For an exceptional encounter, pay attention to each step in the buying cycle
By My Retail Coach, Danielle Lavallee Wasson and Nathalie Blanchard
We recently attended the AquaPoints trip with more than 300 Canadian pool and spa dealers. During our keynote address, we asked: “What do you think is more important to your business growth: your online presence or your store, staff and products?” Only four people picked the online presence. Both are equally important when considering the buying cycle that marks the customer shopping experience.
The buying cycle starts with wanting a spa. When the research starts, will potential customers find you? Do you have an online presence? What image are you portraying online? What are your potential customers seeing when they find you? This first impression will determine whether they come into the store. To earn traffic, you must first get online traffic.
Your store look and feel should match your online presence. The second “first” impression is also very important. Customers will be expecting a look and feel based on what they found online. If these are opposites, customers will be confused. If your store is not as nice as your online image, they will be disappointed. If your store is better than your website, they will be pleased. Take a look at your store and check:
Colors schemes and lighting
Product lineup and displays
Flow, meaning is it easy and pleasant to browse
Cleanliness of the store and restrooms
Staff friendliness, knowledge and professionalism. (Happy, satisfied employees are more inclined to be kind and friendly with customers.)
What can you do immediately to improve the first impression? Remember to maintain congruence between your online message and your store.
The interaction between your sales team and customers dramatically influences the shopping experience. The best salespeople help grow sales, but more than that, they improve a company’s reputation by getting great reviews and referrals. The worst salespeople cannot only cost you a ton of money to fix unreasonable promises, they can also destroy a company’s reputation.
If your sales team does its job well, you get to deliver/install the spa. It is impossible to expect perfection, but what really matters is how you handle it. Here are some key elements to turn a roadblock into a great customer service experience:
Don’t dodge the customer. Admit something went wrong and find a solution as quickly as possible.
Set realistic expectations to avoid confusion and further disappointment.
Underpromise and overdeliver.
Follow up to make certain they are satisfied.
We often overlook the after-sale service, yet it completes the cycle and enhances the shopping experience. To use your follow-up system to get more sales, reviews and referrals:
Send a thank-you note by email, mail or text after the purchase.
Send a request for referrals.
If they say they are satisfied, send a request for online reviews. (Make it easy by providing the link directly to the review area of Google or Facebook.)
Ask them to post a “bragging” picture of them and their spa on Facebook (their page or yours), and tag your store (alert them to the tag: example: @abcstore).
If it’s a spectacular install, ask if you can have a professional photographer take pictures for your social media and website.
Send email reminders for filter changes, maintenance tips and more.
You don’t have to be a high-end store to create the ultimate shopping experience. There are plenty of mid- to low-end businesses that provide the best customer service in town and enjoy greater success than high-end stores.
Customer-experience consulting firm Walker predicts that by 2020, customer experience will trump price and product. This has already started: Its survey shows that 56 percent of customers who have a poor experience never come back; 25 percent tell their friends and family not to go there; and 14 percent share the bad news online.
Our customers have become demanding, sometimes unreasonable and difficult to please. This is why business growth is so dependent on the customer’s shopping experience.
Coming next issue: The three steps to being found online.
After a 26-year career in the pool and spa industry, Danielle Lavallee Wasson pursued her passion to help retailers grow their business, founding My Retail Coach. Wasson’s approach is straightforward and provides real-life solutions that dealers can use to effect positive changes with their teams. Nathalie joined My Retail Coach in 2017. She brings more than 20 years of experience in online marketing of small- and medium-size businesses. She helps dealers improve their online presence by providing highly effective activities.
Their mission is simple: Help dealers get more customers, keep them longer and make more money. My Retail Coach services include online training videos and webinars supported by one-on-one coaching and consulting. You can find courses at mycoach.thinkific.com.