By Nathalie Schooling, CEO of nlighten
Great customer experience is invariably about substance over style, and unfortunately, this is where a lot of brands go wrong.
We’ve all experienced this frustration; when out shopping or even just browsing, something on display catches our eye, but the store does not have it in stock.
For example, you’re shopping for a specific item and the well-turned-out shop assistant offers their expertise advice, but when it comes to bagging up the sale, you’re politely informed that the product you desire is currently out of stock. At this point, a customer is not very interested in going back to the drawing board to select the next best thing, as it isn’t as satisfying to buy.
The reason some store managers put their entire range on display, even if not all products are in stock, is because in many cases they are instructed to do so. They don’t want to risk a sales point station looking untidy or slightly empty, so instead they fill the station with stock that a customer can’t even buy.
For so many businesses, it’s too much about form and not enough about content. In these instances, it’s more important to the business that their sales environment looks inviting, than how functional and easy it is for clients to make a purchase.
If symmetry really is the most important aspect of a shops display, there are alternative ways to ensure the customer has the correct information at all times. For example, using out-of-stock signs or black stickers to cover the products that are not currently available. This way, shop assistants can recognise immediately that there is no point in wasting a customer’s time with certain options.
This is a prime example of a small detail that matters to the customer being totally overlooked because the company is looking at customer experience from the wrong angle. They are thinking ‘how do we look’ not ‘how does it feel to buy from us.’ A transaction should be designed with ease and fluidity in mind, and aesthetics as a secondary aspect.
All customers need to feel valued, and when a company can’t deliver, it’s like breaking a promise. It becomes personal to the customer. Placing too much focus on the ‘glitz and glam’ of the shopfront, without being able to deliver on the most basic things is a mistake. Companies must make realistic promises and follow through on them, even with something as simple as product displays. That is a fundamental aspect of a business as a whole; it is the essence of customer experience.
Those in top management need to engage frequently with the frontline staff who are interacting with customers daily, to find out what needs to improve. To really excel at CX, one needs to actually go looking for trouble and find out what customers are complaining about. This way, a business can get a real understanding of what it feels like to buy from them, instead of relying on how stylish they come across to the customer.