Friday NAMM Breakfast Session Encourages MI Retailers To Be A Little Better Every Day

NASHVILLE — Some out there believe Amazon will someday rule the world. But don’t count Doug Fleener of Sixth Star Consulting one of them. The Friday Summer NAMM Breakfast Session speaker acknowledged retail has become a commoditized business but he offered 10 ways MI retailers can rise above the fray and differentiate themselves in the future.

But even before presenting these tips, Fleener, during a session entitled “The Connected Consumer: Customer Experience in an Online World,” said retailers follow three principles:

  1. Be a human company. Remember everything we sell is because it affects someone by bringing joy and letting them express themselves. “Make sure the customer knows who is behind your business,” he said. “Show who the owner and employees are. If you want employees to give a smile, treat them great. Also, give back to your world, the community and this industry.”
  2. Leverage, but don’t be driven by technology. “How does technology make things easier for the customer and how does it make company more efficient and profitable,” said Fleener.
  3. Create a culture of being “even better.” “Every day, focus your team on getting better. Imagine, if every day, your employees try to get better than yesterday and deliver a better experience than yesterday,” he said.

Customer experience drives sales, added Fleener. A survey showed that when a customer gives a grade of nine or 10 on a scale of one to 10 for service, they spend 2.4 times more than when they give a grade of one to three.

The 10 Tips

If MI retailers can only take one bit of advice, making it easy, tip No. 1 is the one, noted Fleener.

“It’s not just about convenience. It’s about how easy it is to make a customer buy, return and contact you. You need to constantly remove barriers.

Also, under the making it easy header, Fleener provided the following advice.

  • Make it easy to purchase/rent. Make sure customers can do business with you anywhere any time. Businesses open only 10-6 will be in a little bit of trouble.
  • Reduce steps. Everything we do, a customer keeps score. How difficult it is to do business really adds up. “I want to challenge you to find barriers,  of doing business with you and try to eliminate them,” he said.
  • Reserve appointments. Customers can reserve appointments to see the product and make sure it’s ready to see with an associate at a given, scheduled time.
  • Terms and payments. How to make it easy to purchase the product.
  • Free or “exchange”shipping. The future will be about same-day delivery. Nobody wants to wait a long time. The connected consumer believes they shouldn’t pay for shipping.
  • Make it easy to return with a policy that’s as generous as generous as possible.
  • Make it easy to contact you via online chat and video chat. Fleener said he highly recommends video chat, which is cheap for retailers to implement. He also encourage phone calls to make a better connection with the customer.
  • Make it easy to learn/discover. Introduce a new product every day. Video will be a major source for customers in future. Do video product introductions of every product if possible
  • Virtual classes can be another tool.

Returning to the 10 tips, Fleener said No. 2 is: Stop asking permission to deliver a great experience. Proactively deliver the great experience. Make it “Let me get you this instead of may I get you this.” Change it from a question to statement.

  1. Make a great first impression with consistency in all “doors” via phone, email and chat. “How may I help you is no good when answering the phone. Just answer the phone with employee name. You will move to an emotional connection. Get on a first-name basis,” he said.
  2. Learn each customer’s unique story. Personalize the experience for them. It’s about the person and the right product for them.
  3. Curate and personalize. “Businesses don’t communicate well why it’s better to buy product from you. Think about how your staff helps people choose the right product.”
  4. Strive to exceed every customer’s expectations. Companies don’t try to exceed expectations. Employees need to think what else can they can do to make it a better experience.
  5. Personal shopper/rep clienteling. A small percentage of customers are vital to your business who spend more money. Treat all of your customers well and your best customers even better. Give them someone that’s really important to them. Fleener gave the example of top customers receiving concert tickets and even relayed a story whereby a retailer took top customers out to dinner. “Are you showing enough attention to top customers? [Also], every top customer should be assigned to an employee. Know when they are in the store. We have to drive more visits,” said Fleener.
  6. ACE everyday: Activities, Commotions Events

Make sure something happening every day in your store. To come up with ideas regarding determining which events to celebrate, Fleener recommends MI retailers pick up “Chase’s Calendar of Events.”

  1. Extend your physical experience into customers’ hands. This can increase traffic if a customer sees something new presented by someone they know.
  2. Make experience improvement everyone’s job. You can’t spend all the time thinking about products. “Not enough time is spent thinking about elevating the customer experience,” said Fleener.

The gap between retail “have and have nots” will get wider,” concluded Fleener. “You have to know what you offer is different. Believe you can win.”

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