Nov 08 2022
The Female Consumer; Understand HER Influence.
A few summers ago ( oh heck, way back pre COVID ), my house was the place to be for my kids, their friends and all the moms. Around 3:32 pm every Friday, my front door opened and closed as a revolving door in a fancy hotel on the Vegas strip. Kids in, kids out. Generally, the mom’s stayed close to the rose. But the other door that swirled with action was my fridge door! See, I had this rule; no kid was to ask me IF they could get something to eat; they were to take what they wanted.
The afternoons would wind down, and the vultures (aka the kids) would stumble into the kitchen to let us moms know it was that time; dinner time. Of course, every week’s meal was different, and they were always excited to know what yummy food would fill their bellies. My dining table sat nine comfortably; I often had 11 or 12 little bums to squish in; magically, we always figured it out.
The kiddies would squish in; the moms would plate and serve the food. We placed juice and condiments on the table and let them enjoy the feast, and we enjoyed the (often) hilarious conversations that took place.
Like a bolt of lightning, the food was gone, and so were the kids.
Rinse, repeat, every Friday for as long as I can remember.
You might wonder why I am telling you the story of my kid’s crazy Fridays. Well, one day, not too long ago, I got a call from one of my mom friends. “Katie, how are you?” she started the conversation, “I am good, how have you been? It has been forever since we’ve gotten together” I could hear her laughter over the phone. “Isn’t the saying of the last few years, I miss you!” I smiled. “I miss you too” before I could go on, she cut me off “we also miss our Fridays and I thought you would enjoy what just happened in the grocery store! I was shopping with the kids, going down the aisles as I normally do, when my boy told me to stop. He said, “Mom, get that juice; it’s the one Noah and Ela’s mom had at their house!” So I did, and we talked about all our fun times at your place. We should start that up again; we all miss those Fridays.”
We made plans to do just that, and last Friday, I had a house full of kids and a bottle of rose!
Here’s how this story impacts you.
A CPO in the corporate world is a person who is responsible for the strategy and execution of all product-related activities within an organization.
See, women are the Chief Purchasing Officers of the home. She is responsible for making the home (organization) run smoothly. She chooses the shampoo you use, the food you eat, and the products your kids are exposed to and most often, her influence spreads far past just one organization (family) into that of those she impacts; her kids’ friends, her mother, sister, brother, inlaws and friends. She is usually the person most focused on the needs and preferences of those surrounding her.
When I got this call, it got me thinking I needed to share this story and the impact she has on your business. For example, every time a kid ran up my driveway, they noticed the car brand I drove, which plays a part in priming their mind for their vehicle of choice in the future. Or like the example of the juice my friend’s son just had to have; he was exposed to it every Friday and remembered it; not only did he remember it, he asked for it, and his mom bought it.
Women, do and will continue to, influence all household purchases. Women are the Chief Purchasing Officers in their households and the most influential consumers in the world. We are the economy of the United States. As women have become more educated, with far more financial strength and decision-making abilities, their earning power has grown exponentially.
According to Inc., “Women earn more higher-education degrees than men and start new businesses at a faster rate. Women’s earning power is growing faster than men’s. And women now make up more than half of Twitter users and Facebook subscribers.” In fact, according to the Inclusionary Leadership Group, women make or influence 83 percent of all non-business-to-business consumer purchases. Not only do females hold veto power on the majority of purchasing decisions, but they are also a business’s number one referral source!
Being aware of her impact is the tip of the iceberg. You must also know her influence, which will only benefit your brand experience strategies so they resonate with the decision maker: the woman. Yet the reality is, most businesses still don’t take this huge female customer segment very seriously, and organizational team members are not given the tools to tailor the customer experience to women. In a very real, male-dominated world, women are still dealing with the long-standing idea of the perceived female lack of power when in fact she has been the main influencer of purchases for centuries.
It’s puzzling to me just how few organizations don’t take a closer look at this customer group; after all, she is the most powerful customer. She directly impacts your top line, referrals, and future customer base.
Take notice of the brands your kids gravitate to, and ask yourself, is my brand one SHE would stand behind; do I provide an experience that SHE can’t live without? If you are unsure, it’s time to CustomHER Experience.
Jun 24 2019
Phycologists say that humans rarely take on new behaviors past the age of 16 unless they experience a significant emotional event.
Traditional training in a classroom, didactical lectures, or even e-training does not provide learners with a high enough emotional impact; leading the knowledge learnt through training that comes and goes like the tide of the ocean.
One of my favorite sayings I use ALL the time during my training sessions is “I know Monday will come” meaning we will go back to routine, step onto our preverbal hamster wheel and not change a thing. We keep doing what we’ve always done; leaning into what our parents, teachers, leaders and other role models in our youth have taught us to do. However I have figured out that there is a way to awaken our senses and provide experiential training that has an emotional impact!
