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New Year, Fresh Start: 7 Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience to Keep Customers Coming Back All Year Long

The holiday season has come and gone. You invested substantial time and resources into creating exceptional retail experiences during the busiest and most profitable shopping season of the year. Now, as consumers steadily head to brick-and-mortar stores in search of great post-holiday deals, and you make way for spring merchandise, value isn’t all shoppers are looking for. They also expect exceptional customer experiences, which makes the post-holiday shopping season no time to slack off.

There are several ways retailers can create consistently high-quality experiences after the holidays and drive a continuous stream of customer loyalty and advocacy through 2014. Read our top 7 below:

1. Multichannel Integration

The showrooming concept is grounded in the fact that online-only retailers are missing a decision-making channel that customers value (the physical in-store experience). By leveraging physical store space to offer enhanced multichannel shopping opportunities, brick-and-mortar retailers can capture business from online competitors. When done well, multichannel integration combines online, social, mobile and in-store resources to deliver an experience that far surpasses the experiences offered by online competitors.

2. Deliver on Your Brand Promise

Successful retail is about more than product quality. When a customer enters a retail establishment, they expect to find a pleasant, enjoyable atmosphere and respectful, attentive staff. When executed correctly, these attributes can make customers feel happier, healthier or more attractive.

Brands typically struggle to quantify and measure these feelings, making it difficult to adjust customer experiences at the local level. The challenge for businesses this year is to implement technologies that will help them better understand the branded behaviors that elicit these feelings and to create customer experiences that are more engaging and satisfying.

Retailers can reinforce the behaviors that strengthen consumer-brand relationships or change behaviors to address customer needs and create a more desirable customer experience.

3. Customer Service

Customer service is an area in which brick-and-mortar retailers can excel, especially since many pure-play online retailers often have no in-person support. The key is to avoid populating stores with inexperienced sales teams who can’t help customers with questions about the products. It’s important to adequately train all sales team members to provide exceptional service and to monitor the quality of customer service by collecting structured and unstructured customer feedback during this busy shopping time of year.

4. Amplify Customer Feedback

Regardless of the time of year, it’s important for retail brands to aggressively monitor customer feedback through structured surveys as well as unsolicited reviews posted via social media channels. Using listening and monitoring technologies, positive customer feedback can be identified and amplified to promote repeat business. Responsive, offline treatment of negative messages or concerns can even encourage dissatisfied customers to give your brand a second chance.

5. Empower Local Managers

The worst thing you can to do to local store managers is funnel massive amounts of unanalyzed data and undifferentiated feedback to them and expect them to convert it into meaningful insights. Rather than overwhelming your managers, respect that they need to spend the vast majority of their time on the floor. Empower them with real-time guest feedback insights, pre-analyzed to clearly show local restaurant issues and opportunities for taking action and seeing improvement.

6. Share Knowledge

Location managers frequently encounter guest experience challenges they haven’t seen before. But the challenges that are new to one location manager are often challenges that have already been encountered by a manager at a different location. Knowledge-sharing technologies offer a convenient way to tap into the brand’s aggregate experience and provide location managers with the resources to overcome nearly any customer experience management obstacle.

7. Break Down Big Data

Big data, or data collected from large and complex data sets, offers several insights into customer experience improvements for retailers. However, local brand managers often have difficulty understanding how to leverage data at the local level. To overcome this barrier between general consumer insights and localized action, retailers should provide research-based advice and coaching to local managers in an effort to help individualize and improve local customer experiences.

Whether shoppers are interacting with your brand for the first time or fiftieth, the ability to deliver first-rate customer experiences is what will bring customers back all year long. Implement these strategies, and you’ll achieve longer-term customer loyalty success and brand advocacy.

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