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We’ve got a treat for you today! I’m excited to welcome Jonathan Schulman, president of ceXperencia, back on the podcast for part two of our conversation about the world of customer experience. If you haven’t listened to part one, go check out that episode first and come back for part two.
Throughout both episodes, a key theme emerged: the power of the basics. Jonathan drives home the importance of being brilliant at the fundamentals, going back to your roots, and, most importantly, connecting with your customers.
In a world that often moves too fast, we explore the idea that sometimes, to move ahead, you need to slow down. Jonathan also reveals the importance of collecting those reviews, what you’re doing with reviews, and how to streamline the process.
We’ve got it all, from retail fundamentals to the future of AI. Whether you’re a seasoned retail pro or just starting out, there’s something in this episode for everyone.
[0:00] Welcome back Jonathan Schulman
[01:31] What ways can physical stores use customer data to personalize in-store experiences?
[04:12] The budget-friendly CRM that Jonathan recommends for independent retailers
[08:39] How retailers can be more nurturing in the sales process?
[10:37] What are some ways retailers can anticipate and plan for their customers’ needs?
[20:31] What role Jonathan sees for in-store technology in enhancing the customer experience?
[32:02] Jonathan shares a success story when data significantly impacted a retailer’s customer experience and business growth.
Mentioned in the Episode
- Connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn
- Join the Rooted in Retail Facebook Group for After the Show
- EVOLVE 2024 in Denver, CO - Crystal Media
- Social Media Hooks & Hacks - Crystal Media
- Crystal Media Insiders
- Follow Crystal Media on Instagram
- Follow Crystal Vilkaitis on Instagram
- Crystal Media on YouTube
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Crystal Vilkaitis: Jonathan Shulman is back on the podcast for part two, where we are talking and continuing this conversation about customer experience. And I just love talking to Jonathan. It’s like I’m talking to my buddy, this conversation. I feel like you’re a fly on the wall of listening to two people who are really passionate about retail.
And customer experience and something that kind of was a theme really throughout both of these episodes with Jonathan is the importance of the basics. Be brilliant at the basics, go back to your roots, connect with your customers. We can forget that we can be moving too fast. Sometimes we really do need to slow down to move ahead.
And we just have more conversations about this in this episode and the importance of collecting those reviews, what you’re doing with reviews, how to collect the reviews in a streamlined way. Jonathan can totally help you out with that. And we talk about some data, and technology, and some big, whoa-blow-your-mind kind of stuff came out of this conversation.
At least for me, my mind felt a little blown on some things we were talking about from an AI perspective. So it’s got it all. It’s got the basics and it’s got like super out there. So you’re going to enjoy this episode. If you have not listened to part one, go listen to part one first, then come back to part two.
We’ll link to it here and let’s dive in.
Welcome to Rooted in Retail, the show that’s dedicated to helping independent retailers thrive in today’s ever evolving retail landscape. I’m your host, Crystal Vilkaitis, and I’m thrilled to have you join me weekly as we explore topics that are vital to the success of your store.
From marketing to mindset, money to merchandising, sales to leadership, we’ll cover it all. Each episode features interviews with industry experts and accomplished retailers who share their real life insights and actionable advice. Get ready for a great conversation on how to build your dream business with Rooted in Retail.
Jonathan, welcome back for part two.
Jonathan Schulman: Great to be here.
What ways can physical stores use customer data to personalize in-store experiences?
Crystal Vilkaitis: All right, let’s get to it. We’re talking about data in this episode. If you haven’t watched the first part of this, we’ve linked to it. Definitely listen to the first part. This part, we want to talk about data as it relates to the customer experience. So Jonathan, in what ways can physical stores utilize customer data to personalize in store experiences?
Jonathan Schulman: Well, God. Artificial intelligence forget about, right? That’s moving at the speed of sound. Anything that we talk about now, who knows if it’s going to be relevant in a week? I think for the most part, it all comes down to the fundamentals, and the things that we know to be true in delivering a better customer experience.
