The goods and services your customers purchase aren’t the only things they take away from your shop: they take away their perceptions of their experience, as well. How customers feel while shopping in your establishment is everything. It influences how they talk to others about your business and whether they’ll become repeat customers. By providing the best customer experience possible, you’re investing in word-of-mouth PR and the continued patronage of your satisfied clientele.

Customer Service is King

Your customers want to feel like they matter to you before they ever even walk into your store. Your staff should be helpful, pleasant and personable both on the phone and face-to-face. When you bend over backward to make your customers happy, they’ll appreciate it. You don’t have to go all out and offer personal shopping experiences (although perks are always a good way to drive new business your way). Providing the basics of customer service is a powerful thing that most customers won’t soon forget.

Appeal to All Five Senses

How your store looks is important, but that’s just one part of the total package. To really hook your customers, you should appeal to all five senses. Sensory marketing includes making it easy for customers to see and touch things in your shop, giving your store a certain scent while including some ear candy in the form of music. By using sensory branding, you’re giving your customers an unforgettable experience.

Make it Easy

Not all customers want to spend hours shopping, so appeal to those that want to make a quick getaway. Clear signage, site-to-store integration, engaged and helpful employees and expedited checkouts make it easy for customers to get in and out of your shop when they’re on a tight timetable. You certainly don’t want to push your customers out the door, but making it easy makes it clear that you value all of your customers, even those who would rather spend the day elsewhere.

Make it Entertaining

[sc name=”FreeDemoLink”]Some customers do want to spend time in your shop — and that’s great! Engage these types of customers by creating an entertaining experience. Providing in-store entertainment in the form of digital displays, interactive games or live or recorded music that appeal to and engage your customers are surefire ways to make your customers happy. Customers who have something to show for their time are more likely to report a satisfactory experience.

Don’t Keep Them Waiting

Even if your customers have all day to browse, nobody likes to be kept waiting. Implement queue management techniques and train your staff to work expediently. A simple acknowledgment of “I’ll be with you in a moment,” can mean the difference between a very disgruntled customer and one who waits patiently. Devise a queue management system for your brick-and-mortar location and implement an on-hold phone message to let your customers know that you value their time, too.

Make Their Time Worthwhile

Even using every queue management technique in the book – short of having extra staff appear at the snap of your fingers – wait times can and do happen. Whether your staff is busy fielding a long line during a sale or whether your phone lines are jammed with customer inquiries, it helps to make that wait time seem meaningful. Provide customers with something to do while they wait. Your on-hold message could include popular hits that appeal to your target market and run-throughs of the deals you offer, while in-store music and digital signage can help in-person customers deal with wait times.

Give Yourself the Customer’s Experience

Sometimes you can do everything right and still find that your customers are walking away unsatisfied. When that happens, it’s time to take off your management hat and pretend you’re a customer. Drive to the store, park where your customers park and walk through your store with the eye of a shopper. What stands out as helpful? What things do you find cumbersome or annoying? Doing this can help you figure out what areas need work. This experiment will give you some insight into how your customers are experiencing your business.

Encourage Feedback

Everyone loves to have their opinions heard. Whether you offer customers the option to submit feedback online, in person or via phone or text message, you should listen to what they have to say. Encouraging feedback makes your customers feel like they matter and gives you access to valuable insight about how others see your shop. They’ll keep doing business with you because you value what they have to say and you can use their input to improve your store experience for all customers. It’s a win-win.

Stay Tech Savvy

The word of technology is ever-changing and business owners need to keep up with the times. By keeping abreast of new technology, you can integrate these advances into your brand and improve your customers’ experiences. Comparatively few people will see your coupon if it’s posted on Myspace instead of Facebook or Twitter, for example. Integrate mobile technology into your store in the form of digital signs and content for tablets and smart phones and make sure you have a strong presence on social media. By being easy to find on the Internet and making it easy for customers to use their tech in your store, you’re elevating your customer experience to a whole new level.

Reward Loyalty

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Discounts, promos, coupons, swag – it’s all enough to whip your customers into a frenzy. Offer exclusive perks to loyal customers, power clients and customers that refer their friends. By giving customers an incentive to keep shopping with you, they’ll appreciate the experience even more.