Crafting an Extraordinary Customer Experience


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Last month I was interviewed for a story about a customer experience strategy and training I developed with one of our clients.  I said that even though competition and technology have radically changed retail, the essence of what makes a great customer experience in a specialty store remains the same.  The connection our customer has with the staff and the store environment has – and always will – determine the quality of the customer’s experience.

It got me thinking about what really matters when delivering an extraordinary experience in specialty stores.  Here are few elements that are key.

Authenticity. Is there anything more painful than an unauthentic salesperson?  Most of the time it’s not the employee’s fault, it’s the “system” or “training” they were given. Authenticity is especially important to Gen X and Gen Y customers and employees.  It’s a value that has impacted how we design experiences and trainings for our clients.

Consistency.  I know that I’m relentless about stressing the importance of EVERY customer but at the end of the day retail, like all sales, is a numbers game.  The level of service and experience in most stores is hit or miss.  That means it’s not just hit or miss for the customers, but also for retailers who need to maximize their sales opportunities.

Accountability. One reason many stores deliver an inconsistent experience is because the staff isn’t held accountable to the level of expectations.  As many of you have heard me say in my presentation, people rise to the level of expectations when and if they’re held accountable for it.

Exceptional employees.  There’s no doubt that finding and keeping great retail employees is challenging, but the biggest mistake we can make is not rising to that challenge and lowering our standards.  It’s simple:  You can’t deliver a great experience with mediocre people.   A great customer experience really starts when we’re interviewing job applicants.

Customer-focused leadership. Whatever is most important to the leader of an organization or store is what will be most important to the employees.  The retailers who absolutely excel at delivering great experience are essentially obsessed about their customers.  The customer is the only priority; everything else is less important.

Employee-focused leadership. There is a direct correlation between the quality of the experience an employee receives from his/her manager and company, and the one they deliver to customers.  The more passionate leaders are about the work environment, the more passionate employees are about the customer.

So let me ask two questions. 1) How well are you executing these elements? 2) What would you add to the list? Please share your thoughts below.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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