Recently while flipping through television channels, I stumbled across a PBS documentary about the impact Harry Gordon Selfridge had on retail world. For those not familiar with Selfridge, he started his career in the Marshall Field stores in Chicago and opened his own department store Selfridges in London in 1909.
With the opening of his store on Oxford Street in London, Selfridge flipped the retail world upside down. He was among the first retailers to create a customer experience. Selfridge’s gut told him he needed to change the relationship with the patron. Instead of having “floorwalkers” focused on removing “window-shoppers,” Selfridge made products easy to access for consumers moving the perfume counter to the first floor lobby and placing products on display to touch and see.
He created a welcoming environment with philosophy: Go ahead and look around because at some point you will buy. His theory was pretty simple—get more shoppers in by allowing them to interact with products and keep them in the store by adding amenities, such as ladies changing rooms, restaurants and even welcoming room. The roof of the store was even used for strolling and converted for fashion shows.
Selfridge, Fields, and other pioneering retailers used the phrase “The customer is always right.” Selfridge took this to heart and gave the customer the ability to provide their feedback on what was hot and what is not. While we take these ideas for granted today, they were revolutionary in the early 1900s.
Let’s fast-forward 100 years to today. What can we take from Selfridge and use in today’s fast-paced technology world where consumers can get what they want when they want it delivered to their door? How can we give the customer the next revolutionary experience? First you have to ask them what they want and second act on their responses.
As consumers, we are inundated with requests to submit feedback. We receive emails shortly after a purchase. Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and Pinterest pins provide us with opportunities to provide feedback (solicited or unsolicited) on the products and services that we consume. Restaurants even ask for our feedback on payment kiosks after we finish a meal. In essence we have moved from a world where feedback was rarely solicited (if it was, it was by mail) to a world where we are consistently asked and the business has to keep up with the information that is provided.
Enter technology advancements for businesses to gather feedback. Whether you are looking at sentiment analysis on your brand, facilitating customer surveys, or providing the latest customer service advancements to enhance the customer experience, technology has continued to evolve to provide organizations with the appropriate tools to provide the best customer experience that can drive your organization to provide the best customer experience. Here are a few options:
Survey Says! – By using surveys, you can create and send out questionnaires to collect feedback from your customers. With the latest technology tools, surveys can be taken via the phone, tablet, or computer and rules can be created to trigger follow-up actions based off the feedback captured in the survey. Negative responses can be routed into a customer service queue for specialized follow-up. And do follow up on those negative responses, immediately.
Turn Customer Service into Company Innovation – By implementing an interactive service desk, you can consolidate knowledge management for common customer service questions and answers. The key here is creating one system to track all customer service requests and questions (whether via your call center or online service portal). The result? Keen insight into the commonalities in product or service issues, which may result in your next product/service innovation or model upgrade.
Take a Social Pulse: Interested in learning what your customers are saying about your brand? Through new social listening and analytics technology, you can listen and drive engagement with your customers via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, videos and news. Get the real lowdown on what people think about your brand, product or service with these innovative tools.
Just like the opportunity that Harry Gordon Selfridge was presented in the early 1900s, your organization is now being presented with an opportunity to drive exceptional customer experiences using the latest in technology tools to gather customer experience feedback. Listen and learn from it because after all—the customer is always right.
Andy Brockett is channel Business development manager at Allegient LLC.