The Customer Experience

by Barbara Crowhurst

Improving levels of customer experience has become a top priority for retailers and a competitive advantage. It increases brand loyalty and keeps today’s customers coming back, whether it’s to your brick-and-mortar location or your online shop.

Retailers differentiate yourself – your business future depends on it

The basic definition of the customer experience encompasses all of the interactions a customer has with your store, products and services. Your detailed understanding of the customer experience will get you further ahead in today’s competitive retail marketplace.

Think about the moment a customer first learns about you. Was it through your website, social media, traditional advertising, email marketing, walking by the store or by word of mouth? The customer experience has begun. Make sure every touchpoint is favourable. You may not get a second chance to convert that prospective customer.

When customers enter your store, be sure to ask how they heard about you. Listen to what they say and what has brought them in. You’ll learn a lot about what you’re doing that works to influence their shopping habits.

Take every step possible to ensure that your customers’ experiences are the best that you can possibly make them.

Who are your customers?

Before you can fully improve your customers’ experience you need to know who your customers are. Write a customer profile: their age, where they live, what they make a year, are they married, single, what they like to do in their spare time and general interests. This will help you identify ways to fine tune how you connect with your customers and if your product fits with your customers’ needs.

Survey your customers at your store, through email, direct mail or on your website. Ask customers how they found out about your store products or services, how often they buy it and where they purchase it. Ask customers to rate your staff, customer service, store layout or website design.

Here’s a free Store Evaluation Survey from Retail Makeover:  

Train your sales staff!

I can’t speak to this issue strongly enough. Your staff must share and deliver your vision and message for the customer experience. Hire and train people that exhibit ownership.

Invest in these both in money and time. It will be well worth it. Enhance your sales staff’s education and skills through sales training programs, updated product knowledge and the customer service experience standards you have set. You want the interaction between the customers and your staff guaranteed to be positive because they know what you want.


Because we are multisensory as people, a shopper is no different in their impressions of your store. Customers use their sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste to assess you and gain a well-rounded impression. Connect with all the senses both in your brick-and-mortar location and online, and you will be well on your way to making the customer take notice.

Connect on a one-on-one level

Customers like to feel like the retail stores they shop in know who they are and understand their interests and needs. Making the customer experience personal as often as possible is important. Knowing what types of technology or media customers want to hear from you on is essential. Is it their smart phone, text, social media, direct mail or email?

Research shows that the most-effective way to communicate to consumers because of the amount of time we spend in front of our computers is email. Email marketing is such an important tool for this part of the customer experience strategy.

Knowing what your customers buy from you and how often they buy is the second piece in this strategy. You will be able to zero in and invite them to visit your store or website when what the customer has previously bought from you or shown interest in meets what you are currently promoting. This is the integral one-on-one connection with the people who shop in your store.

Barbara Crowhurst is North America’s leading retail business coach. She also writes retail specific articles, blogs and e-books, and is an international speaker. Her comprehensive and detailed approach to retail comes from years of working in the industry with some of the largest corporate retail stores in North America and tens of thousands of independent retailers.

Barbara was a Retail Solutions Seminars speaker at the Fall 2017 Toronto Gift Fair.