Businesses have long prioritized customer service — “The customer is always right.” But that tends to be where the prioritizing ends. All too many of us have had that experience where you go to find an employee to ask a question and they are either nowhere to be found, or hanging out behind the counter on their phones. It can be a quick turn off, and businesses are realizing that customer “service” may not be what really is important. Businesses are starting to shift their thinking away from customer “service” towards customer “experience.”
Rather than having warm bodies to restock and manage the register, businesses are starting to train their employees to focus more on giving customers a personal and individualized experience from the second they walk past those front doors. Instead of offering just the bare bones of customer service, businesses have begun to invest more in creating a unique shopping experience that just can’t be faked. And it’s not just done by using fancy advertising.
On the simple side of things, improving customer experience can be as easy as training employees to interact with customers in positive and helpful ways. We know how impactful it can be when an employee is attentive, off their phone, smiling and acts like they want to be there. This simple training of customer interactions can go a long way. A good attitude can make an employee even better at their job, because it turns from “the customer is always right” to “how can I help you in the best way possible?” Improving customer experience can also include other simple actions such as keeping the store clean and organized, recognizing that sometimes it’s the little things that can turn away customers like bad smells or sloppiness.
On the other hand, customer experience can also include a bit more complex approaches. Recently, many retail stores have started using intelligent video analytics to analyze customer behavior–watching what areas of the store are most approached and which are avoided. This can give businesses an idea on how better to layout merchandise. Video analytics has also been used in tandem with facial recognition to register customers’ facial responses to advertising, displays or even products. Is that confusion, disgust, or delight?
Another way video analytics has been used within stores is also through the use of beacons. This nifty little technology pairs with smartphones to alert potential customers to sales when they get within a certain number of feet of the front door. It can also alert them to rewards or other discounts when they are standing in front of a specific item or display.
Upfront, the benefits of shifting this focus from customer service to customer experience can be obvious — your employees draw in customers with their attentive, helpful attitudes; your store is inviting with good smells and tidiness; overall, customers enjoy the time they’ve spent in there, which can lead to more time and money spent. Under the surface, the benefits can be a bit more subtle. This focus on customer experience is about giving customers just that, an “experience.” Something that they will remember like an app that gives them rewards just for walking into a store. These little things have great impact as customers will remember how helpful and enjoyable this experience was that they can’t wait to come back!
If we think about the golden rule only, of treating others as we would want to be treated, then focusing on customer experience is nearly a no-brainer. We all enjoy the royal treatment, we all have favorite stores we shop at. So ask yourself why is that? Is it because the employees know your name and your tastes? They won’t push products on you but instead are helpful in finding exactly the right thing for you? Is it because the business offers rewards for loyal customers? Whatever it is, turn that around for your own business and use it to create a better customer experience for your loyal customers today.