The Customer Experience Series: Convenience Store

 

The third simple strategy of the 5 Simple Strategies that keep you from ever having customer services issues in the first place is called Convenience Store… as in 7-11; Circle K; QuikTrip; Wawa; RaceTrac; Speedway; Sheetz.

You know, convenience stores; stores that are convenient.

To prevent customer service issues from occurring in your business, you must focus on convenience. Convenience, in and of itself, is actually good customer service. We know this is true, because inconvenience equals bad customer service.

Need an example of how convenience equals a great customer experience? Then look no further than the Zappos return policy. The de facto originator of the no-hassle, no-haggle, free returns, Zappos makes it super-easy to return anything, any time, no questions asked.

Prior to Zappos, returning anything anywhere usually required an original receipt, three forms of ID, a sworn statement from a priest and a 30% restocking fee. Zappos (and now nearly everyone else on the web) even allows returns just because you feel like returning it.

Of course, these free and easy web returns have forced brick and mortar retailers like Walmart to now make returns easy. They no longer ask you a lot of questions, they don’t treat you like a criminal, they just make it convenient; and convenience means simplicity.

Do You Run a Convenience Store?

Ask yourself a few questions as you look closely at your business:

  • Can anyone easily do business with us?
  • Is our website intuitive and easy – even for new visitors?
  • Would a brand new customer walking into our business know where to go, know what to do, and be able to find the right person?

This last point is known as ‘new customer onboarding.’ If you run a real convenience store, like a 7-11, brand new customers can figure everything out fairly quickly. There is no learning curve necessary for new customer onboarding at 7-11. Your business, however, could very well be intimidating to a new customer… and you wouldn’t even know it.

You see your business every day. You know where everything is and how everything works. So do your employees and your regulars. New customers, of course, may have no clue; and it’s new customers who represent your growth, so making it convenient for them to spend their money is critical to your business’s success.

Look Differently at Convenience

If you’re a senior leader or the business owner, making sure new customers can easily spend money with you should be a top priority. Whether at your service drive in a car dealership, at your restaurant, your coffee shop, your hotel, etc., can a new customer easily find exactly where they need to go to spend their money? This means everything from clearly marked check-in areas to clearly marked prices to always-staffed cashier stands.

Realize this: if it’s not convenient, and your new customers become frustrated, they will most certainly never return.

Convenience Matters to Regulars Too

Little hurdles and hassles for first-time customers can be gigantic road blocks to growth; but, so too can any inconvenience that causes your regulars to think you don’t value their time. Studies show that almost three out of four consumers say that the number one thing companies should do is value their time.

Believe it or not, if you want to show your customers you value their time, you should make them do more for themselves. Interestingly, up to half of today’s consumers prefer self-service options at the retail level. Think of it as the difference between using an ATM versus standing in line at the bank. Certainly, nearly every human on the planet would prefer to use the ATM. It’s a better overall customer experience.




So, as you focus on convenience at your business – especially how you’ll make it convenient in the future – definitely consider automation. Consumers aren’t looking to have a relationship with you; they don’t really want you to be more personal; they just want you to be better at serving them.

Consumers want you to be good at what you do; they want you to be convenient; and they want you to automate more, not less.

Especially When Solving Their Issues

Consider your cable company during an Internet outage.

Would you prefer to call a help desk, wait on hold for four minutes, then speak with someone at a centralized call center who uses corporate jargon to make excuses about the outage before telling you they expect the outage to continue for at least another 45 minutes; or, would you prefer to use your smartphone to navigate to a webpage that shows you the same information once you enter your zip code?

No contest, right? Today’s consumer would choose convenience and automation over personalization any day of the week!

Next up in the series: Real Alignment.

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Why Does Good Customer Service Matter?)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in The Customer Experience, is the host of Undeniable Advantage Live!, a monthly live video webcast and customer service training provider hosted at UndeniableAdvantage.com. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at SteveStauning.com.