If you want your team to action what they are learning then flip your training right side up and have them experience what it is they are supposed to be learning or delivering.
Connecting the dots
I had finished a keynote on ‘How to Deliver a Five Start Experience’ at a spa and esthetics conference where I chose to capitalize on the fact that my entire team was in one room! We are a remote company which makes meaningful training extremely difficult. With excitement, I decide to ‘carpe memento’ and I rounded them up when the room had emptied and said to them “if you’re going to train on how to deliver a five star experience you need to experience what five star is!” and off we went to visit one of them most iconic hotels known for its five-star experience; Ritz Carlton. As a bonus, I had a client present, so I brought them along for the experience!!
We ate at the restaurant within the Ritz and as the meal and service progressed I would ask the team what they saw, felt, and observed. It was magical to see my team and client connect the dots of theory into practice. We focused on all the details it truly takes to deliver an experience that is thoughtful, seamless, and memorable. I watched their eyes light up every time they knew they noticed a little detail that made a BIG difference!
One particular moment comes to mind from that night. Everyone who knows me knows that I love a glass of rose at the end of a long day. Naturally I proceeded to shift through the wine list for a dry rose. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a rose by the glass on the menu. Our server that night didn’t miss a beat. In true Ritz Carlton fashion when I asked if they had a dry rose by the glass she said absolutely and proceeded to tell me the options. I asked her to try a certain one and she said of course. Here’s the thing- she could’ve stopped there and just given me the option I requested. Instead she listened to the description of what I was looking for and when she returned to give me the taste of rose had requested she also brought a bottle of Whispering Angel (my fav!!!). With excitement and passion, she presented the bottle of Whispering Angel and said “I went looking to see if we had anything else I could offer you that would suit your palate and I found a bottle of Whispering Angel! It is dry and crisp and really fits with what you were looking for, would you like a glass of this?” and of course I said yes!
My team and client were watching the whole interaction, and once the server left they got so excited for me! They pointed out everything she did and in that moment, saw the difference in experience that a five-star experience provides. Turning everything they have ever learnt into reality. But what was even more impactful was the emotion of excitement they felt while they observed and listened.
Not only did they experience the difference, they described the difference. They walked away with stories to tell which sparked an emotional event and in turn has them living and teaching the theory they’ve been taught.
I do this during my workshops and trainings as well! I was recently with a group for a two-day workshop. Day one was focused on the theory behind cultivating a five-star experience and day two was focused on experiencing and building a five-star experience. I had part of the team shop their locations and the other shopped competitors. This really opened up their minds and helped them to see the ‘theory’ in action. The result was amazing! The team was engaged, energized, and excited to make their experience the best in the retail industry!
I am not the only one doing this, however there are a select few that do. Surprise, Ritz Carlton is in that prestigious group. How can they expect their teams at all levels around the world deliver a world class experience if they don’t know what it is? Each employee has the opportunity to stay one weekend at a Ritz Carlton with their family so they can feel what it’s like to experience “Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen”. Pure brilliance!
Look outside your industry
Send your teams to restaurants, hotels, spas, coffee shops, retail shops, and really any company that provides an experience that you feel you want to provide. During their experience ask the them to document the following areas:
• The company
• Detailed description of the experience
• What they did that blew them away
• How they felt, and
• What best practice can be actioned with your organization
Empowering your team members to experience what you preach and giving them the opportunity to be part of designing the ever evolving experience your company provides will have them feeling invested. But most importantly they will feel an emotional shift; which is the only way to get them to do differently.
There are so many ways to deliver experiential training, but if you’re not doing it then you’re missing out. Because Monday will come and your team will not experience that emotional event which connects the dots between your expectation and their delivery. They will continue to do as they always do.
May 13 2019
Why does it matter; why should you tailor the brand experience to the Decision Maker; the woman?
Besides the fact that women are the original social media, sharing their stories of outstanding experiences and happenings in life with just about anyone that will listen, they have now been given a platform to spread their message far and wide, and the whole world is listening. On the opposite end of exceptional experiences an inconsistent and disjointed experience (which is what most women receive when shopping for a vehicle); women will share these stories with the same passion as they do the good ones.
Women are also the Chief Purchasing Officer in their home and are the number one referral source. Carl Sewell, the author of Customers for Life, states that the lifetime value of a customer equates to $517,000. By not curating an experience for the female buyer not only are you losing her lifetime value, but you are also losing the potential of her referral network, and with the social platform she is handed; Ms. Social will let the world know her opinions on a massive scale.
Let’s face it; although we would like to have seen a more significant shift in gender equality through the years, there hasn’t been a huge leap forward. 85% of the world’s executives are still men, and in the car industry, men hold over 80% of the positions within dealerships. This means that the car shopping experience is still designed by men, for men, and delivered by men. The urgency to flip the lens, put ourselves in the shoes of the world’s most influential consumers and create standards that help sales associates create an experience that lives up to her expectations is even more prevalent as women will walk away and choose another dealer to purchase from.
