As I look at the retail landscape I see retail failing to meet customer expectations. The reasons are many: the customer can now educate themselves better than most in store representatives. The retail store is limited by the brands they offer versus the brand that a customer may want. The store in of itself is inconvenient, you have to travel to a location on your own time often off route. Layer on top of this average customer service at best it is easy to understand why customers are trying to go direct to brand or heading to e-commerce in ever increasing numbers.
So what is retail to do? I believe the highest value of retail must be to focus on the customer. And that means doing what is best for the customer in every interaction. Seems simple right?
It is simple for one person with the right mindset to understand and execute upon but most organization have multiple team members and multiple locations. With organizational diversity, doing what is the best for the customer can take on multiple definitions with multiple outcomes. Consistency becomes an issue. I believe the only way to create consistency is to map out the customer journey and define the customer outcome you want for each customer touchpoint. Each of these touch points should be viewed as “a moment of truth” for meeting the desired customer expectation.
So what is the customer journey? Broad definition: all the interactions or touch points a customer has with a brand during the purchase experience. Starting with the first awareness of need for a product or service to the completion of the transaction and after service element. While this is often portrayed as linear (and it certainly can be with transactional customers) with relationship customers this can be a continuous loop as opposed to a linear journey. I believe focus on this journey by every member of an organizations team is the single most important thing a company can do.
When I put this in context for Flaman Group of Companies, every “touch” is a moment of truth for the customer in their journey, either making the customer experience with Flaman better or worse. When a customer sees an ad, that is a moment of truth; when they drive by a store and look at an organized or disorganized yard, that is a moment of truth; when they walk in to a clean or dirty dealership, that is a moment truth; when they are greeted or not greeted at the door, when they call the store, when they send an email, when they talk to sales, parts, rentals, service, shipping or a driver on a forklift, that is a moment of truth; when they pick up their unit and are helped with hook up for a rental auger, trailer or are helped out to their vehicle with a part or a treadclimber, that is a moment of truth; when they review their invoice or statement, when they call for service, when they call for warranty, when they use what they purchased, when they need help staying motivated with their fitness goals, when they read one of our training tip emails, when they get their equipment serviced, when we call them to thank them for considering our business when we did not get the sale, when we call them to thank them for their business when we did get the sale, when a potential customer asks an existing customer where would they buy a treadmill, trailer, bin, auger, cleaner or part or get their equipment serviced, that is a moment of truth. These are all moments of truth that are all parts of the customer journey.
The point is, every single member of the Flaman team is part of the customer journey. We all make the customer experience. I believe this focus will renew retail with purpose and give customers a reason why they want to shop with a brand.