that’s what we’re now calling an experience, then I’m having experiences everywhere I go! But I wouldn’t call them anything other than functional or BAU – certainly not WOW!
So is there a retailer who is getting the retail experience right? As a customer, LUSH is the best example of a retailer that “gets” the experience concept and understands that their people are the facilitators of that customer experience.
My last visit to LUSH began with an olfactory invitation to redirect my feet into the store to explore the originators of those incredibly emotive fragrances.. and once inside, my experience with the LUSH brand was a multifaceted one.
Why reinvent the wheel when we can learn from one of the best retailers:
ONE: Make customers feel welcome
Sounds obvious and simple, right? But how many times recently have you entered a store, walked around, looked around for help but haven’t even been acknowledged by one staff member – even with eye contact?
They’re absorbed in their own conversations, on their phone, on the computer system or absorbed in another task.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Retail requires a lot of its staff, but surely it understands that without customers, there isn’t a sale. Making eye contact in the first 30 seconds and smiling takes no effort….
TWO: Meet customers where they’re at in their buying journey and be their guide
It takes practice to do this well.
15 years ago I would have been trying to get retail staff to stop greeting their customers with: “Can I help you?” or “How can I help you?” Today that would be refreshing.
I mean mastering the art of small talk. We must develop our front line team’s skills in the art of conversation to relax their customers, and to get a sense of where that buyer is at. It’s when we’re “in” the conversation that we can begin to ascertain:
Are they in a hurry or are they filling in time?
Have they come in for a reason, and if so, what is it?
What do they like about the store?
What have they been doing that day or what do they have on the agenda for the rest of that day?
What is their communication style?
How are they interacting with the products? Where are their eyes going?
Are they high energy or a bit more reserved?
And if your team is even aware of these things, how well do they apply their observations to better connect with customers?
THREE: Create theatre in store
Have you ever noticed that it’s when cleaning or putting in a new window display or restocking that customers approach you? Have you ever wondered why that is? When you’re interacting with the products near customers, you’re more approachable. It gives them an opening.
LUSH, takes this colour and movement concept to another level. Staff use their sink to show customers what a bath bomb fizzes like, the colours it produces and the fragrance it emits. They’ll show you how to use the body bar moisturisers and ask you to tell them how it feels and smells….
They’re having fun and you’re invited to join in! What could your team be doing to create a moving focal point in store?
FOUR: Be about more than just the product
Customers don’t just buy the product. Ever.
If they did, advertising would simply show images of the product, the stockists, the price.
There’d be no more dancing babies, dads cooking family meals and attractive retirees having the holiday of a lifetime.
It’s what the product will enable them to be/do/have that they just couldn’t be/do/have without it. Our jobs as retailers must include to uncover this through the art of conversation and then facilitate that experience in store and post store.
FIVE: Make your customers feel part of your tribe
Brands are more than labels or a logos. When a brand understands that it is about attracting, converting and retaining customers it has the capacity to create its own tribe. It taps into our primal need for belonging and connection. If I asked your team (let alone your customers), how well can they talk about:
What your business is about?
How does it give back to the community?
What do you stand for?
How well can your staff speak with passion about that with customers?
How well do they make customers feel like they’re in the brand’s “club”?
Oh I could go on, but I’ll save it for another time! Plenty here to work with. LUSH: we love you. Thank you for keeping it simple, real and always about a facilitated customer experience.