BrainTrust Query: Building ‘Braggable’ Stores

Apr 16, 2012

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Retail Contrarian, the blog of the Dynamic Experiences Group.

Excessive self-importance turns me off, but I like to hear people share their pride in their accomplishments. Hearing people cross that line when they’re bragging about the company they work for or the stores where they shop is music to my ears. There is no better advertisement, or more effective recruiting method, than a bragging customer and/or employee.

When someone is bragging about your store(s) you can be sure you’re doing a lot of things right. As a matter of fact, getting the people who work for you or shop with you to want to brag about you requre the same actions. Here are five elements that contribute to your store’s “braggability.”

  1. Making an emotional connection. It’s not “a” store, it’s “my” store. When your employees and customers feel that connected, it’s easy for them to extend your mission and experience beyond the store.
  2. Surprise and delight. Never underestimate the impact unexpected small gestures make on customers and employees alike.
  3. Consistently exceeding people’s expectations. Things like anticipating needs, simplifying work and shopping, and remaining focused on delivering the best possible work and shopping experience are vital to creating bragging moments.
  4. Don’t disappoint them. It sometimes happens that people’s expectations are higher than you can or are willing to meet but, more often than not, dissapointment results when you take your eye off the customer or employee experience.
  5. Regular communication. It’s your job to keep reminding your customers and your employees why you’re braggable. Remind customers with newsletters, social media, cards and calls. When done well, that results in even more bragging. For employees, communication is an essential part of keeping connected and reminding them what’s so special about the store/company they work for.

Discussion Questions: What makes a store “braggable” to employees and customers?

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16 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Building ‘Braggable’ Stores"

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Joan Treistman

This article is soooo retro. I love it. “Exceeded expectations” and “delight” characterize what it was and what it is to achieve bragging rights. Interestingly it comes naturally when you’ve accomplished making people feel good about their experience in your store … over and over again. In some ways it’s so simple and in the same way it’s so right. It takes just about 30 seconds upon entering a store for a customer to know whether the retailer cares about their experience or not.

Adrian Weidmann

People can take ownership of an experience anytime, as a customer or an employee. One of the easiest efforts that can be made, yet is rarely taken advantage of, is to actually talk and listen to your customers and employees. Both are living at the exact point and time of engagement and their thoughts and opinions will lead to a better retail experience. Any time either a customer or employee experiences one of ‘their’ ideas that has actually been implemented, you can bet the loyalty factor just went up and they will share that excitement with their friends and family!

Ken Lonyai

This is a well written article that focuses on the key elements that trigger “bragging.” Yes, in the end, it’s about user experience. It’s great experiences that build friendships, keep families close, and even cause consumers to become steady shoppers and brand advocates.

Employees that go to work happy, project their mood to coworkers and customers. Customers that have great experiences share them with friends and contacts, in person and now online. It’s the circle of life on the retail floor.

There’s no faking these experiences and they’re not happenstance. They originate at the very top of the management chain as important (critical!) objectives that are as key to a retailer’s identity as a logo or physical environment. They are recognized, given focus and importance, and pushed by directive and often by example down the line to the customer. Where there is no top-down approach, user experience rests upon very wobbly legs and is inevitably going to crash.

Gene Hoffman
Gene Hoffman
5 years 6 months ago

For store employees, give them a “N.Y. Yankee” uniform and expect them to live up to its high expectations. People arise to personal emotional challenges. Their pride initiates rising to unique accomplishments that convert into “braggability.”

For customers, “Oh, give me something to remember you by when I am far, far away.” Introduce new happy events and experiences for customers on every visit.

Too many retailers think that the whole gamut of the emotions is from A to B. That’s why they aren’t “braggable.”

Ed Rosenbaum

This goes to customer service in many ways. Serving the customer with not only the right products and prices; but being able to speak to them knowledgeably about it so they make the correct decision.

I was caught in thought as I read this about two particular brands. One tells us in commercials it is “their CVS” pharmacy. Yet when you shop there rarely does anyone attempt to help or even make eye contact. I guess it is “their CVS” because they are one of the few shoppers we see when we do occasionally go there. The other is Best Buy, struggling to get back to where they think they should be. It will not happen until knowledgeable customer service improves.

Ryan Mathews

The simple answer is, “Consistent quality and an understanding and commitment to ongoing customer satisfaction.”

But — with all due respect — that shouldn’t be the key to operating a “braggable” store, it’s table stakes to being a successful retailer. Most people need to quit operating, “kvetchable” stores before they delude themselves of dreaming about running “braggable” units.