Which is what we talked about, prompts people to actually walk through your lease line and into your store to experience them. There’s a whole ton of things that you can do. The easiest one is something we already do is just Instagram, and keeping in touch with your customers and making them want to be part of your family.
And they’re going to want to be because you’re going to give them an experience. It’s better than what they’re going to get down the street. I always say that, people are coming in looking for something. Above and beyond the something is the experience that you’re going to offer and the feeling that you’re going to give them. Maya Angelou’s famous quote, I’m not even going to repeat it because everybody knows it, but you gotta make them feel like that you matter and every customer has to matter.
And if you do that, they’re going to want to engage with you and all the platforms where you’re at, and they’re going to want to be part of what it is that you’re offering. And if you move them enough to do that, social media is great. As far as the metrics go, heck, there’s a lot of data gathering platforms out there from Podium, and you can text back and forth. And you can maintain your trails of what it is that you’re talking about.
CRMs are out there. And there are expensive ones and people that you need to actually hire to run them. There’s super easy ones, also, that you can use yourself that. Just to keep track of your data, as far as your customer data goes. And what it is they like, and what they might be looking for next, and how you can serve them better in the future, and maybe use those as prompts to do, blog posts, or email, emails. Or heck, even physical cards and little packages. And little things that don’t take a whole heck of a lot of time, or money, or even creativity. Just a thank you note is so nice to get.
Especially when you handwrite something, even if they didn’t buy anything. Right. It’s like, “Hey, thanks for coming in. I really appreciate you coming into the store.” I’m going to take 64 cents or whatever a stamp is and invest that in you and spend three minutes just jotting it out.
I think nobody gets those. And is tech important? Yeah, but so are the basics also. And then there’s all the other things that you can use to analyze the experience that you’re offering and to really get granular with that, which is also really important.
The budget-friendly CRM that Jonathan recommends for independent retailers
Crystal Vilkaitis: From a CRM perspective, is there one that you would recommend? That’s not really expensive.
Jonathan Schulman: HubSpot’s pretty good. It’s not expensive at all. Y ou can get $30-40 packages that’ll basically do the basics that you need. Pipedrive is another one that I’ve seen and use a little bit and that’s a good one. But yeah, I think those two things are super simple to employ.
I don’t know if everybody really wants to get super crazy about diving into the data. Look, we’ve got stores to run, right? We’ve got merchandise to check in, we’ve got bills to pay, we’ve got marketing to plan, we’ve got social media posts to put out there, we’ve got stuff to do. So, let’s not make it too nuts, but let’s at least take advantage of the opportunities that we have to be better.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah, I totally agree. And I know I had a guest on, Dawn Grooters, who recommended HubSpot too. And she had some great applications for using that CRM. So, we’ll link to that episode if anybody missed it. But yeah, you gotta have that. And that’s an action item for listeners. What are you using to store customer information?
Because you do need to have something that is storing it. And if it is a CRM, sometimes our retailers are fully integrated with Shopify and so they have all their information there. And now you can be sending out emails. Klaviyo is a really great tool for that. We’re a partner of Klaviyo that can also help deploy your emails and hold that data and understand, what are people buying? And how are they shopping? That can really give you insight that I think it’s important that we’re paying attention to, but we’re not spending hours just going through all the data metrics like you mentioned.
Jonathan Schulman: Yeah, stirring the batter to make the cake time and time again is a lot tougher to do. There’s all sorts of automations that I’m starting to educate myself on as well. Where you can start planning these emails that go out and they trickle out. So you don’t have to keep on writing the same email over and over and over again.
All this stuff is super automatable, if that’s a word. You can set it and let it go. And it’s a great way. And I can see it now. It’s interesting. You jump into somebody’s web of, “Hey, I’m interested in this,” right? And somebody offers a free report on whatever and so you sign up for it.
