At the recent WithIt Conference, we had the pleasure of attending a seminar with retail expert and founder of Retail Minded, Nicole Leinbach Reyhle.
She shared statistics on how customers are shopping these days — a full two-thirds still prefer to shop a physical store, but 53 percent of consumers are influenced by digital — and the loyalty factor is not what it used to be, as only 30 percent of consumers remain loyal to retail brands, no matter how good the customer service. In addition, 54 percent of consumers have higher customer service expectations than they did a year ago, and 89 percent have said they will switch companies due to poor customer service. Your customers rule retail. Just a 5 percent increase in customer retention can add up to 25 percent more to your retail bottom line. So how do you capture and retain those retail customers that are so important to your business?
Leinbach Reyhle has three simple steps for customer success, but she first notes that it’s essential that your employees reflect your values and strategies. Be sure you understand the people who work for you — their strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them and how their past experiences can benefit your business. “Employees are your frontline ambassadors,” she says. “People are one of the last frontiers that separate your business. Are your employees memorable?”
You have one chance to make a first impression with customers. Therefore, Leinbach Reyhle’s first tip is to be star-struck by all of your customers. That consumer walking through your door may not be recognizable from the big screen, but once over your threshold, they are your superstars and need to be addressed as such. “You’ll want to drop everything fast and give that customer the star treatment,” she says. “Look and act happy that they’re there.”
Once your customers are feeling important, you want to follow that initial star-struck reaction by treating them like royalty. Royalty is accustomed to protocols. They have expectations that specific standards are set and being met at any point in an interaction.
“What standards are being set to impress your customers?” Leinbach Reyhle asks. “You need to identify what those standards are and deliver consistent customer care. Even without a sale, you can be memorable.”
It’s important to respect your customers’ space and choices. Pay attention to what they are communicating, either verbally or through body language, to help you understand what they need.
Leinbach Reyhle adds that employee body language matters as well. “Customers are reading the team as well,” she says. Because of this, employees need to be trained to anticipate customer expectations so the customer receives the “royal treatment” from anyone they interact with in your store. “From greetings to goodbyes, identify all of the touch points of the consumer experience.”
The third step to successful customer retention, says Leinbach Reyhle, is getting that customer’s autograph.
“This is easy if you are closing a sale, but sometimes you don’t close the sale,” she notes. “You still don’t want to lose sight of the opportunity to get the customer’s information while she is in your store.”
She suggests having a strategy to capture contact details, such as an email address, by having subtle signage throughout the store that encourages online engagement while customers are shopping. “Have signage that lets customers know if they tag you, they can get 10 percent off today’s purchases. This way all of their friends and followers see they’ve checked in,” Leinbach Reyhle offers as an example of capturing information and gaining promotional reach. Proactive opportunities give customers a reason to want to share their information.
Consumers have many choices on the path to purchase in today’s retail landscape. Understanding your customers and how they shop, as well as providing an experience that resonates can be critical for successful customer retention.