BrainTrust Query: Crafting an Extraordinary Customer Experience
Commentary by Doug Fleener, President and Managing Partner, Dynamic Experiences
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.
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
Consistency: I can be 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. People
rise to the level of expectations when and if they’re held accountable for
Exceptional employees: There’s no doubt that finding and keeping great
retail employees is challenging, but the biggest mistake retailers make is
not rising to that challenge and lowering their 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
Discussion Questions: Of the points brought up in the article, which ones
are most important to creating a great customer experience? Are there any you