2  May 2017

The latest Commonwealth Bank survey reveals 78% of Australian customers feel valued when a store remembers their name, previous purchase or order and that 68% of those customers are more likely to return to that business.  Furthermore, 81% of customers are more likely to spend more in a store where they feel valued.  It’s feedback like this that tells us that consumers of all demographics are craving real relationships with humans, are willing to pay for it and will go elsewhere if they don’t get it.

Market leaders such as Lush, Apple and Nespresso are moving away from transaction focused behaviours and focusing on building personal rapport with their customers through a clienteling practice.  Sadly, not all businesses on this journey will be successful, even with the implementation of CRM technology.

Customer service training programs, though well intentioned, are not keeping pace with today’s more switched on savvy customer. Not only are current surveys telling us that the customer is craving a connection and an experience, their spending pattern also tells us that’s what they want.  The latest Deloitte Access economics review shows a shift away from what is now largely seen by customers as consumer goods to experiences and recreation.  Never before have traditional retailers had to fight so hard for a share of the wallet.  Yet there are those who have taken up the fight.

On the recommendation of a friend, I recently visited the world’s best supermarket in South Australia. She knows I am a passionate advocate of clienteling and the benefits it brings to business.  She told me of the checkout operator who excused herself so she could enquire as to the welfare of a regular elderly customer she saw. Naturally I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  I had also heard they have to employ someone to direct traffic in their carpark.  Chapleys Foodland in South Australia.  I visited on a Tuesday lunchtime.  When I arrived, their already substantial carpark was near capacity. What a surprise when I entered the store. I was greeted by the sounds of live music being played in the fruit and veg section.

As I continued my tour through the store, I began to understand why they have taken out the title in 2016 and also 2017. There was a continental bakery in the rear of the store with some of the best bespoke breads and pastries.  Continuing through the back of the store, I found a selection of some of the world’s best cheeses, a fish monger and a boutique butcher, all while experiencing the usual fare offered in a supermarket.  That being said, the choice on offer was phenomenal.  Rather than spreading their offer wide they had gone high and as a result had a lot more lines on offer.

A chap in his 70’s was walking past and the 3 lads behind the counter greeted him by name and asked how his fishing was going, as they were engaging in friendly banter with a regular and inviting me on their journey I could see why the likes of Costco and Aldi won’t be a problem to Chapleys in South Australia.

We live in an ever increasingly transactional and impersonal world where customers are telling us they are desperate for clienteling to be done right in the real world. If you want to be their first-choice business, the one they write 5 star online reviews about, the one they tell great stories about to all their friends, then now is the time to embrace clientling.  As we see in action in the world’s best supermarket.

Clienteling in all service businesses gives double digit growth when fully embraced.  Over 20 years of results has proven this in many environments.  For a no obligation conversation on the art of clienteling and how it can help your business call or email us.

“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action and reason leads to conclusion” Donald Caine Neurologist

Are bricks and mortar dying?

2  April 2017

The $300 billion powerhouse of the Australian economy that employs over 1.2 million people is looking a bit sick. We’ve seen a series of high profile collapses, the likes of Howards Storage, Payless Shoes and David Lawrence to name a few.  Sales year on year to March 2017 have only seen an increase of 2.1% – its slowest since 2013.

Is it really that sick? Does it matter that in 12 months to April 2017 Australians spent $22.37 billion in online sales, roughly 7.3% of total sales in traditional bricks and mortar stores.  Does it matter that traditional e-tailers such as Amazon and Weebly Parker now include bricks and mortar in their mix as a tool to grow sales.

Countless small business owners and CEOs will tell you that if it wasn’t for their online store they would be in big trouble. Yet over 92% of us are still hitting the bricks and mortar stores trying to spend money.

My most recent attempt at making a purchase was a Saturday morning 5 weeks ago just before the mid-year sales.  It was 11 am when I arrived at the first store, an Australian fashion label in a major capital city.  I entered the store, laid out as many are with huge glass windows and a massive doorway, no staff member to be seen and the phone is ringing.  I start browsing and the phone keeps ringing. Eventually it stops and still no staff member appears. I keep browsing.  I am 3 minutes in now – still no staff member and the phone starts ringing again. Surely someone will answer it this time! No such luck.

I am beginning to think that the store has been evacuated and that they didn’t have time to close the doors in the rush!  By this time, I have found a jumper I like so I go in search of the fitting rooms.  Bingo! I found the 2 missing staff members.  Turns out they each have a customer in there and are therefore busy.

I help myself to a fitting room and try on my jumper. No acknowledgement of any sort because clearly, they are busy.  I decide I like the jumper so I head to the unattended counter and begin the wait.  Finally, one of the staff emerges with her customer who has decided not to buy any of the garments she has tried on and by that time I had made the same decision as I was tired of waiting and not being acknowledged.

After that visit, I headed to another Australian fashion retailer, located diagonally opposite, to try my luck.  By this time its 11.35. There are 3 staff members and 1 customer at the counter, and 3 of us on the shopfloor browsing. No acknowledgement at this time because they must all be busy, that’s ok.  I find another jumper nearly identical to what I have just tried on so I take it to the fitting room.  There is a staff member in there helping another customer.  At this time, it’s beginning to feel like Groundhog Day because clearly, she is so busy with her customer that there is no time for any acknowledgment of any sort.  I proceed to try on the jumper and decide that I might need some assistance so I open the curtain and wait.  2 minutes goes by and to no avail because she is busy talking to a closed curtain while her customer is putting on the next outfit.  At this point I remove the jumper, leave it on the hanger and exit the store.

So, is it Amazon that’s killing bricks and mortar? Is it Apple Pay? Or is it not realising the value of the human connection, not being able to acknowledge more than one customer at a time, being antisocial hiding behind the latest tech or task as required by the company.

Gone are the days you can employ someone because they are passionate about your brand or because they have worked in retail before.  Gone are the days you can put them on the shop floor with just the basic company induction and the basic sales skills training.  Big organisations like Amazon, Apple and Lush have already figured out it’s also about the human connection and that it counts more than anything else you can do.

If you are serious about getting back in the game, if you don’t want to see your name in the list of failed businesses, it’s time to take action.  It’s time to layer up your sales training with the human relationships.  Why not email or call me for a discussion on how I can help you.

Enquire about our unique client services today