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.

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”