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Tips on Selling














Great customer experience: steps to woo your audience

All retailers want to provide a ‘great customer experience’ but how many deliver on it? David Allen outlines ways to achieve the holy grail of retail.

First of all, it is important to understand that customers – not retailers – build brands; however, if every retailer knows that being obsessed with their customer is the key to success, why aren’t more retailers outrageously successful?

What is it about the ‘name above the door’?

Jewellery retailers should ask themselves: what does the customer see when they are in the store and how do they feel when they visit and leave the store?

Everyone subliminally measures the experience they get when making a purchase from a store. This reaction can be categorised in three ways:

  1. The experience was incredible
  2. The experience was indifferent
  3. The experience was terrible

Most experiences are unfortunately indifferent, and what many retailers don’t realise is that all of these retail experiences are linked to how their customer is made to feel rather than what was purchased or what they paid for the product.

"Retailers don’t need the overused ‘five step’ sales structure."

Many retailers today underestimate the importance of the consumer’s trust and loyalty in connection to the store’s brand, and I believe this is linked to their failings.

While an amount of this trust is built around how a retailer markets and promotes the brands they carry, most of it is created by the salespeople and the interaction that a customer has with them on the shop floor.

So how do business owners instil and strengthen trust and loyalty in a retail store?

The experience that the customer receives is directly linked to how the team feels about where they work – if jewellery storeowners want to engage with their customers then they need to engage with their teams.

Store managers need to be encouraged and empowered to deliver the experience that they believe will transform an indifferent or terrible experience into an incredible and unforgettable experience.

This is a pretty big statement, but let me explain, and actually contrary to popular belief, it is not that difficult to understand or implement. There is no need for process manuals or endless volumes of training materials.


What is needed, and this is the critical part of the recipe of a great customer experience, is of course great people.

Although this sounds a little cliché, it is the one area that retailers seem to have difficulty understanding and which to manage its importance even though they would all suggest that it is a focus.

The two key ingredients are great store managers and, for those retailers with multiple stores or a chain, great regional managers. There are a number of different names for the role of regional manager – area manager is another – but let’s refer to the position as a regional manager for the sake of this discussion.

Many retailers talk about the importance of store managers but understand less about what makes a great store manager.

Further, regional managers are rarely talked about, mentioned, nor given focus. The reality is that this role is critically important; a great regional manager can have an enormous influence on the profitability of a retail business, and a bad one can really do a lot of damage because of their influence on the store manager.

GREAT STORE MANAGERS


The very best store managers are those who are the best at three core competencies: selling, being a merchant and coaching.

In a small footprint retail store everyone contributes, and the store manager must be the most visible person to customers. Retailers should be very wary of the store manager who does not want to be on the shop floor. Store managers should be one of the best sales people within the store day after day and week after week.

In order to maximise sales, they need to understand how to utilise the real estate in their store to best present the products they are selling and they also need to be great coaches as they are responsible for a team of people and the working environment that they create for them.

GREAT REGIONAL MANAGERS

The very best regional managers are those who are the best at the same things that a great store manager is great at: selling, being a merchant and coaching.

If they are not great at these key competence areas then how do they, or could they, set the right example for the store manager and the team to follow? How can they coach a store manager to be a better salesperson if they themselves are not a great salesperson?

In addition to these three core competencies, a great regional manager needs to have strong competence in the areas of business acumen, leadership and negotiation and influence. They are, after all, responsible for a number of stores, and there is a much higher level of profit and loss accountability, stakeholder management and leadership.

"Where possible, retailers should recruit ‘their customer’ so they can then sell to the customer."

A great regional manager also needs to be present, genuine and effective.

What does it mean to be effective? This is important as the way that a regional manager uses their time has a big impact on how empowered a store manager feels.

A regional manager’s number one priority is the store manager; the centre of their focus is the store manager, while the team members in the retail store are the responsibility of the store manager.

Many regional managers don’t understand this concept, which can degrade empowerment for staff members.

It is the regional manager’s role to coach the store manager to manage their own team and this should include training on the recruitment of store teams.

The very best regional managers work with the store manager in such areas and decisions, empowering them to choose their own people.

Some regional managers don’t understand the difference between coaching and doing. The regional manager does not run the store, the store manager does.

So, jewellers who have empowered great store managers and regional managers have some of the critical ingredients to a great customer experience.

LOSE THE ‘WAY OF SELLING’


For a great customer experience, retailers don’t need the overused ‘five step’ sales structure. In fact, retailers don’t need a selling process or a physical mystery shopping process, which is archaic because it is not real!

They need to empower store managers to look after their customers. The definition of a great customer experience is individual to every store. Let the team be the best version of themselves, making sure that they understand it is okay to do so.

A customer recalls a great experience because a team member was genuine in their approach, not because a team member asked an open-ended question.

Empowerment, however, must be supported by knowledge otherwise it is irresponsible. It is the storeowner’s responsibility to provide the knowledge – great store managers and great regional managers need to be developed.

GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Let’s summarise the philosophy of a great customer experience:

  • A great customer experience is the responsibility of the entire organisation. Retailers who want to engage with customers need to engage with their team, because, as previously mentioned, what the customer is saying is directly related to how employees feel about where they work. The stores should be positioned as the beating heart of the business and store managers should be openly empowered to look after their customer. Where possible, retailers should recruit ‘their customer’ so they can then sell to the customer. Employ people who love the store’s brand, or if they are unfamiliar with the store’s brand give them a reason to love the brand by treating them well. Focus should be placed in the areas of compensation, incentives, reward, recognition as well as learning and development.
  • Selling skills are very important because, after all, in retail that is what retailers do – they sell. Developing a toolbox of training materials with a selection of selling tips and skills needs to be created and utilised. Jewellers don’t need a ‘way of selling’ – the steps of the sale or a sale process – they need some practical selling advice, a great working environment and to be empowered to look after their customer. It is as simple as that.
  • Measure the customer experience in the right way. Measure the financial results and find a way to measure how the customer was made to feel. An important part of this is making sure that the team works within the boundaries of a small number of financial KPIs. Simplicity is key and the store’s team should be measured on a small number of financial KPIs.

Providing customers with a great experience is the role of every person employed by the business. Recruit people who are passionate – or are given a reason to be passionate – about the store’s brand.

Provide the team with skills and the know-how to measure the experience, as well as the financials and KPIs, and empower retail store managers to deliver a great customer experience for their customers.












ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Allen

David Allen is president of Pandora’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region. He was appointed to this newly created position in 2015 and prior to that, was Pandora Australia and New Zealand president. Before entering the jewellery industry, Allen had extensive experience in Australian retail, having worked for companies including Pretty Girl Fashion Group, Woolworths and Colorado Group.









Monday, 18 December, 2017 07:39pm
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