I keep coming back to this question as I see more and more retailers closing up shop. The latest, Gander Mountain. Now to be fair, there are a variety of reasons that lead to the closures of these stores.
By in large retailers of all sizes have failed to adapt to changing consumer purchasing habits. Consumers don’t just buy from a company because “we’ve been around for 50+ years” anymore. Brand loyalty is largely hard to come by now with the exception of a few companies out there that have by in large figured out how to make it easy for me to buy from them. One company in particular stand out that were heading down the path of Sears and RadioShack before throwing out the old playbook everybody was comfortable with.
Home Depot introduced change into their organization and are thriving because of it. Their revenue grew by just under 6% and their online sales grew by 17%! Their sales of flooring is credited with much of their growth last quarter. They ran a sale of free installation for any purchase of flooring over $700. No asterisks, no hassles.
What does this pricing tell the consumer? It’s easy! Not only that as a consumer I can buy whatever I’m interested in online and pick it up in the store. This is what I mean by making it easy for me to buy from you. Home Depot has moved much of the friction in the purchasing process and has empowered me to buy whatever I’m looking for the way I want to buy it and have given me an option of how I choose to pick said goods up or delivered. I am being served, not serviced and there is a huge difference between the two.
Most lumber yards and flooring retailers tout their customer service as “what makes them different”. Well if everybody is saying their customer service is what separates them then is it really what separates you? Customer service in and of itself is very reactionary.
There are too many options for consumers today to find the experience they are looking for.
Let’s say a customer buys flooring from you but has a problem with the installation. The customer calls to complain and at that point you find a resolution for the problem. Customer Service. Now, using the same scenario but instead of the customer calling you to explain their’s a problem with the installation the saleswoman who made the sale called the customer the day after the installation to ask the customer if they’re satisfied with the installation. Served. Do you see the difference in the kind of experience that customer has now had with your brand?
There are too many options for consumers today to find the experience they are looking for when it comes to buying lumber, doors, windows, flooring or remodeling their kitchen. What’s going to make you different is not your customer service, it’s the experience you create when I walk into your showroom and how easy you will make it for me to buy from you.
This can be accomplished by equipping the individuals your customer facing employees need to thrive in today’s business world. This includes giving them a place to manage the entire lifecycle of the customer relationship, technology that allows them to digitally measure a room, interactive software to show the customer what their kitchen will look like, sending your quotes or contracts out to be digitally signed, order tracking for the customer and accounting/inventory software that doesn’t tie you to a server in the backroom.
Change is not coming, it’s already here and modern companies that have embraced that change are not only reaping the rewards now but will continue to thrive into the future. Why haven’t you?