Thanks to the proliferation of social media and viral video, one customer’s experience can suddenly become every customer’s experience. Top retailers know that the voice of the customer (VOC) has become more important than ever before. Managing every customer’s encounter with your brand will make everyday shopping experiences memorable…in a good way. Take into account a few examples of brands getting it right
Barnes & Noble
Before rolling out its new NOOK eBook reader, all Barnes & Noble booksellers (i.e. employees at retail outlets), no matter what the experience level, were re-trained to ask questions during customer interactions that would help them to better assess a customer’s needs. Then, booksellers learned how to recommend Barnes & Noble’s branded products, including NOOK, and to clearly explain how the products would meet customer expectations. Despite its public troubles, Barnes & Noble is alive when other booksellers have gone bankrupt, thanks to its efforts to manage its brand by managing employee/customer interactions.
As more and more of Bottega Venetta’s business transitioned to the web, customers lost the physical interaction that enabled them to appreciate the artisanal quality of handmade Bottega Venetta bags. The company responded by posting online videos documenting how the products were crafted. The short films, called “The Art of the Collaboration,” were posted not only on Bottega Venetta’s website but also on Facebook and Twitter. By posting the videos, the company found an innovative way to give customers a brand encounter without the physical presence of the product, something its customers craved.
In a world where businesses have transitioned online to save money, L.L. Bean has opened more brick and mortar stores. Knowing that its Freeport, Maine, flagship store was a destination for customers worldwide, the company chose to make that experience available in locations with high concentrations of catalog shoppers, both domestically and internationally. In spite of a warm winter season that cut into its sales of outdoor gear, L.L. Bean saw an increase of 5.5 percent over the previous year’s sales in 2011.
Even when customer expectations seem to defy logic, retailers that listen will deliver the right brand encounter. But there’s always the case where customer experiences should NOT be shared, or at least not solicited from the general public. Take the McDonald’s Twitter fiasco, for one. When the brand asked people to share their “#MCDStories” on Twitter using the corresponding hashtag, they got everything from diabetes and heart attack jokes, to former employees touting their weight loss since leaving the company. As Forbes appropriately put it, their hashtag became a “bashtag.”
Just make sure your customer experiences are ones you want the world to know about, and when you do spread them, make sure it’s a carefully curated process.