Achieving the Ultimate Customer Experience

Debbie Brown speaks to the audience
Debbie Brown speaks to the audience

Author: Lindsey Locke

Mindy Gulledge, Vice President of Retail Sales, Headway Workforce Solutions, Debbie Brown, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Headway Workforce Solutions, Art Suriano, Chief Executive Officer, The TSi Company, Bob Swan, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Susser Holdings (Strips LLC) all spoke on Achieving The Ultimate Customer Experience.

Mindy Gulledge gave us a little food for thought when she presented an article by the Retail Dr. listing the top things that “drive customers nuts” while shopping. The top three include: talking to an associate who has no product knowledge, an associate not asking others for help while the store is busy, and the number one thing that drives customers nuts while shopping is when an associate doesn’t smile. Everyone in the audience nodded their head in agreement as if they could all relate.

Art Suriano informed us that many components go into determining whether a customer has indeed felt “the ultimate customer experience.” Did they leave happy? Will they advocate to others about their experience? All of these questions can help in determining whether your customer was satisfied. He also made the point that everybody claims to be the best in the business, but what sets your business apart? The bigger the business often means a bigger disconnect between you and the customer. He stated “people think that training alone will teach customer experience, it won’t, you need a good culture.” You need to make employees feel good and involved. For example instead of using a Dos and Don’ts list, explain why something is done or isn’t done.

Debbie Brown steps in to explain that to ensure your business has good customer service; you must start with your interview and hiring process. She stated, “…although there is no perfect formula for the perfect hire, there are things you can do.” Knowing how to decode an applicant’s answers lets you know where you should pursue further explanation. She also stated that you can hire the best applicant, but you have to give them a good experience for them to stay.

Bob Swan explained further on how to ensure keeping the best associates. He stressed managing for people and not managing for results. When you manage for people it will translate into results and satisfied customers. You need to start by giving your new hire a good feeling from day one. You should wait to do paper work at the end of the day and make it all about the company at the beginning.

While each speaker made different points on how to create the ultimate customer experience, the overwhelming idea that kept being presented is that you must invest in your employees as the results will pay off.

Part 3 of our webinar Maximize Your Operational Performance

Listen to Bob Swan, a retail executive with over 20 years of experience, talk about why good is not good enough when hiring talent for your company. He will explain his philosophy that great people create a great experience for the customer, which is what makes them a loyal customer. Furthermore, he delivers advice for the prospective employee on what companies look for today.

New Book Now Out to Help Retail Workers

Art Suriano's The Ultimate Customer Experience

Art Suriano, CEO of the TSi Company, has just completed publication of his book. We are pleased that Headway’s partner has been able to take his many years of experience working with retailers into a guide for good customer service.

Below is an excerpt from the book, The Ultimate Customer Experience.

It is Saturday morning. John has been thinking about a particular item all week and is looking forward to finally purchasing it. He gets up, showers, gets dressed, has a light breakfast, and heads to the mall. It must be his day, thinking to himself as he quickly finds a place to park. John walks into the store and heads over to where the item should be. Unfortunately, he cannot find it.

Hmm…looking around for help, he thinks to himself, “Surely there must be someone working here who can help me.”

But as John continues to look around, searching for any associate…he doesn’t see a soul. His first impulse is to shout out…

“Is anybody here?”

If you are interested in purchasing Art’s book, visit Authorhouse | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Part 1 of our webinar Maximize your Operational Performance

In Part one, the CEO of Headway Workforce Solutions discusses the impact of a good hire versus a bad hire. It is more than just losing someone or the time a company spends, but the cost of that hire to your bottom line and the importance in shifting our current thought processes to see employees as assets. Click here to see how a prospective employee can prove they are worth the training and how companies can view their hires for long-term success.

The Future of Retail: 2014

onlinesalesThere has been a dramatic shift to e-commerce that is capturing a larger share of sales than ever before. The shift away from physical retail toward digital retail is happening faster than experts expected. Hundreds of retail stores are closing in the next few years. For example, 189 Gap stores closed in 2012 & 2013. Also, 180 Abercrombie Stores are to close by 2015.

Some more stats to take note of:

  • 1 in 20 retail dollars are online
  • Amazon is now ~14% of ALL E-Commerce in North America
  • The increase in E-Commerce is making it harder for delivery services to ship products on time
  • Consumer electronics, books, and Clothing are the top three categories with the highest E‑Commerce growth
  • Walmart hasn’t been as affected as most retailers.
  • In 2014, it is expected that 52% of all retail sales will be web-influenced
  • Mobile is now ¼ of all E-Commerce traffic
  • Personalized customer experience is the biggest factor that retailers think they’re missing (60%)
  • Paypal has grown exponentially

Help Maximize your Company’s Operational Performance

Are you a area manager for a retail chain? Have you or a fellow co-worker asked: How do we improve or why are we not reaching our potential? The gaps usually occur because of who you hire and how you prepare them to face your Customers.

During the moderated panel discussion, the following topics will be covered:

  • Saving money through better hiring
  • The secret to a good hire – it is not as easy as you think
  • Closing the gap between hiring manager expectations and new hire performance
  • Improving your hiring cycle and training processes
  • Training your good hires for long-term success

When: April 16th, 3 – 4 pm ET

In order to register, please click on the link below.


Congratulations…From Poor Service to No Service

The Need
The other day while I was at home, I realized that I needed to replace the filter for my central air system. To save time, I decided to stop by a big box home center that was in my area. I went inside and I realized that although it was a familiar chain, the store seemed to be arranged differently than the others. Perhaps this store had been taken over from a former chain; I wasn’t sure, but the layout was not at all what I was used to.

Lack of Consistency
This presented a problem because I didn’t know where the central air filters were located. As I walked through the store, I didn’t see many associates and when I did, the associate was heading in the opposite direction. I continued to walk through the store searching for central air filters, until I finally came across the aisle. I’ve bought many filters in the past, so I knew exactly what type I was looking for.

No One Paid Attention To The Customer
I picked up the central air filter and proceeded to the checkout area.
Once again, I was walking toward the front of the store, and I was amazed that during all of this time, I still hadn’t encountered one store associate to assist me or even to greet me with a friendly “hello” or smile. On the flip side, the store was busy, so I guess in this retailer’s mind that’s all that mattered. Continue reading “Congratulations…From Poor Service to No Service”