As a former store employee and manager I can tell from experience. Your staff can have tremendous impact on your brand experience and sales results.
But working in stores isn't as easy as it used to be. Today customers enter your store, informed better than ever, and the age of the smartphone has left them with an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish.
So chances are they'll end up talking to a sales person, who isn't as informed on the product as they are and who needs more time to come up with answers to their questions than their patience allows.
GREAT PEOPLE POWER GREAT BRANDS
Customers need to be wowed in new ways by store employees, technology can help but isn't the sole solution to the underlying problem. As shopping becomes more about the experience and less about the products we need to understand the human to human interaction is an essential part of the overall shopping experience.
It can make or break it!
So when building a customer centric strategy you have to involve the frontline workers , get their feedback, and inspire them to go the extra mile for the customer. Allowing a certain degree of autonomy can take away unnecessary frictions in customer interactions and fuel magical unprecedented customer experience moments.
Philip Mountford, CEO of Hunkemöller puts it, "great people power great brands”: The retailer who wins the heart of it's employees will win the hearts of its customers.
MICHAEL KORS AMBASSADOR
Back to London then, where we had the pleasure of talking to a Michael Kors employee who talked with great passion about how he was trained to make the customer feel as if he was dressed by Michael Kors himself and told us of a remarkable story of trust and customer centricity.
One day a true Michael Kors fan came to the store, she was buying pretty much half of the collection every year. She came to the store in search for something that she saw on a fashion blog. It wasn't available in store, in fact it was an exclusive collection piece, not available on the UK market.
The sales person reached out to a flagship in another European country and arranged a shipment, without consulting the regional manager for the expenses. When the regional manager found out, he wasn't in trouble, on the contrary. The regional manager suggested to cancel the shipment and instead book tickets for the sales person and the customer to fly to the store.
It made the Michael Kors fan feel important, it made the sales person feel important, and so they've created ambassadors for life.
I know, the story is a bit extreme, but there were smaller acts of genuine customer centricity.
He told us of a story of a customer that came in during her lunch break. She had to leave to a birthday party and wanted to buy one of the Michael Kors watches as a present. It wasn't available in the Regent street store. Needless to say she was disappointed. They offered that an employee would pick it up at another store and bring it to her office, at no extra charge
The watch wasn't expensive, sure they've lost money on that sale. But the customer's reaction was priceless, customers buy experiences and love to share experiences with their network, remember? I bet this one has been shared, at the office, at the party, on social,...no money in the world can get you that kind of positive attention.
My plea is clear: turn your employees into enthusiastic ambassadors who will go a step further to amaze the customer. Through this personal approach you create an experience that no sales model can compete with.