Customer engagement in retail business | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Customer engagement in retail business

23 August, 2020

Customer engagement is an essential element in sales that emotionally connects customers and the buying process, common to any type of selling situation. It is about encouraging customers to work together and share the experiences created as a business.

If executed well, the strategy will bring growth and success to a business. If the staff, from top to bottom, understand this well, a retail store can prosper as this strategy is probably one of the best tools for customer satisfaction.   

Customer engagement is a process that focuses on value creation rather than actual revenue generation. Organisations that practise customer engagement always try to offer something more meaningful beyond the sales pitch. They offer maximum customer experience, valuable content, and interactive on the spot customer support. If, as an owner, you concentrate on customer engagement more, your staff members will transform from a mere order getter to a friend, associate, or advisor to your customer.  The customer is ready to pay more if the experience in the store is friendlier than that of your competitors.

If the salespeople on the floor effectively interact, customers will involuntarily be encouraged enough to buy the products available in the store. If the sales team members cannot get the customer emotionally involved, the product knowledge or usual selling skills will not be sufficient to persuade the prospect to make a tangible purchase. Chances that the prospect will walk out without buying can be high in such a situation.     

There are a few elements of effective engagement. Physical touching, trying on, or holding an item to demonstrate can be considered as a tentative purchase.  Encouraging the customer to ask more questions and answering them in a cordial and friendly manner will make the interrelation easier than usual. The questions centered on the customer’s own experience in use of the product concerned and how it would help them personally will provide amazing results. Also, more questions from the customer will create better value in terms of relationships.

With the availability of the internet, customers are more informed and knowledgeable. Hence, unlike before, the customer who walks into the store should be managed more cautiously. As a result of social media and other communication channels, the art of being friendly must be practiced genuinely and with care today. When this writer was a retail store salesman in the early 80s, the situation was much easier and uncomplicated with less competition, less training, absence of television and social media, and those facts made the job much more convenient. 

Connect emotionally

If the sales staff on the floor is not fully engaged in taking time to connect emotionally with the customer, they will possibly drive them away never to return. Repeating customer visits is an important factor in retail sales. This is why many large brands make an extra effort to practise customer engagement and improve brand loyalty. However, smaller retail store owners do not consider this as an important tool, mainly due to unawareness of its potential. Most of them are happy with the mediocre friendly attitude of the staff toward customers.   

By providing an awesome experience in the store through the sales staff, you probably may prevent them from walking into your competitors. It will also ensure their repeat visits, most probably even when you are not competitive. When your customer knows someone from your store on a personal level, their relationship with your store will move from merely a transaction to a more meaningful bond. How important is customer engagement in a retail store? Customers visit retail stores for the human experience. Customers who develop a human feeling about the store will buy more. The chance of repetition will also be more. Therefore, the retailer needs to train staff to provide such an experience. A retail store staff member must always try to offer customers something they cannot get from other places.    

Creating a general customer profile and conveying it to the staff is a good first step when you decide to focus on the customer engagement process. Understanding the common characteristics and the behaviour of patronising customers is helpful. An analysis of lost sales that is done periodically, though complicated, can produce positive results. It is also helpful to prepare a list of the common questions they ask before purchasing or rejecting is useful to prepare your staff for more effective interaction. 

Repeat customer

Making an extra effort to know your customers before reaching out to them is essential. Hence, you have to treat the customer feedback as a gift. To encourage the retail customers to offer their opinion to determine the reason to drive value to them, a simple survey with short questions, probably coupled with a promotion, could be conducted.  This information will be immensely valuable when you train frontline staff.  

Research, experience, and expert opinion reveal that the vast majority of repeat customer visits to retail stores take place mainly because of the friendly and helpful floor staff.  It is a known fact that almost every buyer likes to be treated well. This is a key factor that differentiates the success and failure of a retail business. Retail businesses mainly fail due to an unfriendly approach by untrained and unskilled staff. Therefore, paying attention to staff behaviour is a salient factor in retail trade.    

Improving customer engagement rate is a customer-centric model in this digital era as customers are well informed and understand competition more than in the pre-internet period. Most customers know what they need before they set foot in a showroom. The sales team must be trained to emotionally connect with the customer without focusing on selling mechanically.

Your customer-facing team should be equipped with emotional intelligence and positive attitude training to deliver the best possible customer experience. Managing the interpersonal relationship with the customer empathically must be the goal of the training.

Entrepreneurs who run retail businesses must adopt customer retention strategies such as customer engagement. The most vital factor is to understand that selling in any situation is centered on people. Therefore, the owners must notice them genuinely and share experiences with them to build positive customer satisfaction. Customer loyalty is one of the most important factors in business that pays off big.