Yesterday I had two different shopping experiences: one was magical and the other was not.

The Not So Magical experience involved looking for a very basic item: an ice cooler. I went to three big box stores – and between the three, asked at least 8 employees where the ice coolers were stocked. In every case, the employee said “I think, they are over there” and then proceeded to point where “over there” was. Two of them were having a conversation with each other, three were standing in their aisles stocking other items, one was walking around, and the other two were headed in the other direction. All I could think, is that it wouldn’t have taken much for any one of them to have said “follow me, I will take you over to where they are kept.”
Building customer loyalty means building relationships with customers. A four minute walk with a customer to the correct aisle would have been an opportunity to talk to me, find out what kind of cooler did I want, where was I going to use the cooler, given a couple of tips on different size coolers, and then help me put the chosen ice cooler into cart. They all missed that opportunity because they were doing other things they considered more important than me, the customer.

The Magical experience occurred while I was shopping for a watch. I had intended to only look, not buy, but because the sales clerk was so helpful, I ended up buying on the spot. She wasn’t pushy, she simply started the experience by giving me eye contact when I walked up to the counter. She was with another customer, but her smile and nod of head, let me know that she knew I was there. As she came over and saw me looking through the glass panes, she asked who the watch was for. When I explained it was for my husband who is an avid fisherman, she started to narrow down the choices of the wide selection knowing it can be overwhelming to see so many choices. As she asked more questions of his lifestyle and the need for the watch, it became easier and easier to make a choice. I ended up selling myself on the watch!

What made it a Magical experience: the welcoming smile, the active listening that made me feel special, the reassurance of the easy return policy, and the sincere desire to help. This, too, was a big box store, but unlike the first experience, this employee had been trained on her products and knew the importance of her role in building a relationship to ultimately create a loyal customer.

How do your employees respond when asked where something is?  Are they trained to point over there, or to stop and take the customer to the correct place? Are they trained on your products and services so they are competent and knowledgeable to answer customer questions? And, finally, are they taught their higher purpose is to build customer loyalty. Successful organizations know that repeat business is the true measure of success.

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