Now they gotcha. Then you’re in their pipeline and the pipeline trickles information out. Some of it’s a little bit overkill. Some of it is really useful, right? So it sort of depends on who you want to be and what that looks like. And it seems to me that there’s the people that want to, it’s all about me and I’m me, as the vendor, and I’m going to push all this stuff out and just drill you with things.
Or you can be a little bit softer and only put out things that you really think are important. That you would really get. Because people buy from the people that they like and the people that they find a little bit of association with. And so if you’re the softer type of person, don’t be overly aggressive.
And if you are super passionate, and aggressive, and excitable, and in your face a little bit, and people dig that about you, then I think you got to be that, right? As long as you’re authentic.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Well, a couple of things. I can’t agree more. And just to kind of echo that. We teach, at Crystal Media, your nurture funnels and your sales funnels. And I think a lot of retailers miss the nurturing funnel. It’s a lot of sales. It’s a lot of the me, me, me, like you’re talking about. And we’re missing that opportunity to engage and ask questions and teach and do demo, like something that’s more meaningful. A classic example that I share is an email of an art framing company.
And they have this great email of just easy hacks to frame artwork, and I found it really interesting because I’m the one that hangs all the art around our house. I enjoy doing that, but it’s a whole like process for me. I’m the one, I think it’s actually a secret talent I have.
I’m very good at getting it like centered. Like the first shot, I’m really good. But it was an email where I’m like, “Oh, this is so helpful.” And it’s a nice reminder. It wasn’t about, “Hey, buy art, buy art,” it was just helpful tips for you.
How retailers can be more nurturing in the sales process?
Crystal Vilkaitis: So how can you be nurturing is a question I’d be asking for our listeners.
Jonathan Schulman: Well, it’s called value add, right? And business parlance. What other things could you be doing? Look, you’re passionate about what you do already, right? So it’s not that hard. And, one day you might have Crystal’s Frame Shop and putting out a little video and how to hang these things properly, and maybe a little tips on how to stagger them or how to place them.
There’s plenty of guys out there, me included, like I could hang them. I could hang pictures and none of it would be right. It would be too high, too low, too crooked, too this way, too that way. It would be wrong. And I know that. So why even try? I would go and search that stuff out. My favorite search engine now is TikTok, right?
Because they give it to you super fast. It’s very to the point and succinct, you don’t go through all the fluff. There’s no little ads. I was looking for a recipe for something last night. My wife wanted something for dinner. I’m like, “Oh, I’m kind of the chef in the family so I’ll cook that.”
And I Googled it and you get all these ads for nothing that you’re really interested, in between somebody describing what it is that they’re cooking until you finally get 10 scrolls up where you get the recipes of the things that you need to shop for.
With TikTok, it’s just fast and putting those things out. I think it’s a great way to not only show that you care, but also get your brand out there a little bit and do things differently. People like to be sold in different ways and to take that softer part of it is I think really important and just getting bigger.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I agree. And I think what I love about this too, retailers, I want you to think about the experience is the part one and part two, this is all about the experience. Sometimes we think about marketing and social media and it feels heavy. And it feels like I have to be a marketer instead. It’s how am I really connecting and what’s the experience that my customers are having with me, with my content that’s online as well as my in store.
So it’s changing that a little bit for them now.
Jonathan Schulman: Being there, right?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah, exactly. You gotta be there.
Jonathan Schulman: Yeah.
What are some ways retailers can anticipate and plan for their customers’ needs?
Crystal Vilkaitis: You got to be there. Okay, so what are some ways retailers can anticipate and plan for their customers’ needs?
Jonathan Schulman: That’s a great question. I’m so glad you asked because there was a webinar that I listened to this week and they had for high-end furniture stores. And the fact that they have lots of doors, they were pretty substantial, had substantial businesses and it was almost like a round table almost. It really wasn’t a moderator per se.
