The Silence Of The Customer Service Representative

0BlairPicThere’s an old saying in advertising about the power of repetition: Tell them you’re going to tell them something; tell them; and remind them that you told them. Perhaps it’s too old-fashioned for today’s fast paced world, but it’s a mantra that should be adopted by retail customer service. Recently, a lack of communication made a bad CX experience — a long wait for a product I had ordered — that much worse for me.

 A few CX basics that this experience highlighted for me:

  • If there’s a delay, let the customer know: Set up a triggered email that goes out when an item is X number of days past your promised delivery date;
  • Explain but don’t blame: Even if you’re relying on a third-party shipper or fulfillment house, meeting customer expectations is still the retailer’s responsibility. Let the customer know you are dealing with the problem (this is assuming that you are dealing with the problem);
  • If you say you’ll get back to me by next business day, then do that: Even if it’s just a no-news status update, follow through on what you’ve said you would do;
  • Spread good news when you have it: When the problem is finally fixed and the package is on its way, let the customer know.

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H&M Hoodie Debacle Made Worse By Brand’s Slow Response

00Glenn head shotH&M came under heavy scrutiny earlier this month for an advertisement image placed on its UK web site, showing a black child wearing a green sweatshirt with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” on the front. The misstep sparked outrage at the company for the perceived racist overtones, and there were even protests at some H&M stores in South Africa.

As if the post itself wasn’t bad enough, the retailer actually may have made it worse by not taking it down until after the deluge of complaints came in.

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Listen Up! 3 Retail Podcasts With Something To Say


One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2018 — albeit easy to accomplish — is to listen to more podcasts. Whether they’re simply just for fun or for editorial purposes, I resolve to listen more and hear what influential people in the world have to say about important topics. I watch more TV than I’d like to admit so it will be refreshing to shut my eyes and digest content in a new way.

I know podcasts aren’t necessarily a new thing. They’ve been around for quite some time, but they’ve skyrocketed as a content format in the past two years — thanks to Serial. The good news is people are listening! 2017 research from Edison revealed that 40% of Americans (age 12+) said they have listened to a podcast.

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Retail 2008 To 2018: A Decade Of Revolutionizing The ‘How’ Of Customer Engagement

0aaDebbie head shotI’ve been covering the retail industry for a long time. In one of my first jobs out of journalism school, I worked for a magazine called Giftware Business, then I moved on to Private Label Product News and — fast-forward to the age of digital-only — I eventually landed at Retail TouchPoints (RTP). Now heading into the 10th year of publication for RTP, I thought this would be a good opportunity for a bit of reflection.

So, I looked back at my digital folders containing articles from 2008 and, not really surprisingly, I found a lot of similarities between the topics we covered 10 years ago and the topics we’re focused on moving into 2018.

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Why I Love Self-Service (And Could Learn To Love Chatbots)

1blairIt’s ironic that I write about technology because in many ways I am the quintessential late adopter. Friends and family have long mocked me for my belated embrace of the latest gadgets, gizmos and services throughout the years. (Confession: I still listen to music on CDs.)

However, years of using ATMs, self-checkouts at supermarkets and self-service ticket machines at airports have won me over, or worn me down. Now chatbots are the latest wave in self-service, and they are gaining ground. A recent survey indicated that 55% of American consumers are becoming more accepting of chatbots in mobile and online customer service. The use of chatbots by the Mall of America seems like a strong indicator that they are going mainstream (though it’s nice to note that there are human concierges to serve as backup for the bots).

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Digital Signage, Mobile Integration Enhance The Tusk Store Experience

Glenn head shotOn Nov. 1, I had the opportunity to travel to the Tusk store in New York City to visit the ComQi Pop-Up NYC Digital Signage Experience.

The various technologies integrated throughout the store include beacons, large LED and LCD video walls and touchscreens, shelf edge displays, a visible light communication (VLC) device from LinkRay and RFID “tap and teach.” These are all technologies that companies often display on a trade show floor, but it was a breath of fresh air to see the hardware all working within a few square feet, and in conjunction with actual products — namely leather handbags and wallets.

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What Makes The Beauty Industry So Successful? One Word: Inclusivity

0aaklaudiaWith so many retailers struggling these days, I can’t help but notice that the beauty industry continues to thrive. The New York Times reported earlier this year that “prestige beauty sales in the United States rose 6% in the 12 months ending in February, tallying $15.9 billion, according to the market research company NPD Group. Makeup alone is up 11%, totaling $7.3 billion.” Sephora and Ulta are killing it, celebrities are launching beauty brands that sell out in under three hours, and beauty/influencer collaborations are becoming more common. It’s clearly a great time to be in the beauty industry.

I believe there are many factors contributing to the success of beauty companies, retailers and brands. For one, they invest heavily in content that connects with consumers. The beauty influencer community and content on social media are some of the best I’ve ever seen. In 2016, beauty-related content generated more than 55 billion views, according to Statista. Additionally, as of June 2016, there have been more than 5.3 million beauty videos published on YouTube. That’s just video, but you get the picture.

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Customer Service Really Is The Key To Customer Happiness

0aaJWMarriott Marquis DubaiLast week I had the opportunity to Chair the Retail Day at the GITEX Technology event in Dubai, UAE. It was a unique experience in many ways, but there was one takeaway that I could not get out of my mind during my stay at the JW Marriott Marquis — not just because it is the “tallest hotel in the world.”
The staff at the JW went above and beyond every moment of every day, in the most genuine way. They sincerely seemed to want to know what they could do to make my stay better, provide a better experience and help in whatever way possible. So much so that I concluded that I probably would not complain about a lot of issues I might complain about in a U.S. hotel, restaurant or store.

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Q&A: How ‘Corporate Culture’ Became A Bottom-Line Issue

0aaSteven Blue MillerIngenuityWhen it’s placed alongside more concrete assets like real estate, on-hand inventory and a healthy marketing budget, “corporate culture” can seem like a wimp. Certainly it’s nice to have a positive corporate culture, but what does it really add to the bottom line?

Let’s look at it another way: how harmful is a negative corporate culture? The answer is: a lot. And Steven Blue, President and CEO of Miller Ingenuity and a recognized expert in business transformation and innovation, says (in effect) that the fish stinks from the head — that it’s the CEO’s job to create a positive corporate culture, and it’s his or her fault if that culture becomes toxic.

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