Customer Experience in Retail – Small Actions with BIG Impact!

How Digital has changed our Lives – for the Better!
December 24, 2018

Since the day I decided to start my journey towards setting up my own Business Venture, I have come to realize that there is one common factor that differentiates the best from the average companies: Customer Experience. (And…well, Steve Jobs seems to agree :))

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”– Steve Jobs (Co-Founder & CEO, Apple Inc.)

Retail Industry is no different. With increased competition in the retail business, attracting new customers and retaining old ones has become an everyday challenge for retailers. Online and brick & mortar stores are rising at an exponential rate across the globe and are transforming the way we come in contact with retail companies. There is very little differentiation in the retail market with each company claiming that they have the best products and using that very superior quality claim to justify premium prices. Those unable to do so engage in price wars. The overall customer experience, then, becomes ever more critical and the differentiating factor.

So, what do we mean by Customer Experience?

Customer experience includes every point of contact at which the customer interacts with the business, product, or service. Both, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos (Founder & CEO, Amazon), believed that the secret to a successful customer-centric company lies in prioritizing a unique customer experience.

 

“Do NOT sell what everyone’s buying – Empathize so that you may understand what the unique customer is looking for.”

 

A positive Customer Experience leads to higher customer satisfaction, returning customers, greater market share and eventually higher profits.

customer-service-dial

Take any Customer-Centric Retail Store in the world and you would instantly have that feeling of: “Hey! How can we help you?” The most important part for all the best retailers is one word: “YOU” – The Customer. (Unfortunately, Customer Experience is mostly missing in Pakistan Retail Stores – although there are companies have started to pick up).

Few factors contributing towards Customer Experience:

1.    Employee Attitude

Employees are the public face of the Retail Store as they are the ones coming directly in contact with the customers. Informed and well trained employees will communicate confidence and satisfaction to customers.

2.    Sales Staff Engagement

Upon entering the store, customers notice immediately the carefree attitude of the employees if they are lurking behind counters, chatting with each other or are using their phones. Immediately connecting with customers by greeting them and inquiring about their needs lets the customer know that the sales staff is interested in assisting them.

3.    Emotional Intelligence

Price reductions, discounts and promotional offers may boost sales in the short term but they don’t help in maintaining a long-term customer relationship. Highlighting how buying a specific product would add value to a customer’s life / routine and speaking with Empathyis a great way of making sure that the customer leaves the store with not just a product but an experience. Knowing Your Customer becomes a key contributor towards Empathizing.

While the aforementioned factors affect the experience of the customers within the store, external factors cannot be ignored. Due to increased use of cars in metropolitan cities, major retail areas suffer from congestion. Overcrowded urban cities and subsequent parking facilities encompassing business areas reduce accessibility for both customers and employees, as well as for service and delivery vehicles. 

The Impact of Car Parking Spaces on Retail Shopping

Retail businesses are often located near one another as they stand a better chance of attracting customers from neighboring competitors. They not only share customers but also common location and infrastructure facilities such as car parking area.

Customers benefit from a joint parking area as it helps them explore several shops in the vicinity without having to individually drive to each. Finding a suitable spot to park your car can be a cumbersome task especially on a weekend when the parking lots are brimming to their full capacity. While local development authorities focus their energies on converting large swaths of land into parking lots, the influx of shoppers from remote areas, facilitated by geographical mobility, poses an ever-increasing demand on under sized parking lots. 

Parking pic Compressed

Significance of Car Parking Spaces to Retailers

Parking measures such as parking spaces, costs, duration and location, affect the shopping behavior of customers in many ways, including:

  1. Choice of a shopping destination: the general convenience and, in some cases, cost of parking affect the selection of a shopping destination. Other factors include time spent in searching for a vacant spot, the general security conditions and the walking distance between parking lot and the shopping area.
  2. In the absence of sufficient parking space, shoppers would prefer public transport, cycles, motor bikes or walking. This limits the number of bags they can carry and affect sales. Conversely, it may also lead to frequent trips.
  3. Difficulty in finding a suitable space for parking will stress potential shoppers. They will enter a store, get frustrated, feel lost and eventually leave without purchasing much.
  4. Even stores with the friendliest staff, latest products and competitive prices will flounder in the absence of an efficiently managed parking space.

As I stated before, car parking may seem to be a very small factor in the overall Customer Experience but one which ultimately adds up and builds Customer Experience itself.

I mean just How many times exactly do I have to circle a parking area in my car before I can actually find a parking spot??? 🙂 – especially when I am in a hurry!

Here’s a GREAT Video by “Temkin Group” talking about Customer Experience:

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and experiences about the Car Parking issue in your locality – and Customer Experience in General!!! 🙂

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