- Those best at customer experience are those who survive
– Customer experience means everything. The outlets that are best at it are those that will survive, says store manager Maria Andersson at Akademibokhandeln.
Maria Andersson is the store manager at the Akademibokhandeln outlet in central Uppsala. She begins every working day checking the numbers on Maze, reading them on her computer to get maximum detail.
– I can quickly see how we’re doing. Good feedback seems to motivate everyone, she says.
Before they began using Maze, Akademibokhandeln depended on a Mystery Shopper.
– Usually the same person, 1-2 times a month. By the time the results were delivered they were history. And they weren’t easy to apply to see how we had done, says Andersson.
Akademibokhandeln has been using Maze for six months, and feedback is now from genuine customers. The staff were initially hesitant about the tool. But when they saw how it worked in practice, they were all smiles!
On average, the store gets 20 answers a week. The answers generally come from people who are either extra satisfied or have some issue. The feedback is fresh and the store manager gets right onto it.
– We look at the dates for the feedback that we want to analyse more closely. And we often find a cause - what was special about that day. When there’s a lot of input, we check what might explain it, says Andersson.
For example, it can be that temporary staff are working in the store, or that staff were extra busy with campaign material.
Ambassador and conversion rates
The goal is an ambassador level of 85%. Over recent months it has been steady at 83%.
The level correlates with other stores in the chain.
There are constantly three focus areas, with a new area nominated every month.
– Once, the ambassador level immediately jumped 17%. We follow the progress of the focus areas together. We’re developing our customer centricity, says the store manager.
Akademibokhandeln also measures conversion rates - the cash register figures in relation to the number of customers in the store.
– We have a high conversion rate, notes Andersson happily.
The customer is a guest to be looked after
The store manager emphasises the importance of taking care of every customer, even the youngest.
– A 10-year-old customer is to be treated well so he’ll return as an adult. The pandemic has taught us that it’s even more important now to take care of the customers who enter. The customers are our guests. We must communicate with all of them, she says.
It’s important that the customer feels seen and welcome. Store staff have to show they’re at the customer’s service and available.
– We must communicate that "we’re here for you" and make each customer feel he or she is special, says Andersson.
We’ve taken practical measures to improve the store front. The entry is always manned. This tells customers they’re welcome.
In the store on the main square in downtown Uppsala, there are areas for customers to sit. They can relax, play games or read.
Maria Andersson emphasises how important it is that store managers are good role models:
– It’s really important for us store managers to be on the floor and in direct contact with customers, and working on our focus areas.
Mixing in with the staff is a continuous process.
– If you work in a store, you have to like meeting people. We’re 15 staff in total and we’re all different, says the store manager.
Some of the staff are good at greeting customers, and others are embarrassed by pushing added sales. It goes deep.
– We have to be braver at selling, stresses Andersson.
The staff are also good with different types of books.
– Customers are different too. Our sales staff have strengths in different areas which we can use to give the customer the best possible service. We work as a team and help each other. It’s all about feeding off each other’s skills. This creates energy; together we’re strong, concludes Maria Andersson.
- Get customer contact right, and turnover and other key figures follow
Johan Junehed has been sales manager for Bokhandelsgruppen, which is part of Akademibokhandeln, for over ten years. He has experience from Cervera, where he was CEO for four years, and from Ica and Hakon. He has seen how important it is to have good communication with customers.
– Working with customer contact and the customer journey has become vital in recent years. It’s about doing the right thing through different channels and getting the whole thing to work. We’ve raised our sights and moved on from the old tools and systems that didn’t always capture customer satisfaction, he says.
Junehed cites Mystery Shopper as an example. The method provides insights, but according to him, they are no longer the right kind.
– Mystery Shopper did not deliver individual comments in every store from real customers that could be put to practical use, he explains.
A natural step forward
Implementing Maze was a natural progression for Akademibokhandeln, says Junehed.
The chain had come far in training sales staff but something was lacking - namely, a tool like Maze.
– If we do the right thing in customer contact and reach a good ambassador level, turnover and other key figures will follow, says Junehed.
The entire organisation - sales staff, store managers and upper management – is focused on customer contact and customer service.
Focus areas vary. At times, management wants all outlets to work on the same area. But individual stores also have their own focus areas where they need to improve. These are often decided on in dialogue with the regional manager.
The tool provides confirmation
The roll-out of Maze in Akademibokhandeln started at about the same time as the pandemic broke out but could be implemented despite lower staff levels in the following months.
– We’ve had valuable feedback from customers and it’s allowed us to put things right. It’s been confirmed that we’ve been able to keep a constantly high level throughout the pandemic, points out Junehed.
Among other things, it was confirmed that the book store chain had not cut back too far on staff levels. The quality of customer interaction has stayed at a good level.
– It’s been established that the measures we introduced were the right ones. Customer feedback tells us that, and that’s satisfying, says the sales manager.
Stores are compared
Akademibokhandeln can see the differences between stores now.
– Feedback direct from customers is best and most targeted. We hear things directly. Whether the curve rises or falls, it’s easier to relate it to what has happened in the store - for example, sales campaigns or refitting in the store, says the sales manager.
Management can also deliver the most relevant comments back to the stores.
The ambassador level is closely monitored
The goal for ambassador level at Akademibokhandeln is 85 across the chain. The base figure has been stable at over 80, at times higher.
A store manager’s bonus is partly dependent on the ambassador level.
The chain can clearly see which stores need to improve. Comparisons are most often made between outlets on a regional basis, but there’s also the possibility to compare stores in different regions.
– There’s an advantage in finding outlets where the store managers can be sounding boards for each other and share experiences. We want to do more benchmarking like this going forward, concludes Johan Junehed.