Want to know why it’s important to focus on her experience? The female consumer has a direct impact on your top line and future success!
Here are five tips to tailor your brand experience to the Decision Maker; The Woman.
1. Understand the Decision Maker.
It’s important to remember when creating a Consumer Persona for the female consumer that she wants to be understood first as a woman and second as a consumer. Flip the lens, understand your consumer’s life stages in order to tailor and personalize the experience you offer.
2. Journey through her eyes.
Once you have a 30,000-foot view of the female consumers that shop with you it’s time to break down the journey from her perspective. Perception is the customer’s reality. When designing a program for the female consumer (or any consumer or employee), it is imperative that the experience is designed from their point of you. The golden rule that grandma preached; treat others the way you want to be treated is a thing of the past. You must live by the platinum rule; treat others the way they need or want to be treated.
3. Create real relationships.
One of the most significant differences between male and female consumers is that women WANT to create a relationship with the sales associate; whereas men could go either way. In a recent study I lead, 69% of the female participants said that the sales associate didn’t take time to get to know her, the same 69% also said that they didn’t trust the sales associate. Women crave connection. Her decisions are driven by the way she feels about you, your brand and the experience you provide.
4. Train for EQ.
If a team member has high EQ, they will be able to execute tip 2 & 3, without this creating a real relationship and a tailored experience becomes very tough. It’s important to have the skills and knowledge to do the job; however, we can train most of these skills. One of the top reasons women walk out of dealerships is because they don’t like the way they were approached or treated. Those with high EQ can read people’s nonverbal cues and can adjust their approach based on the needs of each consumer.
5. Be consistent.
As I have mentioned, building a trust account with your female consumer base is extremely important when it comes to her desire to purchase a vehicle and refer you. Consistency is a key factor in the trust she has in you.
Each one of these tips will help to create an experience that will promote a female-friendly environment and increase the number of females shopping in your dealership, which untimely will increase your CSI results on all fronts.
Feb 14 2019
Do you remember the first time you fell in love?
I remember the first time I fell in love. I was 15 years old and was head over heels for my hockey player boyfriend. Right before I would meet him, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach, my sweaty palms, the goosebumps on my arms, when I felt the excitement walk around the corner of our high school hallway.
Do you remember similar feelings of falling in love for the first time? Because if you do, then you understand the way your customers feel when they fall in love with your brand!
The chemical reactions that happen inside you when falling in love are the same chemical reactions women have while shopping. It’s simple; it’s science!
Let me lead you through the journey to falling in love…
As a women-centric business, you want women to fall in love with your brand and emotionally attach themselves to your brand.
There are three chemicals that are released inside a woman’s body when she is shopping:
Well, for those who don’t know, these are the same chemicals released when you fall for someone!
According to Harvard University, dopamine is a chemical produced by our brain that plays a starring role in motivating behavior. It gets released when we take a bite of delicious food, when we have sex, after we exercise, and, importantly, when we have successful social interactions. In an evolutionary context, it rewards us for beneficial behaviors and motivates us to repeat them.
When your experience focuses on the interaction a female consumer has with you, Dopamine is released. This chemical release leads to her desire to repeat these repetitive interactions with your brand. Shopping is, indeed, addictive!
Serotonin is also known as the “happiness chemical”, which plays a role in how a person feels about things. Creating an experience that stimulates happy feelings will, in turn, stimulate the release of Serotonin. The goal here is to send a woman on a journey filled with positive stimuli. This way she feels happy throughout her experience with your brand.
Oxytocin (the bonding hormone) is released the same way while shopping as it does when falling in love. This hormone affects women more rigorously. Women want to connect with your brand and when you take the experience you offer to one step further and create a relationship with your consumers, you are entering a bonding zone. Once she has bonded with your brand, she is bound to be fiercely loyal.
Why do you want the decision maker (she) to fall in love with your brand?
So why should you take out time to tailor your Consumer Brand Experience for female consumers?
Women are the Chief Purchasing Officers for their households and the most influential consumers in the world. According to Inclusionary Leadership Group,
Women influence 83% of all consumer spending in the United States, which is worth $7 trillion annually.
Not only do they hold the veto vote on the majority of purchasing decisions, but also can be your number one referral source!
Most businesses don’t take this customer segment seriously and do not invest in enough resources to tailor the experience a woman receives when doing business with them.
Further, according to author Bridget Brennen, men make up 85% of the executives of the world! This gap between who buys and who designs the customer experience is enormous. The brand experience is ultimately created by men who are physiologically different from women.
It’s about the chase!
I am going to let you in on a little secret; it’s not about the product she buys. What matters is the journey she takes when she interacts with your brand. It is the chase she enjoys!
It is about the little moments when she connects with your brand and creates a relationship with you that dictates whether or not she’ll choose to do business with you again.
