Building a company that is a great place to shop for customers and a great place to work for employees shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. You shouldn’t neglect to cultivate one at the expense of the other, either. Instead, building a brand that customers and employees love starts by focusing on one denominator that’s common to both: the in-store experience.
Here are just some of the initiatives you can take to build better in-store experiences for your customers and employees, and why you should do so.
Creating Great In-Store Experiences for Customers
Customers today are looking for companies to provide great experiences that can draw them into the store, delight them while they’re there, and make them want to come back. About four out of five customers say that the experience a company provides is just as important as its products or services. Creating great in-store experiences may look like the following:
Great customer service: One of the biggest differentiators of a great in-store experience is customer service. Customers don’t want to wander around the store looking for help or feel unwelcome when they step into your store. They’re looking for friendly, positive associates who are eager to help them find the products and services they’re looking for, and leave feeling better than when they came in.
Fun and engaging atmosphere: Create a great in-store atmosphere as well. At the very least, make sure your store is clean, the shelves are well-stocked, there’s clear signage, and it’s easy to navigate. Add decor, lighting, music, digital displays, interactive kiosks, live demos, or other elements that can turn shopping or dining into an experience.
Special discounts and offers: Incentivize customers who come into your brick-and-mortar with special discounts, products, or offers that they can’t find online. In our recent report on the “State of Consumer Behavior,” being offered exclusive in-store discounts or products are some of the top ways customers say a business can encourage them to visit.
Personalization: Customers are looking for personalization, and 78% of customers say they would likely buy again from a brand that targets their interests and needs. Create those personalized experiences with high-touch customer service. Or give customers options for how they want to shop by offering buy online/pick up in-store options, or self-checkouts. Look at ways you can allow customers to personalize your products or offerings, too.
Technology for frictionless experiences: Leverage technology to help make their experiences more efficient and frictionless. Show menus on digital signage so that customers can see up-to-date items and prices. Offer digital kiosks where they can look up where products are in the store or place an order. Self-service checkouts can help them get in, out, and on their way quicker.
Creating Great In-Store Experiences for Employees
As you focus on creating great experiences for your customers, think about creating great experiences for your employees as well. Why? Having a place where employees feel supported, heard, and enabled to do their best work creates happier, more engaged employees. Engaged employees help create more profit, are more productive, and demonstrate less turnover, less product shrinkage, and less absenteeism. And it has been shown that the more satisfied the employees are, the more satisfied the customers will be.
Here are a few of the ways you can create great experiences for your employees:
A positive culture: Start by focusing on building a positive culture that they feel eager to participate in. That means a work environment where staff is having fun, morale is high, and they feel connected to the brand and its mission. It’s also important to make sure they feel supported by both leadership and their coworkers, as employees who feel that their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.
Recognition program: Frontline workers are constantly handling challenging customer situations, need to adapt when there’s high traffic, and must stay positive, all while ensuring the store is well-maintained. However, they’re often overlooked, as only one in three workers say they’re recognized for their good work. So, create a program to recognize that hard work. They’ll not only feel appreciated, but know the work they do matters.
Incentives and gamify: In addition to a recognition program, you can foster some fun competition by adding incentives for good work, or gamifying something each employee does each day. For instance, compete on how many customer touchpoints resulted in a sale or how many customers each employee signs up for a membership or loyalty program. Offer rewards to make the incentive more tangible.
The right tools and technology: Frontline employees need the right tools and technologies to be able to do their jobs to the fullest and to serve their customers. Create a great experience by giving them the tools they need or updating the tools they already have. For example, having an inventory system that stays up to date with real-time stock numbers means that sales associates know exactly what’s in the store, and can bring customers to that item.
Customer service training: In addition to training on tools and technology, make sure your customer-facing employees are trained on customer service skills as well. Sometimes it’s assumed that employees know how to interact with customers. But by providing training on how to deliver great customer service — what questions to ask customers, how to handle challenging situations, how to interact with them in a brand-consistent way — you can increase their confidence in their work.
Engaging Experiences for Both Customers and Employees
Building a customer-centric brand should go hand in hand with focusing on ways to achieve the “Best Places to Work” list. By creating great in-store experiences for both customers and employees that focus on delivering great service, using tools and technologies to facilitate frictionless experiences, and fostering an engaging and fun culture, you’ll be building a firm foundation for growth, retention and trust into the future.
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