Retails Hidden Weapon

Taking advantage of customer interaction opportunities

In this Article we’ll explore what I believe is one of the most overlooked weapons for success in retail.

In a post by Simon Jefferson on Forbes.com on Aug 16, 2017, he states “The evolving role of the store means brands should redefine what retail success looks like. Rather than short-term sales, physical spaces should be valued by the role they play in the holistic customer experience and treated as platforms for fostering long-term relationships.”

retail successLet’s focus on the last three words “long-term relationships” after all isn’t that what every retailer wants (Customers that are loyal to the brand)?  The answer is a resounding YES but how is this accomplished?  I believe it comes down to something that our fast paced society tends to overlook.  Think about how YOU personally establish long term relationships.  You meet someone you like, you hang out, establish trust and eventually become friends.  Most people are generally drawn to people who are friendly, outgoing and look at life as the “glass is half full”.

A growing body of research shows that the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water and shelter.  Social interaction is a primal need for humans.  It’s so strong that when we are rejected or experience “social pain” our brains “hurt” in the same way they do when we feel physical pain. (ref: UCLA neuroscientist’s Matthew Lieberman, Author of:  “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect)

If your retail model includes opportunities for customer interaction, you better be taking advantage of it.  Each opportunity for interaction is an opportunity to build a relationship to your brand.  Have you asked yourself why a fast-food company like Chick-Fil-A has become so successful?  The answer is simple but not easy –They build teams that are invested in building their brand.

Chick-Fil-A cares about their employees, they set a high standard by investing time and money the right people then spends more time and money training and assisting them in reaching their goals (even if it’s eventually working for someone other than Chick-Fil-A).  You say that sounds great but how does that translate to more sales.  Simple – Happy employee who genuinely believe you are looking out for their best interest in turn will look out for Chick-Fil-A’s best interest.  I can honestly say that every time I enter a Chick-Fil-A I get a friendly greeting, fast service and quality product.  It makes me want to come back and speak well of them.

Sure Chick-Fil-A has a great product but what keeps people coming back is their experience.  Chick-Fil-A does this so well, they crush their competition.  Here’s some stats to back it up.

  1. Chick-Fil-A outsells their closest competitor 4:1 in per restaurant sales without being open on Sundays.
  2. Chick-fil-A generates more annual revenue than dozens of other chains that have more than twice as many US locations.

So what’s the takeaway for retailers?

  1. Be picky about who you hire. People that interact with your customers should be outgoing, friendly, and grateful with an overall positive demeanor (Personality profile tests can be very helpful).  Who you hire is the cornerstone of your success.
  2. Build a committed team – Investing in your employees builds trust and commitment.
  3. Invest in training – Train your team how to engage with customers build relationships and promote your brand.
  4. Measure and plan for success – Unlike fast food restaurants, retailers must measure performance to provide feedback for further improvements. For reliable measurement, a people counting system with a solid retail analytics platform is a must.
  5. Always ask:
    1. What’s working
    2. What’s not working
    3. How can I fix what’s not working
    4. How can I improve what is working

Finally, if you’re in the brick and mortar retail business don’t forget, the digital experience can be part of your solution for an exceptional customer experience but it doesn’t come close to replacing human interaction for building long term relationships to your brand.

For more information on the Chick-Fil-A success story click here >>

For more information on “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect” click here >>

Joe Varacalli | President, SenSource, Inc.
Guest Contributor

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