The in-store experience  is key to retail success today — but are your employees doing their part to deliver? Employees can make your customer experience memorable for good reasons…or for bad ones.
Impact of Employees on Retail Experience
The InMoment CX 2018 Trends Report  took a look at both consumers’ and businesses’ opinions of customer experience, expectations and what makes a good experience. If you’re convinced your store needs bells and whistles like virtual reality simulators, self-checkout options or trendy pop-up shops, think again: “Across age and gender, human beings leave the most significant and longest lasting impression on your customers,” the survey reports.
What Makes a Positive, Memorable Retail Store Experience?
The report draws a distinction between merely satisfying customers and creating a memorable experience. Good news: The majority (68%) of consumers in the survey say they had a positive, memorable experience with a business within the last year. Not so good news: Businesses estimated that 84% of their customers had positive, memorable experiences with them.
Of course, bad experiences can also be memorable, and almost half (49%) of consumers in the survey say they had at least one negative, memorable experience with a business in the last year.
The survey asked consumers which factors of the shopping experience are valuable and memorable. Some of the high-tech aspects of retail today, such as virtual reality, pop-up stores and mobile or social shopping, were not ranked as memorable. In contrast, consumers say human interaction and “being treated special” are both valuable and memorable aspects of shopping.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers say interaction with staff has highly influenced their purchase decisions. In fact, the top three elements consumers say contribute to a positive, memorable experience all involve the “human factor”:
- Staff interaction
- Access to experts/educators
- Better treatment for loyalty members
What Makes a Not-so-Positive Retail Store Experience?
The survey reveals some big discrepancies between how consumers think businesses are doing and how businesses think they are doing. For instance, just 29% of businesses believe staff interactions with customers are a factor in “lackluster” brand experiences. In contrast, a whopping 74% of consumers say interaction with staff can cause lackluster experiences.
Here are some other top factors consumers say contribute to a lackluster brand experience:
- Lack of understanding my needs: 46%
- Lack of available staff to help when needed: 41%
- Experience was impersonal and generic: 22%
Again, staff can make or break the customer experience.
How to improve the human factor
If you think your employees are unintentionally sabotaging your store with their attitudes, here’s how to turn things around and make your store experience memorable for the right reasons.
- Focus on hiring retail sales staff with good people skills who truly enjoy interacting and helping customers. It’s a lot easier to train a friendly, helpful person to handle checkout or the stockroom than it is to teach a grump how to be nice.
- Reiterate the importance of making customers feel special and devote training to it. Think about ways you can reward employees for making customers feel special and creating memorable shopping experiences for them.
- When choosing technology, steer clear of “tech for technology’s sake.” There are a lot of shiny new toys for retailers right now, but your focus should be on those that help provide memorable customer experiences.
- Leverage outside experts to improve the experience for customers. For example, a housewares store could hold in-store cooking classes to show customers how to use their purchases. A clothing boutique could bring in a rep from one of its most popular lines to do a fashion preview show and style outfits on shoppers.
To create a truly memorable (in a good way) customer experience, remember, as the report states, “Nothing replaces the power of people making other people feel special.”
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