Retail Observer

May 2021

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

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Page 47 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM MAY 2021 48 I love Tom Peters' book The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence. The premise is that nothing he writes will be profoundly new, but sometimes all we need is a reminder or reframing to spark ingenuity or change. In one chapter, Peters lists 46 strategies for dealing with the Great Recession. There are many good tips for businesses, and also for individuals who just want to be good humans. But one idea particularly struck me as we work our way back from all that 2020 and 2021 have thrown our way. "You re-double and re-triple your efforts to 'walk in your customers' shoes.'" We all do this, don't we? Yes, we view our websites as the first introduction to our stores, and we work hard to make sure our customers are able to find what they need. We spend energy on making the showroom look amazing and inspirational. We even pivoted to address the fears and anxiety of shopping at the peak of COVID-19 – can we say BOPIS?! But is there even more opportunity to win raving fans, despite the challenges that retail is still facing today? I say, yes – resoundingly so. With social distancing, inventory shortages and supply chain delays, the retail world has been increasingly tough. Compound this with increased spending focused on the home, and the pressure to delight customers will take renewed focus. With so much out of our control, what can we do to ensure a great customer experience? LET'S EMBRACE THE LEMONS AND MAKE THE BEST LEMONADE! 1. Tell them exactly what they want to know. Shoppers have become significantly more digitally savvy and want to cut through the clutter. Use your advertising to promote what you have in stock or with quick delivery. Share realistic delivery outcomes and explain why things are taking so much longer than previously. Don't sugar-coat the situation; each customer should feel they made an informed purchase decision. 2. Stay in contact once the sale has been made. This may be the most influential phase regardless of the time that's required. Is the delivery still weeks out? Use the time to surprise and delight with frequent updates on where things stand. A call from the sales rep with a short update will likely defuse the customer's frustration over lack of visibility. Rinse and repeat every two weeks or so until delivery is scheduled. Empathy, clear communication and frequency are the most critical factors to winning fans at this phase. 3. When the delivery day arrives, make it memorable. They've likely been waiting two to three times longer than they originally planned when they came in to purchase, and the day is finally here. Make it a celebration. Consider the impact that a single rose and thank-you card from the salesperson would make. Or set aside some marketing funds to create a gift box with cookies, cupcakes or locally famous snacks to be delivered with the product. Small touches like these can take what might be a negative customer survey experience due to the delays, and turn it into a positive feel-good event that the customer is likely to share. 4. Encourage your sales reps to reach out to the customer six weeks post-delivery. Why? The product has been delivered! Well, this step will aid in customer retention efforts for years to come. At this point the salesperson is someone the customer recognizes and trusts. Use this touchpoint to ensure complete satisfaction and encourage them to shop with this trusted employee again. For fans of Tom Peters, none of this is groundbreaking, but sometimes a reminder can spark our own ideas, and that's what I hope all retailers will take from this. While we can't control much of what's happening in retail today, we can make some pretty sweet lemonade for our customers and neighbors. TO WIN WITH CUSTOMERS, EMBRACE THE LEMONS Even when factors are out of your control Amanda Evans B2C Marketing RO Amanda Evans, Director of Marketing Nationwide Marketing Group

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