Retail Observer

September 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM SEPTEMBER 2014 44 Libby Wagner Culture Coach Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures. RO S mart business owners know there are really only three ways to differentiate yourselves in the market place and to have your customers see you as distinct from your competitors: products, services and relationships. What is excellent service? What is memorable enough that your customers will not only increase their loyalty to you, but also recommend you to others without your enlisting their help? 1. Know your stuff 2. Make me feel special 3. Anticipate my needs In the western U.S., Safeway grocery stores show up in just about every neighborhood. They are pretty ordinary as far as groceries are concerned. They typically have cheaper prices and do not draw the organic-locally-sourced-gourmet-deli-item-shoppers willing to pay $10 for Marcona almonds. However, all Safeway clerks are taught to answer your questions specifically. They don't just say, "Oh, that's on aisle seven." They stop what they are doing: "That's on aisle seven, half-way down, on the next-to-last shelf. Can I take you there?" Off they go with you in tow. It's more likely you'll make a purchase if you can actually find capers or anchovy paste, so it's in everyone's best interest to make your wishes their top priority. No matter how wonderfully easy Uber car service is, I'm loyal to the London Black Cabs and their encyclopedic cabbies. Their rigorous three-year training means they know their stuff. I've had the most interesting chats about theater from the back of a cab! They recommend restaurants, special sites and show tickets. They know history, royal gossip and hot nightspots. Not talking to a cab driver might be a good strategy in New York City, but in London you're foregoing one of the best service experiences by not engaging with your cabbie. Nordstrom is famously known for their service, with a long history for this reputation, despite being a fourth-generation family business in a fiercely competitive retail space. I can go anywhere to buy a skirt or shoes, and it's likely to be less expensive if you shop at a big discount store, or lower-end retailer, but Nordstrom makes me feel special. When I meet my personal shopper, Lisa, she's ready with a glass of Perrier, outfits in my size, in my favorite designers or styles, hanging on the hooks before I arrive. Even if I drop by, she will make things happen quickly, anticipating what I might like based on the season, my prior purchases and interests. She reaches out with a personal note or call to let me take advantage of the annual anniversary sale. Of course, I spend money with her. On a recent trip to Ireland, I took a walking tour with local Michael (pronounced mee-hall in Irish). On a gorgeous sunny day, I was the only person who showed up for the tour, so instead of a potential €200, he was likely going to make only €10 from my single fee. Off we went on my private walking tour of Galway. As we visited, he went "off script" and found things to share that I would particularly enjoy: Galway was the sister city of Seattle? There was a plaque to show it. Want to see where famous Irish writer James Joyce's sweetheart lived? The spot where JFK stood only six months before his assassination in Dallas? All of these stories were woven in the thousands' year historical stories of the fourteen tribes of Galway, the Ferocious O'Flahertys, and the ancient stones of the city walls left in the Spanish Arch. The two-hour tour stretched a bit as he reminded me it was a "walk and talk" tour and he shared whatever came to him as we walked along. I had a special meeting spot for later, and instead of just pointing out the street or mentioning a right or left turn, he walked me there himself, handing me off to my delighted friends. Another differentiator in these service examples is important to note: each of these providers of service felt genuinely and sincerely interested in me. Were they trying to make a sale? Absolutely. But I never, ever felt sold; I felt special in every case! ABOVE AND BEYOND: TRULY SPECIAL SERVICE

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