19 October 2020

6 Tips from Customers to You to Improve Your Retail Customer Experience

Long lines at store counters are the very worst. So bad, in fact, that Taylor Swift once wrote:

“Say you’ll get more cashiers,
Standing in a long line, staring at the register
One person ringing up,
Say you’ll staff it better, even if it’s just in your wildest dreams.”

Wait, I got those lyrics all wrong. But if she had written those lyrics instead of the ones she actually wrote, she would’ve been right. And long lines are not the only thing your customers wish they could change about your store.

Keep reading to learn things customers really wish were a part of your customer experience.

1. Make stores intended for parents child-friendly.

Coming from a large family, I know just how difficult it is for parents to shop with little kids. When we would go out with one of our parents, it would lead to an interesting, and usually nightmarish, odyssey. Probably comical for a third party observer but not for the cast involved. First, my brothers would run around screaming, playing hide and seek in the racks. If my parent (and the store’s staff) survived this, they would transition into a stream of constant complaints and eventual bickering. We would pass through stores so fast we barely even bought anything. Sometimes, we would be nearly ready to purchase- in the checkout line itself sometimes, only to leave in a rush because my parent couldn’t handle being in the store with the kids anymore.

But what if you made that experience easy for parents? As a store that caters to families, or a store where parents frequently shop, you could consider setting up a small area to keep kids occupied while parents shop in peace. Parents hate feeling embarrassed by their kids, and you certainly don’t want your other customers dealing with children running around and screaming. Having the kids distracted will help the parents want to stay longer and enjoy the experience. Giving a parent an unusually calm shopping experience will even encourage them to continue to visit your store during future shopping trips.

How to do it: Try setting up a small area in the corner of your store with books, maybe some toys, and some crafts. Even just having some crayons and scratch paper is fun for kids.

Bonus: Kids aren’t the only ones who need distraction during shopping trips. As a store that caters to one specific type of person, it’s often good to set up a “Relaxation Station” for the type of people that your client often brings along. For instance, my sister worked in a women’s clothing store for some years, and set up a relaxation station for the husbands and boyfriends of the women who shopped with her. It was just a few comfy chairs, with water bottles, but it was the perfect thing to keep her customer’s partners happy while they shopped.

2. Train your salespeople to build relationships with customers.

Many customers complain about the lack of quality in sales teams. According to Dr. Sean Guillory,

“In-store complaints that primarily focus on subpar service within the retail store — including the perception of unfair, rude or inadequate attention from sales associates — emerged as the second most frequently cited complaint category among the analyses. The perception of in-store failures is ubiquitous among specialty apparel formats.”

Training your sales people to engage with your customers, and to treat your customers well, sets you apart from stores where sales people do not do this, and it’s the best way to make sales. Customers are far more likely to purchase from someone they both trust and like.

How to do it:

  • Teach them to be tactfully honest with your customers. (For a real-life example of what I mean by tactfully honest, read #6 of this post.)
  • Encourage your sales team to sell by considering what’s in the best interest of the customer – not what’s in the best interest of the store. If your salespeople think this way, they’ll be able to sell your customers items that actually add value to the customer’s life. Selling something that adds value to your customer’s life is a win for them, a win for your salesperson, and a win for you.

3. Ditch the Slow Checkout Lines.

Like I mentioned earlier, slow checkout lines are the absolute worst. They’re boring and they give me too much time to reconsider my purchase. I do not know how many potential buys and stores I have ditched simply because of the horrible check-out lines.

How to do it: Invest in mobile registers. Mobile registers will allow your associates to ring their customers up on the floor, which prevents a line from even forming in the first place.

Even with mobile registers, though, it can be hard to prevent lines from forming on very busy days, so here are some things you can do to alleviate the pressure:

  • This one’s simple: Make sure your registers are completely staffed on busy days. I know this can be hard, but it’s important to make it clear to customers that you’re doing everything you can for them. Pulling a stock person onto the floor to run the vacant register is a great visual cue that you’re doing your best.
  • Another simple one: train your staff to interact with the customers in line. Sales associates who smile at your customers and let them know they will be right with them will make customers feel more cared for, and therefore less likely to leave the store.

4. Create safe changing spaces.

A clothing store’s changing rooms are a very unique space – it’s a public location where customers are doing the very private activity of undressing. Additionally, fitting rooms, especially for women, are often the sites of some very real confrontations with anxieties over body image.

No customer wants to feel afraid that someone might stumble in by accident or even have the ability to look under it. A changing room should not be like a locker room where you change in a frenzied hurry barely even looking at what you put on. It should make you feel like your own room, relaxed as though you have all the time in the world.
How to do it: First things first, regardless of what your fitting room looks like, it must be clean. All products should be removed from the room after your customer has left it, and placed on a separate rack to be put away. Your mirrors should be clean and handprint free. The floors should be vacuumed. A clean fitting room is an absolute necessity.

As for non-necessary touches to make your fittings rooms feel safer:

  • Make sure there’s a fitting room attendant. Whether that’s someone permanently stationed back there to remove products, put them away, and wait on customers in the fitting room, or whether your salespeople alternate going back there to check on their clients, this needs to happen. A fitting attendant helps keep everything clean, and makes sure that your customers are getting all the help they need.
  • Use soft lighting and well angled mirrors. Certain lighting and mirror angles can be incredibly unflattering. You want your customers viewing your clothes in the best possible light (literally), and you want them to feel good about themselves. A customer who feels like they look great in something is going to purchase. It’s a win for everyone – you make a sale, and your customer feels good about themselves.
  • Use doors instead curtains. Doors feel much more secure than curtains. If you have to use curtains, it’s best to make sure they go all the way to the floor, and hook on both sides of the door hole. There’s nothing worse than changing in a fitting room where the curtain doesn’t fully cover your room.
  • Offer comfortable seating in the fitting room for guests to sit on. When multiple people are out shopping for just one person, it’s a real boon for the others to be able to sit and relax with the one shopper tries things on.

5. Package your eCommerce sales beautifully.

For eCommerce stores, product packaging is one of the few moments where you get to physically interact with your customer. Your packaging needs to be perfect and reflective of your brand. You want your customer to feel like it’s Christmas, not like they’re receiving the dirty laundry they accidentally left at a friend’s house on a trip.

How to do it:

  • First, make sure that the product is well stowed in the packaging. Clothing should be perfectly folded, for instance, and delicate objects should be safely wrapped in bubble wrap.
  • Depending on your branding, you may want to use some form of fancy paper to wrap the items in before bagging/boxing. For women’s clothing or accessories, you could use pretty tissue paper, for instance, and or for a more masculine vibe, try butcher’s paper.
  • Include content in addition to the purchased products. Many companies these days are including branded printed content pieces in their packaging. Club W, a wine subscription company, for instance, includes cards for each of the wines in your box that describes the flavors in the wine and what the wines go with. They even include a recipe card for a recipe that would go with one of your wines. These type of “freebie” content pieces elevate your experience and show your customers how to integrate your products into their lives.

More?

What other common customer complaints do you hear about customer experience, and how do you think they should be addressed? Let me know in the comments below!

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