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Customer Experience: How to Get it Right

It seems like almost too-obvious an insight: If you are going to survive and thrive in business, you have to satisfy your customers.

Otherwise, you won’t have any, right?

But those who implore you simply to “satisfy your customers” are only begging the core question: Exactly how do you go about satisfying your customers?!

Retail consultants Anne Brouwer and Mara Devitt of McMillianDoolittle recently shared their answer to this endemic question, offering the “8 C’s of Customer Experience” at the Retail’s BIG Show expo in New York City.


  • Clarity: Conceiving the right positioning, well-defined and communicated, current and relevant.
  • Convenience: Maintaining the right location and channel presence – making sure you’re easy to find and accessible.
  • Choice:Retailers have to provide customers with the right selection, their products and services well-managed, well-priced and well-presented.
  • Communications: You need the right design and layout – Brouwer and Devitt pointed to concepts of adjacencies, flow, zones, look and feel, fixtures, navigation, messaging hierarchy and signing.
  • Cast: The right team is important, but they need to be coached and developed through the right organization, taught about productive behaviors, and imbued with a service mindset.
  • Control: This sixth “C” boils down to creating the right process to foster flexible, customer-oriented sales and service infrastructures.
  • Consistency: Always, always be consistent – across time, across place and across channels.
  • Connection: Finally, you need to cultivate a proper sense of relationship by building loyalty and profitability over time.

Retailers around the world strive, obviously, to create the ideal customer experience – one that will endure, loyally, and continue to grow and evolved. So, who’s on the list of those who do it right? Well, Brouwer and Devitt identified nine:

Whole Foods customers are passionate ambassadors and the retailers’ well-defined positioning, helps them stay relevant in the marketplace. The brand stands for something that’s of high value to their targeted customer and this ensures lasting value.

Walgreens get this right by being close to their customers anytime, anyplace. They’re available whenever, wherever, and however, through all channels, including their drive through drugstores.

Anthropologie and Crate&Barrel, with their great merchandise selection and their appealing presentation of that merchandise, both check the choice box. At the same time their pricing and value is always appropriately communicated – making getting ‘choice’ right, look effortless. It’s fantasy of ownership delivered.

Williams Sonoma gets full marks for easy store navigation, great signing at multiple levels and great store design. Furthermore, their clear product signing means customers are clearly communicated with.

The Container Store hires and develops brand zealots, who live the lifestyle and love the product. They invest heavily in training and hire, and coach their team to deliver to the highest of customer expectations.

Giving customers the option to have their meal made to order, customized online and picked up in store is a key strength of Chipotle.

J.Crew gets consistency right, using exceptional precision across all functions and channels of customer experience and organization.

And finally, Sephora uses events, mobile apps, and social networks to stay front of mind with their customers.

Bottom line: As a business, you expect your vendors to provide quality and service – to treat you a little specially. As a shopper, aside from your professional life, you want a retailer to treat you right, whether you’re looking to purchase an ice cream cone or a new car.

Why should you expect those who buy from you to be any different?