Exceptional Customer Interactions – Focus on These Two Things

According to the Merkle Retail 2015 survey, consumers in all demographics rated emails and store interaction with sales associates as the top two preferred interaction options. How can you accelerate your customer-centric strategy using email communications and customer service?

“I have too many emails!” That’s the cry heard throughout all industries – isn’t it ironic that many of us experienced that today with the recent email issue that ASTRA quickly resolved. We get flooded with emails. If the emails are not specific and non-personal, we dismiss them and can even get frustrated by them. It becomes important, then, to think about how we can master the art of our own email communications to our customers.
The key with emails? Less is more. Be focused and do not send out blanket emails. Instead, send emails directed to the specific interests of those you are emailing. If you have identified customers that really like construction toys, send emails on new items in construction just to those customers. Time and time again, point of sale (POS) systems are noted as the easiest way to to track customer purchases and enable you to target market in your email campaigns. As the Merkle study notes: “To remain relevant, retailers will need to shift from high volume broadcast approaches to highly personalized ones.”

Once you have gotten the customers to come into your store with your targeted and personalized email campaign, make sure their store interaction with your sales associates goes above and beyond. Every study done on the retail shopper in the last year uses the term “customer experience” and highlights that retailers must be “consumer-focused.” However, the website Retail Customer Experience references this study by Strativity Group which it was found that “despite enthusiasm to be consumer-focused, retailers aren’t making big strides.” Don’t just talk the talk – make sure you follow through on your commitment to excellent customer service. As part of the study, the following five tips were offered to help accelerate your customer-centric strategy:

  1. Create a meaningful, human cause
  2. Integrate initiatives into a holistic program
  3. Design strategies for employee performance
  4. Align processes with metrics to accelerate
  5. Set the standard at “exceptional” in everything

If big box retailers are lagging, it’s a golden opportunity for ASTRA retailers to excel by showing consumers that specialty stores understand and deliver customer service at its finest.  As the saying goes, “Make hay while the sun shines.” For toy retailers, that sun shines heavily in November and December.  Be ready to make hay.

How do you plan your email communications? What staff training strategies do you put in place? Feel free to share in the comments below!

WarfieldBIO1Sue Warfield is the Director of Member Relations at ASTRA. With more than 30 years of experience in the retail and toy business, Sue offers insight into industry trends and tips and works to connect the retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliates in the specialty toy retailing arena. Contact Sue at swarfield@astratoy.org. 

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