Christmas Is Coming, But Are Your Sales Getting Flat? How To Keep Fickle Customers From Straying & Save Your Reputation In The Process
'Tis the season to be jolly for retailers who are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of "mo' money, mo' money, mo' money" as my Transatlantic friends would say.
The US-based National Retail Federation predicts that compared to last year, retail sales for this November and December will grow by nearly 4 per cent to just over $600 billion. That's SIX HUNDRED BILLION!
There's a frantic dash for consumers' cash, with our TV screens, newspapers, radio, magazines and the internet plastered with adverts promoting Black Friday and Christmas deals. Some retailers have even decided to get into the game early by opening on - shock horror - Thanksgiving, which has led to a consumer backlash.
Despite the potential bonanza, retailers shouldn't lose sight of the simple, yet sadly overlooked fact that the customer always comes first.
All of us; yes: me, you, him, her and them, demand basic customer 'service' when it comes to shopping.
We want what we've paid for without a sloppy, snotty or stroppy sales assistant giving us the impression that we are just an annoying obstruction preventing them from catching up on last night's activities with a co-worker.
It's too easy easy for some retailers to be lulled into a false sense of security when a potential buyer walks out of their store in frustration, with the prospect of other customers along the way.
Unless you have deep pockets to advertise for new customers to replace the ones you've lost, or a brand people are obsessed with or an experience so enjoyable they are willing to wait hours to participate in it, this is short-sighted and potentially dangerous to your business.
Putting aside utility companies (which are basically monopolies), consumers have a lot of choice and don't have to put up with poor service.
As in the AIDA marketing model, when a customer is within 'buying distance', you need to attract them, spark an interest in what you're selling, build up a desire for your product or service and motivate them into taking action and make a purchase.
A shop assistant who believes that customers are disposable has no business being employed in that role. A retailer who thinks the same should prepare for a poor reputation, smaller profits and a shaky future.
Today's infographic from Zendesk illustrates why customer experience should be taken very seriously.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.