Much like the notation of ‘Retail Therapy’, women tend to go out when they are having a bad day or feeling down for some retail therapy. I know this is something that is made fun of in movies and books, but there is some truth to it.
Women feel better when they journey through a mall, they get little hits of dopamine and release of serotonin; turning their not so great day into a better one (until she gets her credit card bill that is!)
Brands can learn from this habit of retail therapy. She will have hits of dopamine and serotonin and if you do a really good job, she will start to create a bond with your brand. Examining the journey your female consumer takes with your brand and tweaking it to include all the little moments that make her fall in love with your product or service is in your best interest!
How women’s buying behavior is different from those of men?
There are behavioral differences between men and women and their expectations from interacting with the brand. These differences can be scientifically linked to the physiological differences between men and women.
Both the genders are different and it’s up to you to identify how to tailor an experience that works for both men and women. In my experience, if you build a brand experience, keeping women in mind, men should be ok with it. However, if you build an experience for the male customer, the female consumer will not like it in the slightest. I always urge my clients to build their experience with the woman in mind.
Research shows the size of a female’s limbic brain (the part of the brain that controls emotions and memory) is double the size of a man’s brain.
We don’t make decisions based on logic; rather, we make decisions based on our feelings. Drawing physiological differences between men and women are important. Women need to feel good about interacting with your brand.
Conversations are the glue that binds women from an early age and women are master communicators. They use both sides of their brain to communicate while men only use one. Women want a relationship with your brand and she needs to be able to communicate how she’s feeling and what she wants and expects from your brand.
Letting the female consumer communicate with your brand goes a long way to creating an experience that she enjoys having. So you should utilize every opportunity to communicate with her over multiple channels; be it social media, live chat, help desk or surveys.
Three tips to make the Decision Maker fall in love with your brand/business.
Here are three tips you can implement to help nudge her down the path of falling in love with your brand:
1. Understand the decision maker
The female consumer wants to be understood as a woman first and a consumer second.Typical age/sex and other demographics aren’t adequate for segmenting and creating a consumer persona. You’ll need to break your female consumers into life stages; the ’40s are the new ’30s and the ’30s are the new ’20s; women are getting married later in life and having kids in their late ’40s.
Once you have your female customer broken down into life stages, you will want to define the goals she has and the challenges she faces at each life stage. You will now be able to determine how your brand and its services can help her fulfill her dreams and resolve the challenges.
2. Journey through her eyes
We experience approximately 20,000 moments in a day and we determine whether we’ve had a good or bad day based on the number of positive, neutral, and negative moments we have. Our brain then sidelines neutral moments ( as they leave no impact) and we hold on to the good or bad.
If your customers have had more bad moments before they interact with your brand you can almost guarantee their day is already off to a “bad start”. Don’t you want to be the highlight of their day? Be the reason their day goes from “bad” to “good” or “good to great”?
The only way to ensure this is to provide the decision maker with an experience that speaks to her; you need to see from her viewpoint and develop the experience from that point of view.
For example, women will pay 32% more in a hedonic atmosphere. Ask your female employees, what experience they look for and use that to start journeying through her eyes; to design an experience that she can fall in love with.
3. Create Real Relationships
Relationships are very real and important to the female consumer. This is when oxytocin is released; through a connection. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, and it feels good for the female consumer to create relationships that lead to trust, relationship, and loyalty.Remember she holds purchasing influence for 3-4 generations in her household, most of who are your future customers. If you fail to establish a relationship with her, you will have access to no customers.
The Bottom Line
No matter what you do, be consistent. The female consumer wants to know she can rely on you and you are a trusted friend (or loved one☺). Build up your trust account with your female consumer through consistency in the experience you provide her. And if all else fails, remember what it was like to fall in love, you already know how you need to make her feel. Your goal is to help her fall in love with your brand. If she does, she’ll be a brand loyal for life and her friends and family follows.
Dec 05 2018
I recently read a great article As Sexy Cars Take The LA Spotlight, Women Take The American Wheel where the author Micheline Maynard spoke about the steady influence of the female consumer, not only on the purchase of vehicles (or the decision to purchase,) but also that women drivers now outnumber male drivers.
The auto industry has been aware for quite some time of the fact that close to 95% of auto dealers are men, yet women influence over 80% of the decision to purchase a vehicle when in a coupled relationship. The male-dominated industry has typically designed cars from their point of view, and on top of that, they have created the experience the female consumer receives in the dealership from the same viewpoint. This is a massive disconnect which highlights the enormous gaps in both the design of vehicles and the shopping experience the most influential consumer in the world receives.
Women are not only growing in dominance in the workforce, often out-earning their husbands, but they also dominate the road too! I’ll let the experts at Turecar.com give you the insights on the type of vehicles the female consumer is purchasing, and I will provide you with ideas on how to deliver an experience once she walks into your dealership.
