Look first at home.
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.
So, who is your true customer?