One of the first jobs I held was with K-Mart. Back then K-mart was one of the top retailers in the country. I was proud of the fact of all the people working at our store, I generated more sales than any other person.
My success was based on one thing. I was good at announcing the “Blue Light Specials.” Most people reading this probably won’t know what a Blue Light Special is, but when I made my announcements shoppers came running to my department with money in their hand. That was a long time ago and things have really changed since then. Now K-mart is at the bottom of the heap.
In May 2007, Quality Digest completed a customer satisfaction survey of the best and worst retailers as ranked by consumers. Here are the results.
Whole Foods Market
Barnes and Noble
Bath and Body Works
Dick’s Sporting Goods
In addition to ranking the best and worst retailers, the survey analyzed the primary reasons shoppers choose one retailer over the other. As a business consultant who specializes in hiring, service, and employee retention, I consider this as the most important aspect of the survey.
Consumer trends and brands change rapidly. What is popular today becomes history tomorrow. However, there are two factors that consistently build customer loyalty, no matter what business you are in.
Which is more important--the price of the product, or the shopping experience? Quality Digest asked people to choose between two factors that would cause them to recommend a store to others. The first factor was "value" which equates to the feeling they "got their money's worth." The other factor was the "shopping experience" which included a gamut of elements such as friendliness, helpfulness of employees, checkout lines, cleanliness, and location of the product.
Front Line Employees Provide the Key to High Customer Satisfaction Scores
In the end, the number one reason people choose a retailer is the "shopping experience." The survey further showed the major contributor to the shopping experience was "employee helpfulness." Value and price are important, but in this survey as well as others, the number one reason shoppers come back over and over again is the shopping experience.
Hiring good employees and then training them on good customer service skills remains the driving force of either creating a positive or negative experience.
Trader Joe's is a different kind of grocery store that provides both value and a pleasing shopping experience. Coming in at #2 on the list, these stores are growing rapidly in popularity. One interesting customer service technique one store uses is the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer. This unique marketing tool generated an additional $40,000 of business during one weekend.