customer-experience, marketing

Underwater Stick Waving

Lake Winnipesaukee cloaked in her early morning mists in Meredith, NH.

Who knows what is going on beneath the surface of a murky body of water? If we can’t see it, is it really happening? With so many moving parts in the business of retail’s multiple selling and marketing channels, how does one get the customer’s confidence? More is not more. It’s simply overwhelming. Multiple daily emails with different deals in different channels and mixed messages in social media can be mind numbing. Yes, we need to be available to the customer wherever the customer wants to be reached, but we need to do it with consistency, offering non conflicting deals and stories in all channels at the same time. Otherwise, that effort is frustrating or invisible to the customer and might as well be underwater stick waving.

customer-experience

The “Check Out”

antique banking blur business
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we go to great expense to energize customers to interact with us every day. Rarely does one decide to browse through websites or visit a physical location without a desired outcome in mind. As the NRF points out in its path to purchase, the decision to purchase is vast and varied. https://nrf.com/resources/consumer-research-and-data/consumer-behavior/consumer-path-purchase. Direct mail, digital marketing, and content in any channel will pique interest in many products which may otherwise have limited views/attention.  Illustrating the why behind the what drives the impulse to purchase. Those inspired consumers will take immediate action, looking to place their order to acquire their desired “stuff”. Believing that once the impulsive customer arrives, they will be satisfied with an inefficient and unattractive process is naive. The time, energy and funds  spent to direct the customer may end up in the virtual or physical equivalent of a junk yard.   The customer simply leaves. It’s equivalent to a hunt for a sales associate, or being on hold with a phone call. Unless the order form is seamless customer experience, you have no sale. Simplify the process. Eliminate steps. Seal the deal with your customer by making it easy to say yes.

customer-experience

The Human Touch

img_5934How important is face to face connection in the world of retail these days?  Based on recent sales floor experience, it’s clear that we are not yet ready for the Jetson life.  Below are the three most common reasons a customer crosses the threshold:

1. Return stations for online purchases. Customers don’t hesitate to order multiple sizes, and or multiple items to try on at home and return everything they decide against to a physical location. Their home is their private fitting room, and the local store is their reject rack. While there is some opportunity to flip this into a physical sale, it is typically a net negative sales transaction.  Do the store systems track the source of the returns?  If not, four wall performance is diminished by returns from another channel.

2.  Hungry for guidance.  Customers wander in looking slightly uncomfortable, standing in front of a merchandise presentation with a blank stare.  The relief they express when an informed and positive person gets them talking about why they have arrived, is palpable.  These interactions turn into a lot of fun.  Providing product knowledge and understanding the needs of a customer is key.   In these cases, price is not necessarily a primary decision driver.

3.  Specific hunt.  The shopper has an immediate need for an event or an emergency and don’t have time for a delivery.  Some shoppers are more than happy to make a less than perfect purchase because no one else in any other store had even approached them.

In the short time during which I have returned to the selling floor, the number of “thank you’s“ and “this was fun” heard from the customers in response to our shared experience has reinforced the prevailing discussion that the physical channel will continue to exist.  It’s up to each business to provide the experience worth visiting in every channel.  Happy, informed humans do help.

https://allpoetry.com/poem/8579885-The-Human-Touch-by-Spencer-Michael-Free