22nd May 2015

Perfecting the customer experience

Kirsty Blog 2

Earlier this week, I went along to the North West Insider Retail Breakfast with sponsor, and B2B client, Plastic Card Services.

After a quick bit of networking over egg and bacon sandwiches, we took our seats to hear from some of the North West’s bold and the brave, including: James Timpson (CEO, Timpsons); Robert Brigham (MD, Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports); Dan Rubel (group strategy and communications director, Shop Direct); Rob Smith (MD, Blueleaf); and Darrin Robinson (CEO, Beacon Fell).

In just over an hour, what came across most strongly from every panel member was the importance of the customer experience, so here are the panel’s top five tips:

Kirsty blog 1

#Tip 1: Put people at the heart of your business

For James Timpson, in order to give customers the very best experience, it’s vital to ensure that the people who work for you are at the top of their game. For Timpson, this means recruiting people with the right personality – you can teach anyone the skills needed to run a store successfully but by getting your people right, you can guide the customer in how they feel when they interact with your brand. This will in turn be directly reflected in their loyalty to you.

#Tip 2: Know your customers (as individuals)

Robert Brigham added that the better you know your customers, the better you can give them what they want. By mining for information – much like we do at Tangerine, whether we’re preparing for a pitch, running a mapping session with a new client, or putting together campaign plans for a long-standing client – you can quickly find out what they think they want. And as we often find, what they think they want isn’t necessarily what they need – something which we’re certainly not afraid to say or address with a proposal that steps away from the original brief. At Ellis Brigham, the brand will soon be launching a new app that will gather information enabling it to better know its customers whether they’re shopping in-store, online or on mobile.

#Tip 3: Differentiate your brand from its competitors

Sometimes you’ll be able to compete on price and sometimes you won’t. Instead of looking to compete with competitors that are smashing one element of their business that it’s simply not feasible for you to improve upon, work out how to differentiate yourself. For Darrin Robinson, when setting up his new custom bike shop, this meant stepping out of the usual specialist bike store model which can be male orientated, hands off and even intimidating. The Fell instead has been designed to be welcoming, female friendly, and moreover, give customers the chance to get tactile with the components that they can select for their custom-built bike.

#Tip 4: Make sure you meet expectations

When Dan Rubel of Shop Direct took up the mantel, he talked about ensuring that your product range and the customer’s experience of your brand meets their expectations – great reactions are based on fantastic experiences, which can positively, impact the bottom line. Further personalising the customer journey helps to pull your potential customers out of the quagmire of endless choice they’re now faced with, thanks to the internet.

#Tip 5: It goes both ways

Finally, almost every brand these days has an online and a real world presence, and as Rob Smith pointed out, it’s vital that there’s synchronicity between the two. The number of touch points a customer may hit before purchase are ever increasing and it’s vital that they all tell the same story in order to give potential customers the feeling of security that comes with continuity. For example, if you have fantastic offices but a 1990s website you’ll leave people questioning whether what you say you can offer is actually the real deal, and may quickly lose their interest as they click on the next link in Google.

by Kirsty Ullah, junior account manager, B2B