After several decades of decline, 62% of the French population now visit local stores on a regular basis, following a steady 10 point rise in the penetration rate between 2009 and 2014.
If this newfound momentum can partly be explained by France’s ageing population and a growing environmental community advocating local consumption and less car travel, it can also be attributed to local residents’ wish for more social bonds and closer relationships with in-store personnel, which are becoming increasingly rare in city suburb retail parks.
To attract new customers and build loyalty, local store managers must therefore play the card of in-store experience and customer proximity. And to accompany them on this path, many are setting up customer listening tools in their points of sale.
Understanding customer expectations to reinvent the in-store experience
Quality of care, range of services, advice provided, speed of service, staff availability, cleanliness of the premises…By actively listening to their customers, retailers are able to measure their degree of satisfaction towards almost any aspect of the in-store journey. They are in a position to better understand why customers have chosen to visit their store, and more importantly what new services could be developed to avoid customers shunning them again in years to come.
Local service providers are also keen consumers of these new customer focus technologies. Since 2013, the 5àSec group has been conducting continuous customer satisfaction surveys in its dry-cleaning stores thanks to feedback management software, WizVille. Two wheeler specialist DocBiker has also chosen to gather feedback in 20 of its franchises. And with a high response rate and average satisfaction levels of 9.8/10, the group does not hesitate to broadcast the reviews online.
Create a conversation to strengthen proximity
“Everything was perfect, don’t change a thing!”, “Extremely rude and unhelpful staff. Do not recommend.”…No matter what the customers are saying about their in-store experience, each review gives store managers the opportunity to get in touch and engage in a meaningful conversation to build a feeling of trust…and make things right. Customers will appreciate being listened to and more importantly having their feedback taken into account.
By dealing with complaints in real-time, local store managers are also able to avoid seeing negative reviews spread across third-party websites. Detractors who stop all communication with a business following an issue are indeed one of the biggest threats they can face.
Generating in-store traffic
Good communication is also key to attracting new customers. On average happy customers tell 3 people in their immediate environment about their experience. By gathering their reviews and broadcasting them online, stores can take control and ensure that they reach out (indirectly) to even more potential clients. 88% of consumers search for online reviews to check on the quality of service provided before visiting a local business and 34% say that positive reviews are more likely to result in a purchase than special offers or promotions. The bottomline is, the visibility and notoriety of local businesses are more dependant than ever on customer feedback. The recent popularity of websites able to verify the origin of the reviews they publish is not likely to dwindle anytime soon.
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* According to a survey by Kanter Worldpanel, 2014.