– The service encounter in-store is vital. Everything else is a support function
Møbelringen focuses on the service encounter because it is in the stores that the battle will be fought. The chain wants to improve customer service based on facts which is why it collects customer feedback on an on-going basis.
Henning Eriksen, CEO of Møbelringen Norway, leaves no doubt about how important he believes the service encounter is for the chain.
“The service encounter in-store is vital. Everything else is a support function,” he says to Retailmagasinet.
The customer needs to be given a warm reception when arriving at the store and receive excellent professional advice. The store also has to have an inspiring and attractive display of its products, and the sales staff must remember to give customers tips about products that they may not have known about before they arrived.
“This is key. We have to train for our service encounters. This means everything. There are no ‘browsers’ in-store, only buyers. In future, retailers who choose to invest in development and training of their staff will do better than their competitors,” states Eriksen.
Continuous Training is needed
Henning Eriksen points out that several excellent technological solutions designed to support efficient operations in-store are now available. Technology is something ‘everyone’ can buy.
“I believe that the battle will be to create the best customer experiences in-store. Employees have to learn about the service encounter and practise it,” he says. Eriksen believes that all in-store sales staff have to receive training in how to greet customers and look them in the eye with a helpful smile. They have to be trained in everything that happens from the moment the customer comes in through the door until he or she leaves again.
Due to COVID-19, unfortunately, we have no physical sales training across the areas or within our areas, which is something we need.
“This is too important to leave to each individual store. The way they need to guide the customer and give constructive, customised advice as well as generate confidence with their product knowledge.
Sales staff who are good at giving advice get more customers back into the store, are better at upselling and manage to sell more,” says Eriksen.
Møbelringen has started using Maze in order to receive regular customer feedback and use this to improve its service encounters.
“Our store staff and managers use the tool and are very pleased. Sales staff compare themselves with other sales staff, and store managers measure the store against other stores in the area. Sales staff are really keen to listen to and discuss customer feedback doesn’t come up at the Monday meeting,” says the Møbelringen boss.
“The person who needs customer insights in order to take decisions has poor gut instinct and self-confidence.” This is something Henning Eriksen once heard from a manager and several store owners.
He disagrees. It is better to base yourself on specific customer feedback on an on-going basis. If you generate results without control, it becomes all about luck.
“Now we have the facts and understand what the customer actually experiences. We are able to document everything and not just have a highly subjective opinion,” says Eriksen.
If you have control, you have a much better chance of generating results over time. A structured approach in order to understand customer requirements, what drives the choice of a store and actually trying to understand the competitive environment is all vital in securing success over time,” emphasises Eriksen. What we learn should then be shared with the whole chain, and we need to get everyone to work together towards the goal: to beat previous years performance on all metrics.
– Best customer service in town in this industry
Anders Kristensen is the general manager and owner of the store in Tønsberg that opened in March 2019.
Before they started using Maze, they used Mystery Shopper.
“This worked only moderately well. It became repetitive, information came too late, and we learned that the Mystery Shopper person got recognised. Now we receive systematic feedback directly from customers. Measuring is important,” says Kristensen.
Using the Maze app is simple and efficient. The feedback is seen as exciting by store staff, and they check the app regularly. The tool provides them with the answers as to what is good and less good and where they need to work to improve.
“Maze tracks the additional effort that the sales staff put in, especially on the points customers are asked about. We need to provide the best customer service in the furniture industry in Tønsberg and we are getting feedback to suggest that this is what we are doing. We are hearing that customers are well received in the store and that the service is professional,” says Kristensen.
Anders Kristensen believes that after just two years they have managed to provide the best customer service in the furniture industry in Tønsberg.
Store manager Linda Sørebø states that continuous feedback from customers works to sharpen performance.
Maze sharpens performance
Linda Sørebø is store manager at the Møbelringen store in Tønsberg. They usually receive between five and ten feedback messages from customers on the Maze app every morning.
“Maze works to sharpen performance. We’re interested in the feedback, and we look particularly carefully at the yellow and red feedback from customers who were not completely satisfied. We are also focusing on pushing our ambassador grade even higher,” she says.
The sales staff always have the points measured by the app at the back of their mind. They have a competitive instinct and always want to improve. Maze also increases awareness about recruiting members to the customer club.
“Before we used Maze, we used feelings and gut instinct, but facts are a much better basis than feelings. Now we receive responses from customers in black and white,” says Sørebø.
Retailmagasinet no. 1-2021