Empathy In Retail

Empathy in retail and great customer experiences 12th February 2013

We were interested to read ‘Empathy is at the heart of retail’ by Ajaz Ahmed, the founder of Freeserve in Retail Week. Ahmed describes how, because of working in retail for most of his life, he has a real passion for walking around stores to observe and admire retailers practising their art. If you ask Tim Jeffrey, Retail Director at ‘i-am’ associates and specialist in retail design; he will describe a similar thing. While able to spot even the smallest detail out of line or working ineffectually, he also shares a real love and passion for the art (and detail) of retail.

Tim says ‘we use the customer journey process to break down and quantify the experience with a view to better understand and improve customer reaction. The customer is not consciously aware of what’s going on but the brain is hovering it up in minute detail through the five senses. Visually engaging and non threatening, audibly comforting, aromatically pleasing, the intake of messages is constant and ultimately leads to sale or no sale’.

Ahmed describes Pret a Manger’s ‘well thought out’ customer experience, and Hollister’s rule breaking effectiveness at targeting its audience, but ‘i-am’ associates also specialises in creating great customer experiences. While we are experts at recognising and appreciating the experiences provided by others, we also strive (and succeed) in creating them for our clients. The customer journey starts with being attracted and informed, and if successful, ends with the customer having real advocacy with the brand. ‘i-am’s impressive past catalog of clients who have had their customer experience revolutionised, ranges from Chilango the Mexican restaurant giant, to Domus, the UK’s leading tile, mosaic and stone products supplier, to the Tower of London and Dublin Airport.

Tim describes how at ‘i-am’ associates, ‘we preach three key customer facing actions that retailers should practice day in day out. Smile, it’s the most important form of barrier breaking welcomes. Seduce, don’t push, understand, don’t sell in terms of presentation and verbal information. Finally Sharpen, good retailers never stand still, the stage needs constant attention, If you watch the best market traders they are constantly smiling, chatting, polishing apples, you get the picture.’

The current economic climate is making high street retailing ever more difficult but Ahmed says ‘one of the biggest lessons that we learnt from the dot com boom was that physical stores are actually wonderful things. Even with the internet, people still love to shop and if you don’t make your store a great experience then your customers will go somewhere else’. This is a concept that ‘i-am’ not only understands but excels in delivering. Rather than becoming less important because of the recession, Ahmed’s article is testament to the fact that the customer experience that stores offer is fast becoming the difference between success and failure.

Want an amazing customer experience of your own? Need branding help or advice? Just want to know how ‘i-am’ can help you and your business? Get in touch!

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