There were just a bunch of people that were just talking about stuff and keeping it going. And one of the questions was, how do we forecast future business? And okay, granted, it’s not what it used to be. We went through a crazy election year with 2016 and that had a huge effect on the economy and then we had Donald Trump, which changed things in a lot of different ways and there was a lot of division and then COVID showed up. And so trying to figure out on the logistics side, how that’s going to affect the demand for your product, nobody could have seen this coming, right?
Nobody could have seen a demand so high for a product that we couldn’t get because, here on the West Coast, you used to be able to get a container from Asia full of product for 1200 bucks, 1500 bucks. It went up to $26,000. And heck, if you live on the East Coast, where now you’ve got a land bridge. Things land in Los Angeles, and they have to get on a train or get on a truck and drive all the way across the country to get to market.
That’s absurd. But what was interesting was when they were talking about forecasting and how do we look at our business and how do we gauge it? Or how do we comp it for the same store sales from last year or the year before? Everyone scratched their heads and said, ” Hey, we just look at it quarter by quarter.”
But back to the data points. If you have an idea of what your business is going to look like, then you know what it is. And the only way I can find, in my head, to understand what your business is going to look like next month and next year, is to know what your customers think about you.
Because those are your people. Those are your people that the customers that like you will come back more often. They’ll spend more money. They’ll tell their friends, right? That’s it. Like we talked about in the 1st episode of why we spend so much money and time and effort trying to get new customers just to churn them out the back end makes no sense.
It all comes down to these fundamentals of basics, just treat people like people, make them feel like they’re valued authentically, right? Don’t put a mask on and pretend to be somebody you’re not. And if you’re not that person for your business and find somebody who is that person so that they can be the authentic person that people want to come and see.
And if you look at your Yelp and you see somebody had an issue and you take it personally. That’s gold. You decide to, hey, this person. Oh, I remember this person. They were a pain in the butt. They’re asking for too much. They wanted a discount. They were looking for a purple cow that doesn’t exist, right?
Well, it doesn’t make him a jerk. It makes him somebody with an expectation and they want to be heard. Even if it doesn’t exist and you might not have been in the mood to tell them that, “Hey, what you’re looking for, there’s no such thing.” Maybe you could, politely suggest other things.
Or at least put them on the path to get them to where they want to go. Because the name of the game is getting a customer. It’s not conducting a transaction. And so even if I can’t help you, and I know who can, I’m going to say, “Hey, look, you know what? I saw on a website that something similar to what you’re looking for.”
Or, “Guess what? The guy around the corner sells these flowers that you’re looking for.” Or, “I saw these pillows over in this other guy’s shop, he’s got a really cool antique shop.” And I think they might be able to help you out, but still capture that person. Still figure out a way to get that person in your pipeline, right?
Because then you can still send them a little card. “Hey, thanks for coming.” “Hey, I hope you got what it was that you’re looking for,” right? Keep us in mind for whatever is next. There’s always something next, right? There’s always something next and you can be there for that next.
Crystal Vilkaitis: And then what’s great is you make a note on that and your internal note is they were really trying to find vintage furniture or a flower shop. So in my followup with them, I could be like, “Hey, did you ever find that? I was also thinking about this company, so you should check them out too.”
Like it’s just being helpful in its relationships. And I love, I think it’s refreshing what you said about just what your customers think of you versus getting really caught up in the economy, and the news, and the media, and the doom and gloom. I think it’s very easy to get caught up, there’s a lot going on in our world right now.
So much. And I was just saying to a colleague of mine, I try to live in my little happy bubble over here, and maybe that’s naive of me, but I’m just very conscious of what I’m taking in and what I’m putting out. And I think about my business and how can I serve? Not what’s happening in the economy.
And maybe some people would think that’s a bad way to think, but it’s like, I’m really focused on how we can serve. And I think if our retailers are looking at that, what do our customers think of us and how are we showing up and how are we feeling when we read these reviews? And that’s what matters.
That’s going to help you predict a little bit better than any of the headlines.
Jonathan Schulman: Totally. And you can be the bright spot in somebody’s day, right?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yes.
