The king of customer service continues to reign. Just a couple days ago, Amazon officially released how many Prime customers it has, over 100 million. For readers that happen to not be one of those 100 million, Prime members are customers that pay a yearly subscription fee to access free shipping, streaming services and more from Amazon. This Motely Fool article explains that Prime customers are Amazon’s most loyal and according to Bezos most demanding customers. Their expectations only increase each year and they expect more value as time goes on and Amazon appears ready to continue to exceed expectations. Now, packages can be delivered directly to a customer’s car. There are some stipulations to qualify, type of vehicle etc. but yet another proof-point of Amazon moving the customer service needle.
For retailers that couldn’t imagine even having 100 million customers and certainly can’t rival Amazon’s technology and resources, how can one compete?
It really comes down to knowing your customers and delivering personalized customer service that goes beyond completing a transaction. How can you make it easy for your customers to do business with you? I thought about retailers that I am loyal to mostly due to the experience I get there. Here are a few examples of companies that have a culture of customer service.
Mariano’s – This is a local grocery chain, now owned by Kroger. After opening near my home several years ago they quickly became our go-to grocery store due to the shopping experience; in store you can pick up a wood oven pizza, browse the sushi bar, or have Mariano’s grill meat you purchase free of charge. I find myself grocery shopping while Mariano’s prepares our family’s meal for the night. Since its opening the store has evolved to meet customer needs by offering Same-Day Delivery and curb-side pickup. The method to purchase groceries is easy and they even offer cooking options.
Shinola – I’ve only ever made one Shinola purchase but they do come to mind when it comes to creating a community of their shoppers. While browsing the store, associates offer Shinola cola or Shinola beer. Since visiting the store before Christmas, they’ve texted me to invite me to events they are hosting and even sent a hand-written thank you note after the purchase. It doesn’t get more personal than that.
Target – I couldn’t write about shopping experiences without mentioning Target. Where Target stands out as a brick-and-mortar retailer is in how they’ve tied technology into the shopping experience. The Target app allows customers to scan any item in the store to find out its price as well as search for extra discounts through a coupon service called Cartwheel. I recognize that in exchange for this service, Target collects data on my shopping preferences but if it helps them know me and better personalize my future shopping experiences, it is an exchange I’ll gladly make.
While Amazon is a master at knowing their customers and creating exceptional customer experiences, retailers don’t need Amazon’s customer-base or revenue to personalize customer service and delight customers. Associate training and appropriate technology investments, like a customer engagement center can go a long way towards uniting every experience a customer has with your brand, on every channel.
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