Thursday, May 31, 2007

Want to engage customers? Here are 12 things NOT to do

Have you read C.B. Whittemore's "Flooring the Consumer" blog yet? Whittemore bills the blog as one focused on, "improving the store experience, particularly in flooring," but believe me, she always has some great insights that are applicable to the majority of retail situations. For example, in a post from a few days ago Whittemore laments the sad state of Wal-Mart, its stores, and its relative indifference to the customer experience, particularly in relation to Target, who has gone to great lengths to keep their own megastores fresh, attractive and inviting. Rather than create a to-do list for errant companies hoping to find their way back to delivering positive customer experiences, Whittemore instead delivers a top-12 what NOT to do list:

  1. Don't allow your stores to become dingy, un-cared for, dated or unpleasant.
  2. Don't create an environment that burdens your consumer.
  3. Don't become complacent and think that good enough is OK.
  4. Don't fall in love with expansion and lose sight of existing stores and customers.
  5. Don't understaff your stores.
  6. Don't focus completely on being the lowest priced retailer.
  7. Don't be a schmuck.
  8. Don't lose touch with the marketplace.
  9. Don't have tunnel vision.
  10. Don't ever underestimate the power of quality, convenience and customer service.
  11. Don't ever alienate your core customer base.
  12. Don't wing it!
Obviously she adds some critical insight to each element of the list, but for that you'll have to read the whole article :) While all of these points are great, my favorite is #12, which seems to be overlooked so often. Rather than just guess at what might work in-store, or implement a huge plan based on a single "great idea" from a company insider, more companies need to implement more a exacting implement -> test -> analyze results strategy to figure out what works. Integrate customer/shopper comments, query in-store staff to gain insight into sales floor techniques, and look for untapped resources and inefficient processes. Above all, be willing to try things that might fail, but also be willing to change them once you've recognized that they actually are failing.

Tags: marketing at retail, in-store marketing, store experience

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