Jonathan Schulman: one of those things that’s free, right? Being kind and being nice and being helpful and being somewhat accountable, at least to yourself to go, Hey, look, I know I’ve got a gazillion things going on and maybe I am a news junkie. And I listened to too much of all those horrible things that are happening in the world right now, but I don’t think it’s naive.
I think, you’ve got to take care of your own kind of being and your business is part of that and the days that you have, and the things that you do, and the successes that you have during the day.
And the failures that you have that you can go back and learn from shouldn’t be ruining your day. They should be making little water drops in a bucket that you’re going to have full one day. And that’s to me, that’s what it’s all about. And that’s what’s cool about retail is that you have this opportunity to be better.
And especially now where you do have an opportunity to see what people really think of you. Through Trustpilot or Google reviews or Yelp or whatever else is out there. And I think the negatives are the best thing. I wanted to talk a little bit about the other kinds of software systems that are out there and what you can do to run your business to not break the bank, but also understand the sentiment of your customer and how important it is to look at opportunities where you can close the loop.
And say, okay, even if somebody says you did a great job and gives you a but, that but is what you want, so that you can go back and fix that. So that there is no but.
There’s always going to be, right? No one’s perfect, but at least you understand, you asked me the last episode, what my favorite book was.
And it was Eliyahu Goldratt and The Goal, which talks about the theory of constraints. You’ve got to find the biggest problem that you have in your business or in life. I mean, just as a person, and work on that.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Right.
Jonathan Schulman: So that you can stop the plug and you can let the water sort of go through the drain.
If you don’t, then you just operate, that’s being in a bubble. Saying, “Oh, we’ve never done this before, this is not the way we do things,” or all those little buzz terms that just make your stomach turn and go, “Well, why don’t we,” right? Who are we serving? What are we doing here? Right?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Right. Yeah. The one that gets me is, “But that’s how we’ve always done it.” And I say this to my team all the time, just because we’ve done it that way, doesn’t mean we should be like, are there other ways we need to evolve? This is why I have a conference called Evolve. I mean, I just really believe in that.
I want to go back real quick, because you mentioned in the previous question, Podium, and we have retailers that use Podium and love it. So I do want to say that, anybody listening, it’s a great platform that you could be checking out. And I know some of our retailers, what they love the most about it is it helps you get those reviews after those purchases, makes it kind of easier for the customer to review you and share that experience.
And so to your point, reading those bad ones and really analyzing what can we do differently and showing up? And then I think it’s important that we’re always trying to collect those reviews that show social proof, but we learn from it, like you’re saying.
Jonathan Schulman: And you take action from it, right?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Take action.
Jonathan Schulman: We’re crusty individuals anyways, being in retail, right? I mean, we’ve got thick skin. We’re used to dealing with all sorts of situations coming at us, a lot of times, all at once, right? So having one more is when you throw mud at mud, you get more mud.
And it’s just another thing. But it’s a big thing because if the goal really is to build customers that do love you, that do want to come back, that do want to bring their friends. Then that’s a massive constraint when you get somebody that, that maybe you fell short on, or at least they feel like you felt short, you can’t argue somebody’s feelings.
So even if you think you did a great job, they don’t. On this particular occasion, your opinion really doesn’t matter, right? It’s their opinion. And so, if you want to get that person on your side, then this is the time to do it, right? Listen to them. I know Apple is huge. If they get a bad review, the manager of the Apple store is supposed to call that customer within 30 minutes.
But to fix it. And so there’s technology that exists out there that’s obtainable. But you have to have the idea, at least in mind. You’ve got to have the gestalt of the customer comes first, right? And Apple is one of those companies that always looks at the customer and says, let’s do the customer first and figure out what it is that we can offer them, right?
And how can we be creative and how can we serve them better? And how can we make their lives better? How can we enrich their lives? And gosh, that seems like something any store can do.
