A Great Retail Experience In Your Store Means "Emotion"
Look at your old photo books or think back about the heartfelt memories you can recall, and you will find that they all involve people and the human interactions and connections we have with them, rather than material possessions. Even the movies and commercials that affect us the most seem to get to us emotionally in some way. If we can learn anything from these “warm fuzzy” feelings and situations, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that relationships and human connections are what we truly remember and value in the end. It seems to come down to the word “emotion” and if you’ve ever been through some good sales training classes you’d know that the word “emotion” is what becomes important in triggering a sale. Remember: needs vs. wants? Wants, and the emotions connected with them, are what usually win.
Emotion is the Word
So, if we accept the premise that the word “emotion” is important in motivating buyers, then wouldn’t it be great if we could make better use of customer “emotions” in our store(s)? Think about some of the companies that have built great reputations and relationship with their customers and you realize that the word “emotion” comes into play on all of them. Companies like Apple have been studied in terms of their customers’ brain wave patterns and the results have shown that customer emotions border on a similar effect of that found in religious followers. Other companies like Build-A-Bear build their whole business around feelings and creating the warm fuzzies. They understand that they’re not in the stuffed animal business. They are in fact in the “smiles” or “warm fuzzies” business. Other good retailers build their business around knowing and understanding their customers and then working to surpass their customer’s expectations, which also has an emotional effect. Once they know their customers needs and wants, they work very hard, to maintain customer loyalty by consistently insuring positive experiences, high standards and ongoing emotional connections that help set them apart from their competition.
If you think about it, when we’re excited and happy about an experience we’re always anxious to tell someone else about our experience. What I’m saying here again is that if we could create an emotional experience or surpass customer expectations, the word would also spread about our store, and we’ve all been taught that “word of mouth” is certainly the cheapest form of advertising.
Providing the Experience & Surpassing Expectations
As I’ve often said before those retailers who are doing the best job with their customers, are creating “experiences” and emotional “connections” for those shoppers. They are de-emphasizing the actual “purchase” part of the transaction and focusing more on the customer’s personal needs or wants. They are in effect focusing on the “customer experience”.
If you’re asking about now, what you can do to address this challenge in your store, you may find that this can be a fun experience. Do a little crazy and fun brainstorming, along with a little research. Spend some time with your employees and generate some creativity and imagination. As a secondary goal, you may also want to work on how you can de-emphasize or make the purchase part of the transaction more pleasant and efficient. The bottom line is to make the actual purchase less of an event and everything else more of an “experience”. Your efforts can all be assisted by thinking about one question that may summarize all of the questions below and that is: “What can we do to put a smile on our customers face?”
1. Can you make them laugh or say “Wow” or “Unbelievable” i.e. Jungle Jims International Market in Fairfield, Ohio?
2. How can you know your customers better, in order to cater to them in a more “on target” way i.e. Hot Topic, dELIA. Crate & Barrel
3. What kind of unique experience can you create that your target customers will remember for months or years to come i.e. Trader Joes, Sephora?
4. How can we educate or inform our customers in a more interesting or more complete way than our competitors?
5. Is it possible to enhance interest and emphasize the more stimulating and enjoyable aspect of owning a product from your store i.e. Build-A-Bear and Apple?
6. How can you help your customer forget about what is going on in the real world outside of your store i.e. Disney, Bass Pro,
7. What would competitors never do because it is too outrageous or too expensive i.e. Apple’s Genius Bar?
8. What might make your customers feel better about themselves, appeal to their self esteem, or make them feel more important i.e. Sephora? (Walking a customer to their car with an umbrella during a rainstorm)
9. What will make the experience in your store totally feel over-the-top in terms of the customer’s expectations?
10.What can you do to help reinforce any special store experiences in the customers mind?
Any store can create memorable or amazing moments by working at a basic level to put a smile on the face of their customer or creating some kind of memorable moment or human interaction. It doesn’t need to be on the level of a “Disney” experience. Employees that care and have great personalities can interact with customers in ways that create “connections” between your business and the customer. Even little things can make a lasting impression. Your goal should be to tie the customer’s memory to their store visits with anything from small regular doses of positive experiences to more significant “wow” moments, whenever possible! Over months and years, your people and your store will develop genuine connections and emotional loyalty which can become more powerful than anything you could ever do from a marketing standpoint.
When the experience is good or great, factors like cost can often become secondary. Consider every "touch point" or interaction in your relationship with your customers, from how you greet your customers, to using their name in a conversation, to calling them after a purchase to insure they are happy with their purchase. It can be a lot of small things that can make a customer feel good about your business.