We found this article published by the Wharton School of Business that speaks to what makes a great shopping experience. The author of this article shares five pillars of retail satisfaction that should be used to build a platform that can help to create an amazing shopping experience. Those five are:
- Engagement: being polite, genuinely caring and interested in helping, acknowledging and listening.
- Executional excellence: patiently explaining and advising, checking stock, helping to find products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality.
- Brand Experience: exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they’re special and that they always get a deal.
- Expediting: being sensitive to customers’ time on long check-out lines, being proactive in helping speed the shopping process.
- Problem Recovery: helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete satisfaction.
The author suggests these should be the minimum standards any retailer should implement so they can increase their probability of creating “wow” experiences for their customers. Given these five pillars, we sought stories of some very successful retailers who exemplify some great experiences through these pillars.
One customer’s experience at The Capital Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas
One story we found is from Linda Ireland, who posted this article at customerthink.com. Here is part of her story:
When I arrived [at the hotel] I walked through the front doors and noticed a gentleman standing near a small podium which I took to be the bellhops stand. The man saw me enter and said, “Are you Ms. Ireland?”
Slightly confused and amazed, “Yes…”
“We’ve got you all checked in. If you’re ready I can escort you to your room.” And then he offered me a bottle of water.
I was completely taken aback.
As we walk, the desk staff says hello. My escort shares the hotel’s history with me along the way. The room is wonderful.
The next morning, I found myself smiling as I stepped out of my room into the hallway…
As I walked by the reception area to leave, I hear, “Good morning Ms. Ireland, would you like any help getting a car to take you to your meeting this morning?”
I’m floored. This was a different person, yet they still knew who I was. Not only was their staff incredibly prepared, courteous and helpful, but also their attention to detail was top notch.
This experience shows that personalization in engagement and experience are not only remembered fondly, but they are shared and talked about by those who experience them.
Zappos Customer Service
Zappos is well known for differentiating themselves through customer service. If you Google, “Zappos customer service stories,” you’ll find numerous stories people gladly shared about their customer service experience.
One story that stood out to us was of a groomsman who “ordered shoes from the online retailer with enough time to receive them before he needed to travel for the wedding. He called Zappos when his shoes didn’t arrive due to the shipping being routed to the wrong location.”1 Zappos went out of their way to solve the problem: they set up a replacement pair to be sent to the wedding destination and rerouted the old pair to return to Zappos. On top of that, they upgraded the man to a VIP account so all future purchases would have free shipping. And then the customer service rep told him since he was VIP, he gets a full refund on his shoes.
One retail experience that exemplifies not only executional excellence, but also the future of retail is that of Audi City (see image below). “Audi City is an immersive digital showroom that allows customers to explore the different Audi models via interactive touchscreen displays and videos.”2 Audi City does two things well. First, it uses retail space effectively. In an industry where it’s so difficult to show off all your models due to limited space, Audi City can display its entire lineup of cars in a small, beautiful retail space. Second, the retail space also “provides customers with an engaging and experiential shopping experience so they leave loving (if they didn’t already) the Audi brand.”2
1 Jones, Stephanie. “4 Ways to Show Your Customers the Love.” PATLive. PATLive, 19 June 2015. Web. 27 Dec. 2015. <http://www.patlive.com/blog/customer-appreciation-4-ways-to-show-them-the-love/>.
2 Vong, Katherine. “Interactive Digital Showrooms : Audi City.” TrendHunter.com. TrendHunter, 24 July 2012. Web. 27 Dec. 2015. <http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/audi-city>.