To close the gap on the experience that is currently provided in dealerships and what women want, here are five tips to consider when serving the decision maker; the woman.
1. Greet Her
In an independent study I conducted I found that when a woman is shopping with a man, the man is greeted first 100% of the time. The greeting is the first interaction that will set the tone for the entire journey; it is a customer’s favourite pick up line. Try greeting her first (or at least at the same time). The female consumer will feel like an equal, respected, and open for the journey she is about to experience.
2. Use Her Name
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”- Dale Carnage. Using a customer’s name not only shows respect but is the most important words you can use to create a connection with your customer. A female customer gravitates even more to the use of her name. Over the decades, women have fought to be equal with their male counterpart, so using her name is a great way to help her feel welcome, respected, and important in your dealership.
3. Show Genuine Interest
We make decisions out of the ‘feelings we have’ not the facts and figures that are presented to us. Women crave connection and will walk out of your dealership if 1. No one attempts to make a connection and 2. If a person is disingenuous when trying to make a connection. She wants you to take time to get to know her; genuinely. The 80/20 rule applies here. Let her talk 80% of the time because you have spent 20% of the time with her asking questions and showing genuine interest in her.
4. Be Authentic
Being authentic appropriately follows showing real interest. The female consumer wants to create a relationship with the sales associate, and she expects the interaction to be authentic. You will have much more success winning the heart of your female consumer by being authentic, revealing vulnerabilities and of course showing genuine interest in her.
5. Follow Up
The last touchpoint on a customer’s journey is often viewed as the ‘goodbye’ or ‘lasting impression’ which leaves the touch point of ‘following up’ as a big opportunity! You would think in the automotive industry we would know the importance of following up to ‘close the sale.’ Funny enough it is overlooked a lot! The follow up is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the relationship you have created with your female consumers. This time allows you to continue to show genuine interest, be authentic, and increase the likelihood of getting her back into the dealership. Here is the catch. The follow up doesn’t have to be just about the vehicle she was looking at, or that is coming up for renewal. The follow up is way more successful if you couple it with a personal touch like remembering a birthday, anniversary, or big event. Show you care, and she will follow up with a visit to your dealership.
The end goal is always to sell a vehicle; we are in business after all. However, this is a result of how you treat your customers. Focus on ‘how’ you can close the gap between the current experience design by men, for men, and delivered by men, and the experience the most influential consumer expects. If you focus on how you and your team will live up to her expectations, then the results will follow.
Oct 31 2018
I usually focus my writing and conversation with my clients around solution driven language. What you should do to deliver an exceptional and unexpected experience for your customers. Instead, I thought I’d write about what you should STOP doing when interacting with the Decision Maker; The Woman.
If you want to impact at the CORE of your business truly, it’s people, and the experiences you provide, what you stop doing is equally if not more important than the ‘new people-centric programs’ you put into place.
Here are five things you and your team should stop doing when interacting with your female consumer.
- Greeting men first when in a ‘coupled’ shopping situation
In an independent study I conducted I found that when a woman is shopping with a man, the man most often gets greeted first. The greeting is the first interaction that will set the tone for the entire journey; it is a customer’s favourite pick up line. Try greeting her first (or at least at the same time). The female consumer will feel like an equal, respected, and open for the journey she is about to experience.
- Assuming she doesn’t know what you’re talking about
Women love details, and they want to know those details before making purchasing decisions. Women also find joy in the hunt of the shopping journey; the hunt is where she collects the details she needs to make a decision. So when she steps into your store, on the phone with you, or ready to make a purchase don’t treat her like she doesn’t know what you’re talking about, it’s more likely she knows more than you know.
- Thinking of the female consumer as an interruption
She is the most influential consumer in the world. She makes purchase decisions for 3-4 generations in her household. She is the ultimate customer, and it is essential that you know that. She is not an interruption.
- Thinking that building relationships is a waste of time
Creating a connection with your female consumer should be the number one priority. It is that connection and relationship that leads to trust. Trust leads to purchase and loyalty. Remove lack of time as an excuse, and make the relationship you have with your female customer a priority.
- Thinking she’s just like you!
Women are physiologically different than men. We are simply built different, and you’re in the customer perception business. No longer can you live by the golden rule grandma used to preach “treat others the way you want to be treated”. It’s high time you live by the platinum rule” treat others the way they need or want to be treated”. Take the time to understand the female consumer; this will go a long way in tailoring the experience you offer her!
Women are the world’s most influential consumer; instead of ignoring her influence, appreciate her significance to your business. Take the time to create real relationships, and stop making the common mistakes listed above. Your customers will be happy and so will your top line sales.
Oct 11 2018
In this series of “The Decision Maker; A Woman’s Perspective on Customer Experience”, I will outline my experiences as a customer (a female customer) as I experience them!
This first post takes place in Miami at an upscale hotel; when NO was the only option.
