Customers Expectations and Perceptions

An online price analysis has been done comparing the different commodity prices on the shelves of known supermarkets outlets. The total sum of the commodities so selected among the different supermarkets seems to tally with a few shillings’ differences. This could explain that the buyer/ consumer does not lose anything extra whether they buy from supermarket 1 or supermarket 2. The sampled outlets in this case are in areas serving Middle to High end customers.

Closer look on line by line, you will notice that some items are costly in one outlet and cheaper in the other. Others are cheaper in one outlet and a little bit expensive in the other. The cumulative totals however remain relatively the same. Essentially meaning that if 2 customers were to enter the 2 outlets each to a specific one and buy same kind of goods, then they would both leave the outlets equally poor in same measure.
Such 2 outlets will find themselves always fighting for a market share of the customers. In a bid to increase its numbers, an outlet must do anything possibly possible to attract and retain customers. If we were to go by the analogy stated above, then price might not be a major factor at play here. However, in the Middle to lower class neighborhoods outlets, Price is a major factor. In such neighborhoods even shopping is predetermined and budgeted before one leaves the house. Thus a 1-shilling price difference might make a shopper hoop to the next outlet or kiosk. The inconvenience of time taken moving from one outlet to the other to get the specific item at the specific known price is never a factor.

We all need high customer traffic and thus customer service is an integral part of business. It’s the part we must not neglect because when we ignore our customers, we risk the success of our business. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned business owner, it never hurts to remember the importance of your customers. After all, you wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for them.
Back to our scenario. So why would one go shopping in one outlet and not the other…answer lies in Customer service. I quote Phillip Green, Chairman, Arcadia Group who stated ‘People are always going to go shopping. A lot of our effort is just ‘how do we make the retail experience a great one? One of the most important differentiators between you and your competitors is the experience you provide. The easiest way to ensure customers enjoy themselves is by providing high levels of customer service

Yes, we are in an era of instant gratification; Cash pap, Pesa mkononi, loans pap, short or no ques in retail outlets but then again, we also want to have a reason of coming back if we ever will: do they have what I want as a customer; how am I treated at the aisles, are the prices well labeled, are the items well arranged, how are the floor tiles, are the floors clean, are the staff neat and approachable, how is the shop lighting, how are the lines/ aisles arranged, how is the background music; too loud, annoying, or silently soothing my heart as I shop…. I mean; what’s that, that will make me want to come back.

Amidst heavy competition among outlets – customers are becoming increasingly demanding and choosy about who to give their money to. In most successful companies; high emphasis is placed on customer experience. Customer service is how and what a customer perceives to have received in an outlet. It’s a perception. How do they think they’ve been served; do they feel the value for their money; do they feel appreciated?
Every contact we have with a customer influence whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. Make every interaction count, even the small ones. They are all relevant. As Sir Richard Branson quoted -The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways. This is what will determine the number of shoppers coming to your outlet and as such your Top and Bottom-line.

Take home for you as a retailer; Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers. Go an extra mile to meet their expectations… there are no traffic jams along the extra mile.

What’s your opinion?

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