What role Jonathan sees for in-store technology in enhancing the customer experience?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Absolutely, I love it. So good. Okay, what role do you see for in-store technology in enhancing the customer experience? Now I know you did say AI, but what do you see in store, tech? I mean, I know we could talk about so many things here, but just a couple things. What would you talk about?
Jonathan Schulman: Gosh, somebody mentioned something in a podcast I was listening to about Minority Report. And if you remember that old Tom Cruise movie where, he’s in the future and he walks into a mall and the mall can recognize your retina or your facial recognition and start throwing images at you of what it is that you’re looking for.
If your phone can do it, and put things in your feed that you were talking about, this is next, right? I don’t know. Part of this, part of the thrill of the hunt is seeing things that some computer didn’t suggest for you, but things that you find on your own.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah, true.
Jonathan Schulman: I think it’s scary. You go through Medium or Reddit or LinkedIn and people writing posts and using AI to kind of construct a story, or an essay, or at least a three minute read about something that just smacks of artificialness.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Mm.
Jonathan Schulman: And I think that crushes the authenticity. I don’t want to be an old geezer, right? Or old school. I think you need to look. The Rangers won the world series based on a lot of artificial intelligence use.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Tell me more.
Jonathan Schulman: So they analyze body swings and they analyze how you’re opening up or if a pitcher has a little bit of a kink in his elbow as he’s throwing, and using artificial intelligence to look back, and just taking all the data so that they can see, “Hey, this guy on a two and one pitch always gets this or the pitcher will always throw a curveball.”
Unless these situations are happening and this batter happens to bunt in the 4th inning when it’s 2 outs and there’s a man on 2nd. Right. So you could get all that stuff, all that information right at the snap of a finger. And it’s moneyball 2. 0 or 3. 0. I know.
So we start looking at what’s going to happen in everybody’s everyday life. I’m off to Asia next month. And in China, it’s a little bit of a different story over there. And you can step off the street when the light might have just turned red, then you’ll get a jaywalking ticket in the mail because they just see you everywhere you go.
Crystal Vilkaitis: That’s crazy.
Jonathan Schulman: It is scary where it could be.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Scary. You know where my head is going, as I think about the retailers. Wouldn’t you love to have the data of what is the high end shopper? The one that spends the most, like, how are they coming in? And can you have AI read all the videos of all the customers? And these are the ones that spent the least.
And these are the ones that spent the most. And what can you correlate? Where do they go? What, who talks to them? How long? I mean, I would love to have that kind of data, but then it’s creepy. We’re watching our customers.
Jonathan Schulman: Well, they are. I mean, when you think about it the last episode, you asked about, how can the smaller independent retailer compete with the bigger ones? And the bigger ones are going to be the ones, you’re going to walk into a Target or a Home Goods and they’re going to deploy all these. They’re going to weaponize this stuff, right?
Because it’s data-driven. It’s not person-driven. I mean, I think even my teenagers still like to have an experience that’s somewhat tailored to who they are. I think they’ll get a little bit more numb/used to all kinds of artificial interference. That’s going to be between them and whatever it is, wherever they decide to spend their money as they get older and their kids also.
But I think in the grassroots of things, it all goes back to the basics, which is why does somebody come into your store? The Amazon guy just dropped a box. I ‘m going to spatchcock the turkey for Thanksgiving, so I need something to cut.
So I ordered the thing, instead of going to William Sonoma and God knows what else I’m going to wind up. I’ll get like a $100 bar spoon and a $70 tumbler. I don’t know. That would add on to that. So I think those in-store experiences are super important and using artificial intelligence to get you there cheats a little bit.
I think if you can pull on the heartstrings and do the heart pull, you’re going to be, you’re going to have better customers, right? You’re going to have people in those stores that are going to serve those customers better. And you’re going to know who your customers are. And so even the ones that, like you mentioned, what are the high end ones?