I landed in Miami for a series of business meetings over a three-day period. I had specifically chosen to stay a Conrad Property as I had such a great experience at their locations around the world. My expectations were high, and I was very excited to be staying there.
Consistency is one of the most critical aspects of providing an exceptional experience for customers. Consistency is essential in building relationships and earning the trust that comes with customer growth. Unfortunately, consistency didn’t reveal itself on my stay, and the confidence I once had with The Conrad has been broken.
I arrived at 12 pm; before check-in time, which was 3 pm. I understand that if a hotel is busy that a guest can’t always be accommodated and placed into a room before the guaranteed check-in time. So, I asked when the earliest they thought I could get into a room as I needed to shower and change before a business meeting I had at 4 pm and needed to leave the hotel at 3 pm to get to the meeting on time. They said there was nothing they could do and would let me know.
I don’t know about you, as a female in business (or anyone in business for that matter) having the ability to shower before a meeting is essential, especially if you fly in that day. Again, I understand the logistics of having guests check out, having the room clean, and then giving the rooms to the next fleet of guests. What I didn’t understand is why the team members at other Conrad properties are empowered to make it right for the customer and the lack of consistency in this empowerment throughout their other properties? How are they not consistently empowered to do what it takes to accommodate a guest; like ensuring they can use a shower before a meeting.
‘No’ Was The Only Option
After the first ‘no there’s nothing we can do for you’ response I walked away to grab some lunch. I was hopeful that my room would open up before 3 pm. Unfortunately, lunch had come and gone, and I still didn’t hear any news about the status of my room. I went back to the front desk and asked again what the status of my room was. They let me know that the room was still not ready and there was nothing they could do. I then asked if they had a room or shower available that I could use. No was the answer. I then asked if I could use the spa’s shower; again, no was the answer. They did at this point offer the gym (which was located in another building and had no place to put my luggage). I would have to walk across to the other building with my luggage to use the shower when the spa was on the same level and the reception. I asked again, “are you sure I can’t use that shower? I need to get ready, and I don’t want to lug my luggage”. Guess that the answer was? NO.
The Female Impact
At that point, I started to get very frustrated. As a customer, this type of experience is the type of experience that makes you wish you could find another place to stay.
As a Customer Experience expert, I know that the team is following the ‘policy’, so it’s hard for me to get upset at them. I also know there is a heck of a lot more wiggle room to make it right! As I have mentioned, I had stayed at other Conrad properties before and chose this one because of the previous experiences. As a woman, there was no compassion, concern or effort to help me from the team and that is enough for The Decision Maker to choose a different hotel for future business or personal trips. Did you know that the woman influences over 85% of all purchases made in the home? That includes the decisions on travel for her and her family! We are always scoping out great places to bring our family, even when we are on business trips. Creating an experience that makes her happy has a significant effect on earning the right to customer growth, loyalty and maintain the lifetime value of your customers.
I am here to inspire positive actionable change in the experiences the most influential consumer in the world has, and this is why I have decided to write these blog posts with a female perspective. I want to help organizations become better at the experience they provide their female customers (and customer’s in general).
With that, here are three ways organizations can change the experience for the better; to satisfy the Decision Maker and consumers alike:
Remove Rule (the word no) and Replace with Guidelines
Empower your team members to WOW the customer. In a large organization with multiple locations, this can be hard to control which is why a lot of organizations put rules into place. These rules, unfortunately, hurt the experience more often than not and these rules are often put into place because one or two customers abused the organization’s generosity.
By the year 2020 (which is pretty much today!) research shows that experience will beat out price and quality. If you want to keep your customers satisfied the only rule you should have in place is to do what’s right for the customer. This brings me to the next suggestion I have; make exceptions based on each scenario presented.
It is imperative you listen to your guest’s story; remember rules are meant to be broken! Train your team to live in the grey so they can ensure they deliver on an exceptional guest experience! For example, in my case, the team member could’ve given me access to the spa shower instead of making me walk across to the other building (with my suitcase) to use the shower in the gym. The spa was on the same level as the lobby and in the same building as the rest of the rooms. You need to Empower team members to handle service failure and make the exceptions to the ‘rules’ to make it right for the customer standing in front of them.
Train for Consistency
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post consistency is the key to an exceptional experience for customers. Consistency is vital in building relationships and earning the trust that comes with customer growth. Consistency is what separates the Disney, Starbucks and Ritz Carleton’s of the world from the rest.
When I work with clients, I like to introduce a tool called ‘decision trees’. This simple tool helps to address the above two points and creates consistency in the experience you provide. By creating decision trees, you can empower your team members to make it right and give them all the options they need to WOW the customer. On top of it, they will feel like hero’s and your customers are happy to have done business with you.
What Does A Customer Remember?
I must have heard the word ‘NO’ at least a dozen times in the few short hours as I tried to check in and get showered for a meeting. A customer will remember two touchpoints above all else; the first impression and the last impression. My first impression was less then Steller, and unfortunately, they didn’t make up for it during my stay or at the end of my visit.
