In today’s social media driven world, understanding who your customer is has become a very confusing process. It is important to remember that customers who come through the doors to purchase merchandise are still the largest sales base. The difference is that today these customers have longer arms – that is to say that their reach extends far beyond their immediate geographic location.
In 2015, I took over a 45 million dollar-a- year store in a predominantly rural area. The store had a customer service score of 96.8. This was a little unusual because rural stores traditionally don’t rank below 98. Determined to bring that score up, I went into customer service mode: greeting each customer, handing out my card, and speaking with every customer that asked for me at the customer service desk. The score increased, but only to 98.
One day I noticed that every cashier seemed to know at least one shopper personally. Every manager knew someone also. In addition, many employees were related to someone shopping in the store and many employees and their families were customers when they were not working. Seeking to capitalize on these relationships, I called a meeting and asked employees to share their personal opinions about shopping at the store, including their likes and dislikes. We put together a list of problems and attacked the top five items. In three weeks, we cracked the 100 mark.
By being responsive to the customers that were already part of our store family, we were also being responsive to the needs of the larger community. A positive shopping experience among the employee group led to them speaking positively to family and friends. In addition, employees were generally happier about their work environment and shared that as well.
Though this initiative was intended to increase walk-in customers, the effect of the longer arms of social media resulted in a much larger audience – their friends on social media. When happy shoppers posted positive comments about the store and happy employees shared comments about their work environment on social media they told a much larger audience about the customer service experience. Positive comments shared by happy employees, friends, and family is an extremely effective use of social media. Happy employee, family and friend shoppers spell happy customers. Happy customers spell increased customer satisfaction scores.