Anne Howe

There is a somewhat pricey specialty food store two miles from my house that was formerly a small Kroger. Every employee in the store asks “did you find everything you were looking for today” and based on the answers, the store adjusts its merchandising mix to suit the shoppers. Does it have every single thing? No. Does it have shoppers who brag? You bet. Plus it had the best wine prices in town and a Facebook and Twitter staff that answers questions quickly and with great information!

Am I willing to pay a little more to shop there? Not all the time, but when I do I am a happy shopper!!!

Ralph Jacobson

Bottom line: THE BRAND. Anyone remember the 3,000 people, most of whom already gainfully employed, who lined up outside the 5th Avenue Apple Store waiting for job applications to try for the some 400 positions available?

Fabien Tiburce
Fabien Tiburce
5 years 6 months ago

Interesting topic, but I wouldn’t have picked these particular criteria in this day and age. I would have picked:

#1 be genuine. Don’t oversell or over market. Just show you genuinely care about the customer’s well being and are doing everything you can to satisfy her/him.

#2 be fair. Be fair to the customer. Treat her/him well. Not just with competitive pricing but with good and thoughtful service.

#3 be consistent. You shouldn’t have too many “off” weeks in your calendar. Be consistent with your service and merchandising standards.

Ed Dennis
Ed Dennis
5 years 6 months ago

A store becomes braggable when the consumer feels they have been treated well. You can build anything you want, but unless your customer is delighted you won’t be braggable. Everyday, I see “come-ons” saying if you employ this silver bullet (affinity cards, gas savings, accumulating discounts, etc.) you will thrive. These seem to be used by retailers who have given up on earning success and decided that success must be bought.

There is a tried and true formula and it is hire well, then train well. Any business that follows strict practices with regard to hiring and training will succeed and some will become braggable. Look at McDonald’s for gosh sakes. They know how to hire and they know how to train and they know the value of career pathing. Now I am not saying that people openly brag about McDonald’s, they certainly aren’t ashamed to go there or be seen there or even suggest it as a destination. If you want to be braggable, then take a long hard look at McDonald’s and see what they are doing right, then apply it to your store.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.

Is the answer really an unknown; providing the right product at the right time at the right price in a desirable shopping environment? There are no shortcuts.

Lee Peterson

It boils down to one thing: employees — you have to really care about them. Not just say you do, but actually, emotionally care. As best in class examples; Publix cares enough to share profits, Starbucks cares enough to provide insurance, and they seem to be doing pretty well. If you actually care about your employees, they will take care of everything else. And if you don’t, they won’t.

Doug Fleener

Thanks everyone for your comments and insight. I love Joan’s first comment about it being “retro” as I wanted to show that as things change the more they stay the same.

I also appreciated Ryan’s “kvetchable” description. I think that could be a discussion in itself!

Roy White
Roy White
5 years 6 months ago

Here is my contribution to what makes a store “braggable:”
Courteous, helpful employees who know the store and know what they are doing
Employees, especially checkers, that can relate to, and get to know, regular customers
Have some “treasure hunt” products on a regular basis
Fully stocked shelves with the right products
Competitive pricing
No EDLP, promotions that make the store exciting to shop in
A good website, easy to use packed with useful information
Use of all communication vehicles, especially social media
High standard of housekeeping
A highly interactive loyalty program that provides the shopper with the right products, deals and information
A responsive store management that is on top of everything 24/7
A store with a personality that shopper can identify and identify with.

Mark Burr
5 years 6 months ago

When all the factors discussed in the article and comments are met, it boils down to the experience of the customer. A great retailer leaves the customer thinking of the experience they have had rather then the price they paid whether or not it was high or low. The end result is that the retailer will never have to brag about themselves, the customer will do it for them.

If in delivering all these things the associates are rewarded for their effectiveness, they will leave each day talking to others. It would likely be comments like “You won’t believe what they did for me at work today!”

There are few that pull this all off. When they do, we all talk about them. We all know who they are. It’s only sad that they are few.

Mark Price

The key elements that make a store “braggable” to employees and customers are the same. Having and presenting a consistent mission and empowering employees to deliver astonishing customer experience results in a highly pleasurable experience to both the employees who give the service and the customers who receive it.

I believe the key word is “authenticity.” People are craving authentic relationships in their lives, whether with the companies they work for, or the companies they buy from. Authenticity is not highly structured or controlled; you cannot beat your employees into delivering it nor can you buy off your customers and convince them they have received it.

For a company to demonstrate authenticity in the store, they must demonstrate it in all communications, compensation, rewards and recognition. Otherwise, it will be exposed as phony, and in this digital age, phony ends up on Facebook fast.


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