“Are you contagious?”
Retail strategist Anne Obarski often asks this question of the retailers she speaks to and consults for. And it’s not just OK to say “yes,” but essential.
According to Obarski, many retailers don’t offer their customers a “contagious” experience, which is one that they want to return to again and again — one they can’t resist telling their friends about.
Obarski led two walking tours of Portland on Wednesday (Aug. 26) at the Farwest Show in Portland, in which participants experienced and evaluated several Portland-are retailers. She also spoke on the topic of “contagious” retail on the first day of the show (Thursday, Aug. 27).
Throughout, she emphasized the importance of a strong, clear brand that people can recognize and remember. She also stressed the importance of every customer contact, regardless of how it comes about.
With today’s technology, there are many ways customer contact can take place. Depending on the business, it can be a smart phone app, social media, a customer service department, a web page, a physical store, a sales representative, a field service technician, direct mail, email or a service center. The social media can be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube. And all are important.
The keys are to employ listening skills, be engaged, be a problem solver, and be empowered. These are things that all employees need to be able to do, from the owner down to the lowest paid.
“We’ve become a society dominated by technology,” she said, “and we need to get back to being able to have a conversation.”
Obarski will give another Farwest seminar presentation on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. The topic will be, “Gen Y: How to Motivate, Manage and Sell to Them!”