Here’s another tip about the female consumer (who remembers EVERYTHING!); they are the original social media; they will tell their stories to anyone who will listen. I must have told this story more than 20x before I left Miami and now I am sharing it with the social world.
It takes 12 positive interactions to make up for one. The Conrad broke my trust this visit, and I will be hesitant to stay there again.
Join me as I share my experiences as a customer (with a female perspective) as I experience them!
Oct 03 2018
The Chief Purchasing Officer
Gender defines the way a message is perceived, from sales and service interactions to marketing, and call center scripting. All of these messages, moments, and service interactions sum up how your customers perceive your overall Brand Experience.
A Tailored Experience For The Decision Maker
So why would you want to take the time to create ways to tailor your Consumer Brand Experience to the female consumer? Women are the Chief Purchasing Officer in their household and the most influential consumer in the world. Women are the economy of the United States — according to inclusionary leadership group women spend or influence 83% of all non-business to business consumer purchases. Not only do they hold the veto vote on the majority of purchasing decisions, they are your number one referral source!
The reality is, most businesses don’t take this customer segment very seriously, and do not have the tools to give their team members to tailor the experience a woman receives when doing business with them. Furthermore, according to author Bridget Brennen, men make up 85% of the executives of the world! This gap between who buys and who designs the Customer Experience is enormous. The Brand Experience is ultimately created by men who are physiologically different from the female who influences almost 30 trillion dollars in consumer spending.
Women crave connection more than their counterpart gender—men. Moreover, if gender defines the way a message is perceived, then we need to get better at connecting with The Chief Purchasing Officer as she holds the most significant influence in all purchases and influencing almost 30 trillion dollars in spending power.
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Oct 03 2018
In a recent article I read in Automotive News Lincoln; Home Visits Revealed Customer’s Passions, Lincoln revealed the importance of getting to know their customers at a very intimate level. Lincoln has seen an impressive four consecutive years of global sales gains, what do they attribute this growth to? Getting to know their customers!
To understand your customers, you have to know what they think and what they want!
The Golden Rule grandma use to preach; treat others the way you want to be treated is a thing of the past! The new rule in town is the Platinum Rule; treat others the way they want or need to be addressed. The only way to live this is to get to know your customers at a personal level.
To do just that, Lincoln got intimate with their would-be consumers by doing interviews in their homes. The Mission, as stated by Parker, was to “Find out whether they drink 2% milk or almond milk. Potato chips, or Kale chips. Do they have an Alexa or a Google Home? How are they living?”
These home tours gave Lincoln a unique perspective on the wants and needs of their customers, allowing them to craft tailored experiences in marketing and retail stores.
Now, I’m not suggesting that every brand start knocking on their customer’s doors and have a tour of their home, although you would learn a lot about your customers if you could! What I am suggesting is that you bring this mentality into your dealership. Get to know your customer, personally, when they are interacting with you.
Building Real Relationships
We must build real relationships with our customers before we ask for the sale. Customers buy from who they trust. Unfortunately, customers don’t usually ‘trust’ dealerships to have their best interest at heart. I have developed a formula that helps dealerships do just that, create real relationships with their customers.
The Connection Formula- CREATE was developed with the female customer in mind. After a lot of research of what The Decision Maker; The Woman wants in her shopping experience, I realized this formula is as effective with women as it is with men. Here is a simple tool your sales team can use when connecting with your customers and getting to know them at a personal level while earning their trust and their sale.
Compassion & Empathy
Showing compassion & empathy is the most overlooked, yet most powerful skill a salesperson can have in their tool belt. Having and showing compassion for their customers and their stories will help you to take a step back and listen to what they need or want at that moment.
You are human too, right? When you can, connect with your customers over common ground. Reveal something about yourself that makes you believable and trustworthy. For example; your customer gets to talking to you about their son who is playing in a soccer tournament and how much time it takes to get him back and forth from practice. You happen to have a son that also plays soccer (or any other sport) can reveal that you to have the same frustrations. By doing this, you have created a connection outside of purchasing a vehicle.
Nothing is worse than a ‘fake’ interaction with a Sales Associate. Customers know who you are and will not engage with you. Find something out about your customer, so you can genuinely engage with them.
What is our favourite thing to talk about? Ourselves! Customers will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know to tailor his/her experience if you actively listen for it! Recent studies show that when we are having a conversation with someone else, we are already formulating our response 1/3 of the way through what the other person is saying. What does this mean? We don’t actually hear what people have to say to us; and if we don’t hear it, how can we use the information our customers are giving us to make an above average experience come to life?
If you actively listen, all those details that Lincoln found while doing home interviews will come to the surface in your interactions with your customers. Make the conversation less about you, and more about what personal details you can uncover about your customers.
