7 Ways to Improve Retail Customer Experience

Last week, we talked about the fashion retail experience and how to give customers what they were looking for.  Fashion is only a segment of the retail industry, however, and today I’d like to brush up on ways to improve retail customer experience across the board. To that end, our research fairies have compiled a list to help us get to excellent customer experiences:

7 Ways to Improve Retail Customer Experience

1. Create Family-Friendly Environments

Most people end up at retail stores with their families – either with the entire family, or a pack of children. I know that one of my favourite things as a kid was to go to the hardware store with my dad, or to the grocery store with my mother – and the other way round. In some cases, it’s a matter of practicality, and in other cases an opportunity for a family outing. Whatever the reason, chances are, any retail environment is going to be faced with family groups with children across a range of ages. As a result, it’s just a good idea to have families in mind, but a necessity! Besides, if it’s family-friendly, it’s probably everyone-friendly right? Family-friendly entails safety as well, which benefits all.

Setting up areas where parents can safely park their children for the half hour they need to rush around the aisles and get their weekly groceries, is a good way to help out. Supplying things like building blocks and colouring paper is a surefire way to settle noisy children down; bonus points can be earned with shopping-weary customers by setting up a nearby place for adults to relax too – maybe with coffee!

2. Aim for Solid Customer Relationships

We touched on this our previous article, where we outlined that the best way to boost a relationship with customers is to employ four simple steps:

  1. Be active listeners.
  2. Be honest with your customers in a tactful way.
  3. Take into account the customer’s best interest, not the best interest of the store.
  4. Connect with customers on a personal, human level.

Training staff members to reach customers with these four easy steps will guarantee a solid foundation upon which to build good and ongoing customer relationships.

3. Have a Good Customer-Staff Ratio

I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into a grocery store and needed to ask a question, only to find that there was no staff in sight. Anywhere. I’m usually a very patient person, and I like to think of myself as capable of solving my own problems, but sometimes I just want to ask someone for an answer – where can I find the bread flour? Where’s the organic produce aisle?  – rather than running around the store on my little legs. Let’s face it, the world is a consumer’s paradise, and we’re all hunting for convenience.

Make sure that there are enough staff around to be able to help when they’re needed. Obviously, there are costs involved here, and overstaffing is detrimental to the bottom line, but it’s important to supply the customers enough staff members to help them out with their needs.

4. Improve the Check-Out Procedure

No one likes waiting in line, and no one wants to be stuck behind someone at the cashier who doesn’t have the right change or left their wallet at home. Giving people options is the best way to allow for a smooth check out procedure. Make sure that there are enough cashiers open to service the number of customers in the store – this fluctuates throughout the day, so a good store manager will make sure to keep an eye out for trending peak times and get ahead of the rush before it happens. Another way to improve this is to invest in either mobile registers on the floor or automated registered at the exits, these can make a big difference to how customers can make their purchases.

5. Keep Automated Services & Systems Working

if you have automated systems – such as the above-mentioned mobile or automated registered, or eCommerce platforms with chatbots and AI systems – make sure that they’re working smoothly every day. If you don’t know that something isn’t working before your customers realize it, you can be sure to receive a storm of complaints and a huff of angry and frustrated customers. Not a great way to improve retail customer experience. Keep your systems up to date, check and maintain them regularly.

If they break down, make sure you replace them quickly or have an alternative in place!

6. Use Customer Feedback

A lot of retailers like to ask customers for their feedback. It’s a great idea, we know that measuring customer satisfaction can be a powerful way to help improve retail experience across the world. The trouble is that a lot of retails set out with good intentions but then fail to do anything with the mountains of data that they receive. Before you set out to ask for customer feedback, be sure you know what you’re going to do with it, and then… wait for it: do that thing. Don’t just ask for feedback and let it fall by the wayside when you’ve received it – if a customer has taken the time to provide feedback, it’s important to make sure that they see their feedback being put to use.

7. Stay true to your Promises

In one of his recent blog posts – ‘Make a Promise, Keep it. Offer a Guarantee, Honor it’ – Shep Hyken talks about the importance of keeping the promises you make to your customers. You can’t say one thing and then back out of it when you realize the customer actually expects you to carry it out. Words are powerful, don’t abuse them. If you go back on your word, you’ve broken the trust you worked so hard to establish with customers, and, as we well know by now: once gone, trust is almost impossible to win back.

Olwen - in purple Olwen has been in marketing for more than 8 years, she‘s been with AQ since 2016. Her passion is for helping people and businesses improve their customer service experience by providing interesting content. Follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.

Read more of Olwen’s articles here.