Friday, February 19, 2010

Redefining service

Apart from price and assortment, service has been a key competetive factor in any retail concept. The question is; how much energy do retailers of today innovate their service offer, or even define what good service is? Up until a few years ago, service could be defined by the picture above - a wide assortment to suit any taste, and a top of that, a sales person ready to please.

Is this a universal definition that could last for all times? Most probably not. How many sales persons have you met in your life that really delivered something above the ordinary? How many retailers have categorized the range so that it is easy to find and choose among the merchandise? In a time where a lot of customers do not want to be bothered by a sales person at all, but make his or hers buying decision alone is time to redefine and widen the defintion remarkably.

People are still important, but cannot and should not compensate for bad store planning or signage. The store should be arrange to speak by itself, enabling consumer to choose if and when to interact with sales person.

1. Visualize the service offer

Making it possible to get an understanding of the complete offer saves time, both for the consumer and the staff, as well as it is strengthens the image of giving a wide array of possibilies.

2. Let discount offers speak for themselves

This makes it possible for sales personnel to focus on the consumers wanting the more advanced options.

3. Show that all products are not the same

Making suggestions on what to by in a specific situation, making top lists and arrange combination offers to make it possible to buy a complete function is different than only display products for consumers to discover for themselves or need to ask a person for help to find what they want.

4. Make the offer reachable in time and space

Vendingmachines are making their into new categories including fashion, mobile phones, food and shoes...

5. Use technology to show alternatives

Michel Giullon, an optician has a wide range of glasses but uses simple technology to help people choose.

6. Invite consumers to interact with the store

Build A Bear Workshop, REI, Vom Fass and other retailers make the visit itself a true experience and a part of the product itself.

7. Use education as a possibility to build relations and make consumers even more aware of the possibilities

Apple host seminars in their stores and brittish DIY-retailer BBQ offer tool training to women and children. Guess why? It works!

8. RFID will mean everything in service development

Metro Group have worked with RFID and other high tech devices in order to take service to a whole new level.

9. Don´t fake it-Make truly unique solutions

CB Perfumes takes personalized products to the extreme. Christopher Brosius, founder and owner states "People who smell like everyone else disgust me" indicating that everybody ought to have their own personal scent. And not surprisingly, this is what he offers. At CB Perfumes you can either choose to go through an interview of some 30 minutes where your preferences and personality is evaluated whereafter your unique blend from more than 5000 scents are mixed as you wait. You can also go for the option of recreating a "scent memory" from your child hood or other period in life when you felt comfortable. How about re-live your feelings by sniffing into a bottle of "Grandma´s kitchen"? This is true personalization.

So, take a look around you. Is showing up and smiling in your stores enough anymore?o