Relationships take time to develop. I know, time is money. If you take the time to get to know your customer, create a real relationship, build trust, and provide a tailored experience, you will spend less time on getting them to sign on the dotted line! Put the time up front in building a real relationship, and it will be paid back in spades. Not only will they buy from you, but they will also refer you!
A relationship is ever evolving, as a customer’s life is a constant evolution, and you must continue to work on and develop the relationships with your customers. People go through life changes, and if you want a customer for life, you will need to continually evolve the relationship you have with them so you can keep a pulse on their ever-changing wants and needs.
The Change is not Easy, but Necessary
Breaking the stigma of automotive retail is the key to its future success. Customers want and need to feel understood by the Sales Associate, they need to trust their dealership, and the experience they receive must compete with the Starbucks of the world. It will be an uphill battle to break this current stigma. However, it can be done.
Robert Parker explains the challenge with this new way of thinking “it’s like teaching a pitcher to throw left-handed after they have thrown right-handed their whole life.” He continued to say “Dealerships are used to a certain way.” This new thought process “was about getting the customers settled and comfortable. It has to be a courtship.”
Get to know your customers on a personal level. Create a real relationship with them, and use the beautiful details you uncover to tailor the experience you provide them in your dealership.
Sep 13 2018
Raise your hands or nod your head if you have ever gone into a brick and mortar store with your kids and they decided to run around, talk loudly (or yell), and climb things they shouldn’t (insert emoji with hand raised here). It can be (and often is) frustrating and embarrassing. This was precisely what happened to me as we entered Home Sense last Monday.
It was a hot and humid Monday evening. The last week of summer break and the week before my sister’s wedding. Our house is the house that plays host to almost every family gathering and the night before my sister’s wedding was not an exception. As usual, I took on more than I could chew but loved every minute of it as there is nothing more important than the love and time spent with family.
Because we were hosting 40 people at our house, it was also time to get my butt into gear and finish decorating our newly renovated main floor. The Monday before the party I dragged my poor little girls all over the city to find just the right nick knacks for our living room and paintings for our walls. Women tend to do this frequently; take on more than they need to, to ensure the happiness of their family. That day I was not an exception to the rule.
We were in and out of stores, and our last stop was Home Sense. As a woman, mom, wife, and Brand Experience Expert, with a female focus, I am very perceptive to the shopping experiences I have and how well they cater to the Decision Maker; the woman and all the little nuances she expects in a shopping experience. My last experience that day was the most trying and the best all at the same time.
An Empowered Team
My girls had had enough of in and out of stores and were kicking into boredom high gear. As soon as we entered the store, my girls bolted off and ran around as I popped in and out of the aisles in search for the perfect décor and paintings; playing a game of Marco Polo with my girls except is was “Ela, Riley” so I could hear that they were close to me. The experience was going smoothly until I heard Riley scream.
There she lay face down on the floor; she had tripped. I put the five items that were in my arms down and rushed to her. Riley’s lip was bleeding, and she was crying hysterically. I felt embarrassed and so sorry that this happened to my sweet girl. Instantly (as most moms do) I started to beat myself up about the situation, and at that moment, something wonderfully unexpected happened; in swooped the Home Sense team.
The manager came over and helped me in the bathroom. They helped calm Riley and gave her a freeze to keep the swelling down on her lip while making it fun for her. They also made sure Ela got the same ‘fun’ treatment. Once Riley was calm, they collected the items I had put down in a rush to my daughter and took me directly to the end register bypassing the big line. The team rang me in quickly and carried everything out to my car and through the whole process made me feel better (or not as bad) about the situation.
This situation got me to thinking; are companies prepared to handle situations that are not their fault? Do they empower their team members to make it right? And do they take into consideration the customer in front of them?
Although many organizations strive to have the basics of customer service down pat; like greeting, asking the customer if they need help, or using their name; not many organizations focus on how to create a great experience out of a bad situation. Further to that; do you know how to tailor your Brand Experience to the Decision Maker; the Woman?
I challenge you to answer these questions:
- Is your organization and its team prepared to handle situations that are not your fault? If so what tools do you provide them to empower them to offer an exceptional and unexpected experience out of a bad situation?
- Are you prepared to serve your female consumers? Have you ever flipped the lens and seen the shopping journey through her eyes?
- With women holding 80-90% influence of all purchasing decisions and doing the majority of the shopping for their homes, is your team trained in EQ so they can ensure the experience the decision maker has in your brick and mortar store leaves a positive lasting impression?
If your answer is no to one or more of these questions you might want to look at the tools and training you give your team members so they can turn transactions into interactions and create a memorable experience; even out of a bad situation. I also urge you to take a female-focused approach as you make changes to elevate your customer experience.
I thank the team at Home Sense that day. Not only did I get everything I needed, but they also earned my loyalty through an experience that I will be forever grateful. I know that I can take my kids there and they will take care of us.