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HomemifeatureRetail WOW! How to be Remarkable & Relevant to Customers

Retail WOW! How to be Remarkable & Relevant to Customers

There are many variables that can positively impact your practice sales and profit but we’re often unsure of where, or how to start. This article provides some practical tips to help you be remarkable and relevant to your customers and, in so doing, achieve a material upward shift.

In 1986 I was in the right place at the right time and had the good fortune to work with the world’s leading retail management, consulting and intelligence organisation called Management Horizons. I was introduced to a concept called IMPACT, an acronym that stood for:


Market coverage (number of stores),

Penetration (number of customers),

Average shopper frequency,

Closure rate (we know it as conversion rate), and average

Transaction size.

I’ve always lived by the expression that it’s not what you know or who you know, it’s who knows you and what they are saying about you

It just seemed so obvious to me. Basic financial modelling showed that sales and profit increased exponentially if a retailer positively impacted more than one variable.

At the same time, I was given exposure to a number of retailers throughout the US and Europe who were achieving growth year-on-year and winning customers from their competitors – names like The Limited, The Gap and numerous independents. I read a number of articles on the hotel chain The Ritz, which was consistently reported as being the gold standard for customer service. Their stories of legendary service experiences have become commonplace since Cesar Ritz opened Hotel Ritz in Paris in 1898.

Although small business rarely has the opportunity to increase the number of stores, everyone can move the dial on the other IMPACT variables. The question is always “How?”.

After working with a number of market leading retail and service organisations throughout my professional career, reflecting on my learnings referred to here, listening to world class speakers, and reading numerous books and articles on retailing and consumer behaviour, there is consistently one element that is common to all successful and sustainable businesses, specifically retailers. They are committed to being remarkable and relevant to customers. They also accept that they can’t be everything to everyone – customers don’t believe it, competitors won’t allow it and resources won’t permit it.

Putting the following five essentials into play will help you and your practice become remarkable and relevant to your customers. In doing so, you will make a material upward shift across the IMPACT variables.


People live and breathe the culture. A culture that has an unconditional commitment to being customer focused is the foundation or building block for achieving the WOW factor. That commitment can be captured in a vision or mission statement. Words on paper are a start and most importantly this commitment must then be expressed in documented values and behaviours. It’s then reinforced when recruiting new employees, during induction programs, expressed in systems, processes and common language, given line of sight/ visibility and reflected in daily rituals. Arguably, and most importantly, it is managed in a manner whereby employees hold each other to account and are recognised for displaying the right behaviours. It isn’t easy – leadership and commitment are critical.

Therefore, it seems obvious that you need to recruit and retain people with the right cultural fit and talent. In a retail optometry environment this translates to people who:

  • Consistently display a positive attitude.
  • Have a deep knowledge of the product range – research has shown that this is the most important factor for consumers in relation to an in-store shopping experience and that knowledgeable team members compensate for price.
  • Are interested in what’s important and of value to the customer. Optometry isn’t a one-size-fits-all. The right people have a great technique and always ask understanding questions – questions about the customer. These questions are expressed in terms of undertaking a diagnosis and likened to the approach an optometrist takes when asking a patient questions in terms of their presenting complaint.

Practical Tip: Frame Your Questions

Instead of: “What type of frame are you after today? Acetate, metal, nylon?”

Use: “What are the two things that are most important to you in buying a frame today? For instance, is it style, colour, comfort, shape or something else? I want to make sure we find the right frame for you”.


We’ve all heard the dangers of the four-wall syndrome. We come to work day in day out, almost on remote control, unaware and inattentive to our surroundings. Great retailers and service organisations always focus on the details. Not just for one day or one week – it’s details, details, details every hour, every day! Examples of what this would look like in an optometry practice include:

  • Does the window display meet the corethree objectives of promoting the image ofthe practice, highlighting the product and encouraging customers into the practice?
  • Are all staff well attired and wearingtheir name badges?
  • Are the frame displays appealing anddo they attract customers to touch andfeel the frames? The role of merchandise is to turn shoppers into buyers and the research tells us that almost all unplanned buying is a result of touching, hearing, smelling or tasting something in store. Most importantly, we want to experience merchandise before buying it.
  • Is the equipment clean and operational?

Practical Tip: Use a Checklist

Use a checklist to review these and other important operational aspects and have each item checked and signed off every day. This must be completed prior to the practice opening – after all, when the doors open it’s show time. Yes, it may seem unnecessarily administrative… but retailers who are remarkable and relevant are disciplined!

We live in an era of declining trust. Research tells us that 35% of consumers rank trust among their three top reasons to shop at a particular retailer and 87% of consumers would go elsewhere if given a reason not to trust a business. Being trusted is a competitive necessity. There are no short cuts with trust. It can be relatively short and it can change based on the customer’s most recent experience, so consistency is key.

Practical Tip: Be Transparent

If something goes wrong (eg. product performance), be accountable and take responsibility. Equally, be legitimate by making it easy for customers to make contact with you. Then, make
sure you respond in a timely manner and follow-up as agreed.

We often focus on delivering WOW experiences to customers (and yes, that’s a good thing) as a means of being remarkable and relevant and creating loyalty and advocacy. As such, it’s important to understand that the customer experience can be negatively impacted by any process or engagement that causes frustration eg. waiting for the optometrist, difficulty navigating your website, inability to make a booking online.

Practical Tip: Identify Your Pain Points

Review all the ways in which your customers interact with you, from your website to all the face-to-face interactions in your practice and subsequent follow-up. With your team members, identify any pain points and discuss ways in which you can change or even eliminate processes. Be sure to look through the lens of your customer and not through your own eyes… and be open to change.

Research tells us that consumers will pay between 12% and 16% more for a great experience. Not bad for simply being different. There is also a growing breed of consumers who reject price, deals and product features in favour of design, quality, authenticity and ethical behaviour. No one raves about average, the new order is the need to be remarkable. Furthermore, I’ve always lived by the expression that it’s not what you know or who you know, it’s who knows you and what they are saying about you. We all understand the power of social media and I love the expression coined by Amanda Stevens, “We’ve moved from word of mouth to word of mouse!”. Delivering magical moments will make you remarkable and relevant. Finally, you don’t necessarily need to look for new WOW moments every week or every month. Often the key is to do what you do consistently well – every hour, every day by every team member to every customer.

Practical Tip: Leverage Your Team

Experience tells me that many of the best thoughts are sitting under your nose. Set aside some quality time in a fun environment with your team to discuss different ways that you can WOW your customers. I’ve seen numerous examples and many of them don’t involve any expenditure, eg. hand writing a thank you note to a customer, making a call to a patient to check on their satisfaction with new contact lenses. Go the extra mile – it’s never crowded over there!

To finish off, I love this quote from Walt Disney: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends”. It has served Disney well for almost 100 years.

Rob Ellis is an independent speaker and coach. He provides full day workshops on the subjects of Retail WOW (discussed here) as well as leadership, people, culture and B2B customer management. Visit: robellis.com.au.


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