What about stores that don’t concentrate on the super bougie, rich. I know we all want big transactions, but I was reminded of a big one yesterday. I was in the store as a customer in Los Angeles. And these guys serve a more modest community. And they’ve been around, they’re multi generational and they’ve been around for a heck of a long time.
And I was thinking, okay, what are these guys going to buy? And you start looking at their operation and they get it. Right? They offer this community and they do very well working in the more low end products and there’s definitely a home for that and offering a service to those people.
And they’re talking about layaways and payment plans and in-house financing, and all these things. Because that’s how it goes. I used to do some work for the pond industry and there’s a certain percentage of the population that don’t have a bank relationship. At all, right?
They’re off the grid. And so the pawn stores, for any of you pawn store people out there, it’s the retail side of it, but it’s a financial vehicle. And so people will take their old fender guitar that they’ve got or their watch that they got from their grandfather and they’ll pawn it over and over and over again.
Right. How do you AI that?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah.
Jonathan Schulman: Sure. There’s a way, but you know what I mean?
Crystal Vilkaitis: I know.
Jonathan Schulman: These things are still important and it’s really sexy to talk about the high end, the reality of it is not everybody is that way too.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Right. Well, I think that there’s an element for the retailer to think about, is there technology that I can have in my store that can streamline me? My team? That can create some efficiencies for my customers, maybe in finding products or learning products or the experience could be interactive. And so, I’m using some technology, so it’s fun and interactive.
Jonathan Schulman: Mm-Hmm.
Crystal Vilkaitis: And what is our human connection? And how are we showing up and caring? And being there and talking to them and getting their information and just learning about them. You’ve got to have that mindset that’s curious about it and is looking for those ways.
I love that you said artificial interruption, I think is what you said. Artificial interference. Yes. I like that a lot because it can help us. And it can also be like, no, that’s not what I’m trying to do.
That is the opposite of what I want to do. And we’re going to see more and more of that I think as it evolves.
Jonathan Schulman: It’s crazy. Going back to what we’re talking about, the people who said, ” We never did it like this.” Things are going to get done in ways that nothing’s ever been done before. Right? We’re moving so quickly through all this stuff. One of the things in Medallia, which is my passion project. And taking those big enterprise survey software systems and taking those metrics and making it affordable to every other retailer out there. Where you can close the loop, right?
So whenever you get a survey. You get off of a Southwest flight or a United flight, they send you a survey. “Hey, would you recommend us to your friends and family?” It’s amazing the data that they can churn through that, and they can understand what their customer sentiment is. And we can send it out to the people who really need to see it.
So it does two things. It measures your KPIs. Depending on what industry you’re in and what it is that you want to measure. In furniture, we want to talk about knowledgeable salespeople, cleanliness of store, friendliness. The same type of things that most retailers look for.
We want to make sure of that because our customer journey is fraught with stop gaps, right? We’ve got, “Here’s a commitment that we’ve made and you’re going to leave my store with a piece of paper and a promise that someday we’re going to deliver something to you.” That’s somewhat going to resemble what it is that you saw here on the floor.
And what’s that going to look like? And is it going to show up on time? And what’s the delivery experience going to look like? And what happens if you do have a problem? We talked about why I hope there really is one, because that’s where a really good salesperson and company can really step up.
But what if you fall short? The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right? So we really want to do a good job, but maybe we didn’t do a good job. And it’s important to understand the reality of it. And so if you can plug into a software, you said a lot of your listeners have Podium. Medallia is another one that is basically built for enterprise, but we can do it now for the independents and you can click.
Yeah. So that’s kind of my passion project. And we’re able to take those surveys, understand your scores, and close the loop on situations. And like I said, if it’s a 10 out of 10, usually on a 10 out of 10, you’d be great, right? Move on. But there’s always a but, right?
Something always could be better. And I need to get those “buts” so that I can measure those. And so I can make good on them, and get back with the customers so that we know that we’re listening and we thank you for taking the time to fill out, this brief little survey, helping us get better so that we can serve you.
