customer experienceFor retailers, it’s much less about point-of-sale and much more about the entire customer experience. With brands having the ability to reach their customers through every medium (and vice versa), retailers must focus on a more integrated and strategic approach to building relationships and creating positive consumer experiences.

Today’s customer experience encompasses more than ever before – from a tweet to a Facebook post, to the actual point-of-sale and potential post-purchase service – a customer isn’t just someone who makes a purchase. A customer is someone who contemplates a purchase, interacts with the retailer prior and post-purchase, makes the purchase, and expects satisfaction. It’s a full circle of engagement and retailers should be providing an exceptional experience during each stage.

One company that immediately comes to mind and encompasses the epitome of a full service positive customer experience (at least in my humble opinion), is Brooks Brothers. The popular retailer is where I shop for my husband’s work shirts, mainly because they fit well and generally last a few years.

But, unfortunately, this past March, my husband had two shirts that ripped in the elbow only days apart. The first rip we chalked up to it being a defected shirt, but the second rip is when we questioned the possible deterioration of the overall quality.

Because we’ve always had a positive experience with Brooks Brothers clothing, I decided to take to Twitter and ask Brooks Brothers if this was something they were experiencing with other shirts and if they received the same type of comments from other customers. I immediately (in real-time) received a tweet and was asked to email my concerns to discuss further. I emailed and within minutes (seriously, minutes) I received a personal call from a customer service agent who wanted to discuss the issue.

During a short and productive call, the agent listened intently and responded by providing details about why the shirts ripped and offered some tips on how to prevent future rips (by washing less frequently and keeping the dryer on a lower setting). She then offered to send me two new shirts to replace the ripped ones. Even better, since I’ve ordered from Brooks Brothers online with the same email address I used to contact them (and I am assuming this is how she pulled my data), the agent knew my husband’s shirt size and our address and made the process seamless. There, problem solved. And to take it a step further, my husband and I immediately tweeted our gratitude (which they retweeted) and the prompt, personalized, caring service left a lasting impression (I mean, I am writing about it, right?).

This simple example shows how a company cared about a customer. It’s how they used different media to communicate (Twitter, email, a phone call, and direct mail), made the process simple, provided education around the issue, and even offered to replace the products. To me, that is the definition of an excellent consumer experience.

With that being said, each of the steps Brooks Brothers took could fall into the 6 Keys for Creating a Stronger Consumer Experience, which includes:

  1. Think “omnichannel”
  2. Nurture customer advocates
  3. Leverage data for insights
  4. Let consumers control the experience
  5. Personalize experience in real time
  6. Anticipate consumer needs

To learn more about each of these keys for stronger consumer service, check out the slideshare with provides stats and actionable tips. Each key can be applied to a retail company’s customer experience strategy and if embraced, can create a stronger, more powerful customer experience that is aligned with what today’s customer wants.

Creating a Strong Consumer Experience: 6 Keys to Retail Success from SAP