Building your Customer Community

You may remember that last week I shared a story about a shopping experience at the local supermarket and how it made me think of the entire customer journey and experience and how we can only hope to control every aspect of it by emulating our expectations ourselves.

Interestingly enough, one of my team members came across the following article; What do Shoppers Value and Want When They Walk Into Retail Stores? Written by Bob Phipps, The Retail Doctor.

In this article, Phipps states; “…shoppers are tired of no service or bad service…They’re tired of meeting bored and disinterested employees”

It was quite reminiscent of the employees I had encountered at the supermarket!

Phipps writes that it is not just about having employees who are “product knowledge specialists”, in addition customers “want to be valued as members of your community”.

How exactly then do your retail assistants, you greeters, your receptionists, your catering staff, your waiting staff, do they make customers feel valued as people? How and what do your employees need to demonstrate in order to augment that customer’s perception of you, your business, your brand and your service. This is something for all retail and customer facing businesses to consider, whether you’re a bargain store or a high-end luxury brand.

The development of a customer community is a concept that many organisations are starting to pay more attention to, the evolution of technology has been critical in enabling this to happen. We talk about getting customers to Know, Like and Trust you over a period of time. This is a process that often takes time and so the building up of that relationship over time is important to enable this to happen. There are different ways in which you can do this, not only should you deliver a quality product and excellent service, but what are things that make you different, or make you special?

One of the interesting points Phipps mentions was that at an ice-cream parlour, people waited 15 minutes in the queue to purchase a $9 bouquet of ice-cream cone and the first thing they did once they got their purchase in their hands was to start taking pictures of it and post it to social media.

Remember that the technology is the enabler, your need to put into place the Strategy that will lead to this. Costco as an example built a community based on a membership card and a regular (postal) newsletter that their customers receive to become aware of what offers are on at the moment. Facebook, Twitter, Instgram and Snapchat are some of the platforms that can you can use today. Your customers will share the fact that they are enjoying your product with their own network of friends and family. We always say the greatest recommendations come from friends and family. It does not need to be a “hard sell” or a “hard push” for this, you can do something simple like a Competition to win free desert. This brings in both a fun element and a community element to your customers, they will share that they are enjoying the experience of buying your services with each other. The fun element should not be discounted, it how you get your brand to become more than just a supplier, you can become part of your customers way of life. We all know that members of a community will stick together through the bond that has been created.

So this is a simple enough idea and approach, you need to have some posters or flyers in store to explain how this works, what the hashtags are and what platforms are supported. You will also need to be mindful of how prepared your team is to support a customer question on this topic, they should be able to answer questions or use the platforms that your business is active on.

So coming back to the original point, can you give more to your customers than just product knowledge? Can you develop a community?