And then you’ve got them also, right? Because they’re going to give you their information, the email and phone number, whatever else you might need that you want to know about them. So you’ll have them from 2 points, right? You’ll have them from your store and you’ll also have them from the surveys.
And making sure that closing the loop is so important. I had a bad Avis experience and I said, you know what, I’m going to, I’m going to fill out this survey. And I really let him know what happened, and I never heard back. So I was like, why are you asking? I know why. But to me, why are you asking me as a consumer, if you’re not going to at least.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Acknowledged.
Jonathan Schulman: Acknowledge, above beyond a, “Thank you for filling out this survey, we use this data, blah blah.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Right.
Jonathan Schulman: Right now, I want somebody to come back to me and go, “Hey, we really appreciate it. Thanks so much, sorry we let you down. Here’s what we’re going to do,” something to make it better. Make you feel like you’ve been heard, which is what we all want and really have you not go off to Hertz, or somewhere else, right?
Our competition where you’re going to rent next time, especially if you’re a frequent renter or user of the product. These things are super, super critical. And then you can start scaling these customers based on who is engaging with you a little bit more on each of these platforms.
And if it’s Yelp and Trustpilot and Google and Podium and Medallia or whatever else, the people that are engaged in those are the ones that you really need to put on your A plus list for everything.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah. So listeners, you really need to talk to Jonathan and we’ll link to, so you can learn more about his technology, but this is so important to have as a retailer. To really understand, to close the loop, like you were saying, to get more data and that’s great that you make it easier for the retailer to collect this information.
Jonathan Schulman: And way less expensive.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Ooh, we like that. Good.
Jonathan Schulman: Yep, there’s a lot of pluses to it. It’s a great system. I saw it, I couldn’t believe it actually existed. So to try and figure out a way to package it up and make it more turnkey. So it’s not an IT drain or it’s not a financial drain, and you get the information.
I’m a geek about this stufstuff. I juste it so much. So I really want to make this available to everybody.
Jonathan shares a success story when data significantly impacted a retailer’s customer experience and business growth?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Oh thank you for doing that, I love it. We will link to this and Jonathan, my final question for you today is, can you share a success story where data significantly impacted a retailer’s customer experience and business growth?
Jonathan Schulman: God, There’s the feedback that you get from your customers. If you’re smart enough to listen to, the one that comes to mind is Nordstrom Rack. They had long lines of checkouts, right? And so when they would survey, their customers would say either two things.
One, I can’t find any help. And the other thing is waiting in line to check out to buy clothes. I’ve already been here longer than I expected to find all these great deals and stuff. And now it’s going to be 20 minutes to just check out. No, thank you. So they did 2 things. They took all of their associates and they put lime green shirts on them, if you remember, so you could find them.
And then they also gave them iPhones with checkout capabilities. So there were like these little stations all over the store where, if you’re in the middle of the store and realizing, “Oh man, I gotta get out of here. Check me out, swipe my card.” They’ve got bags over there. Off you go, email you the receipt.
And people really loved it, right? And their sales went through the roof. The hardest part of the sales should not be giving me the money, right? That should be the easiest part.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I’ve been in lines like that before and I’m like, “I can’t, I have to leave.” And so you do. That’s a great example.
Jonathan Schulman: And you’re like but I need these shoes. So, I got to wait.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yep. And then ideally, I tell them that so then they know, so then they can implement a solution like what you are talking about. And that is a beautiful way to close this. That closes the loop of why this is so important and why we’re gathering this information from our customers so we can provide better experiences.
Jonathan, remind people where they can learn more about you.
Jonathan Schulman: LinkedIn at Jonathan Schulman. My company is ceXperentia, there’ll be a link. Go to the website at cexperentia.com and I look forward to working with you guys.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Awesome. Jonathan, thank you so much for sharing so much information about customer experience. This was a really fun conversation.
Jonathan Schulman: It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Awesome. Everybody remember, I’m rooting for your success. Have a great week ahead. Bye.