Your Retail Service Strategy Needs To Be Homegrown
There are always public relations releases, financial analyst reports on retail stocks, news articles on retailers and opinion editorials about retailing making a comeback?
Certainly, if all retailers are making a comeback, why are the majority still posting inadequate results?
Let’s assume that a retailer posted a plus two percent (+2.0%) in comparable sales growth. Is +2.0% comp not good?
Should we get excited? Would I run out an invest in that company? No!
I can get a business there in a number of ways, and the easiest is to increase prices and lower discounts.
More importantly, you can still get there even after factoring a drop in traffic.
Thank you very much, done! This strategy only buys time it corrects nothing!
The problems begin when you can’t repeat that performance for the long-term.
Do I know what I am talking about? Yes I do.
I believe that retailers large and small, desperate and not so desperate are all searching for something fresh to grow their business.
Regrettably, they are buying into bad ideas, and or chasing clone strategies, either way it is a mistake.
To start I am going to be very bold and state that technology is not going to engage consumers by storm and win the day.
Technology has a place, 100%. But not how it is being depicted.
Besides who has the financial resources to spend millions, on a one way trip, that could be wrong?
Businesses in any industry cannot grow by chase hope and hype.
I have said it before and I will keep saying it, in every article, interview and presentation I make. If your strategies are not right and homegrown, like customer service.
You are going to fail.
Your Customer Experience Is Flawed!
I have read a lot about and studied the concept of “customer experience.”
To make my point, “Customer Experience” it is just a generic term for a whole basket of ideas and no specific direction.
Unless you paid someone to give you that direction, which by the way doesn’t guarantee you will succeed.
Right now I am going to break a rule. I usually don’t give away anything that I do in presentations.
But here it is.
Service needs to be not just an experience; it needs to be a “priceless experience.”
What does that mean?
Your service proposition is so good, that there is no way a consumer will pass on your offer for a competitor with a lower price.
Think about that! Your service is so exceptional that a consumer will be willing to pay for it.
If you doubt it, let me tell you another secret, luxury and premium brands do it all day, everyday.
Service Must Be Homegrown
Retail has too many moving parts for anyone from outside the company to get your service strategy right.
In fact, before you go out and hire someone with a customer experience background or a consultant. Consider promoting a couple of the best service driven retail managers from your stores and team them up with a project manager, marketing, training and someone from operations.
You will get there faster to a “priceless service model” this is both proprietary and more sustainable.
By the way if you take me up on this, do one more thing. Make the retail managers in charge of the task-force.
Of course someone is going to attack this idea.
That the managers will be biased, not enough experience, no knowledge in identifying the traits needed to develop the concept etc. etc. etc.; say’s the consultant who didn’t get the contract or the person you didn’t hire.
Why will this succeed?
Because, it will not be received as a book of the month club initiative or someone who doesn’t understand your business.
It will be a “priceless service model” made for your brand by the best people, with the best practices that they know will work.
What’s even better about this tactic? Your people will likely buy in faster.
What’s Inside A Priceless Service Experience?
Everything you believe that your customers deserve for you to receive the full price for your products and services.
I know it sounds simple.
Here are some guidelines:
1. Build a culture of “trust for your products and services.
2. Make the service attributes you define, easy to follow and deliver.
3. Determine your own internal “Reliability Quotient” (copyright, George Minakakis) to deliver consistently ( you will have to wait for the book on this one).4. Learn to close the sale, make sales people out of your retail staff. Too many retail associates are just product runners.
Measure how many sales each associate closes. Make that the normal way of measuring performance.
5. Whatever you pursue, it needs to be delivered consistently throughout the organization. If it’s not, it will fail as would an external program for the same reasons.
Build A Retail Service Culture That Will Win
- Stop pursuing everyone else’s ideas. The more authentic the service offer, the more likely you will be in a position to win.
- Don’t rely on technology alone. It isn’t going to drive traffic and return customers by itself.
Only two things drive traffic and returning customers.
– a priceless service experience, the right products and trust in your business as a brand.
- Refrain from listening to anyone who has never led or owned a retail business when it comes to strategies on build sales and service.
For that reason, I wouldn’t send my teams to a meeting where the presenters haven’t walked in our shoes.
- Curb any behaviour on your team that isn’t supportive of the culture and strategies you need to pursue.
- If your missing something in execution, it’s because you are not digging deep enough with the right questions.
Get out to the stores and find out!
- Protect internal communication, the message should be owned by the CEO. Keep the message simple “sales and service”
- Halt all things that are not about delivering service and growing sales. Stop them!
- Correct poor service behaviours, coach and model the way for your people.
- All store visits from the office must have an agenda that is primarily to review, discuss and participate in sales and service.
- Acknowledge and celebrate stores and people for doing the right things.
My name is George Minakakis, I lead retail brands into the new economy for a living.
Look for my new book its title and publishing date to be announced soon.