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The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 26, 2024 • Issue 24:02:02

The very point of sale: Lifetime customer value

By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LlC

Researchers have found that most consumers who become disappointed with a company's product or service will leave the offending brand and never return. I'm not sure I believed that until a recent experience made me feel differently about a store and an entire retail chain.

Shellie Vornhagen, customer experience officer at Emplifi, said 63 percent of U.S. and 62 percent of UK respondents, surveyed by the company in 2022, would leave a brand due to subpar service. "Consumers have too many options to stick around after a poor customer experience," she said in a statement. "If you're not delivering exceptional CX, your customers are going to turn to your competitors, no matter how loyal they were once upon a time."

Epic retail fail

While preparing a guest room in anticipation of a New Year's Day gathering, I discovered a security tag deeply embedded in the massive folds of a king size bedspread. Panicked, I called the store, laughingly describing my plight and asking to speak to a manager. "I'm a manager," replied a surly voice on the phone. "And if you don't have the receipt, there's nothing I can do for you."

Imagine beginning a conversation that way. I had purchased the item six or seven months ago and thrown away the receipt after seeing the correct charge on my credit card statement. But happily, I located the transaction in my annual spending report; thankfully, it was the only item on the receipt, with dollar amount plus tax matching the price tag.

I drove to the store, where I tripped an alarm upon entering, and presented the bagged item and printed receipt to an associate. "What do you expect me to do with this?" the woman asked. "Unless you can tell me the precise register where you checked out, there's nothing I can do. This piece of paper is absolutely worthless without that detail." I just stood there, waiting, when she suddenly grabbed the bedspread from my hands, aggressively removing the security tag and shouting for the store "manager" with whom I'd spoken earlier. I exited the store without waiting for more drama.

A few days after my guests had left, I related the story to a sympathetic customer service agent, who confirmed I had not spoken to a manager or an assistant manager at the store. The agent agreed to notify the real store manager about the employees I'd encountered, saying they did not reflect the brand. The takeaway for me is how I continue to avoid that store.

UGC in B2C

In the digital-first age, retailers can lose more than sales to disgruntled customers, whose online reviews and social media content can damage or enhance a brand. Kerry Bridge, director of global web and content marketing at Bazaarvoice, explored the impact of user-generated content in her Nov. 2, 2023, post, "Voice of the Customer: Reshaping the shopping experience."

"User-generated content (UGC) is the voice of the customer in physical form," she wrote. "This shopper-created content, in the form of customer reviews, Q&As, and social imagery and videos, is a reflection of a customer's authentic voice."

UGC is all about connecting with consumers, building an online community and creating a conversation between customers and a brand, Bridge noted, stating that direct-to-consumer brands are finding UGC ads more cost-effective and click-worthy than traditional content. UGC on a company's website, product pages and social media channels outperforms traditional content, because 84 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it features UGC and 77 percent are more likely to buy a product that they found through UGC, she added.

UGC in B2B

UGC is also reshaping the B2B customer experience, noted Austin Mac Nab, CEO and founder of VizyPay, who shared his perspectives in "Dinosaurs in the Age of COVID," my column published Dec. 28, 2020, in issue 20:12:02 of The Green Sheet.

"'I think the newer generation of the payments world is realizing that transparency with the backing of social media and payments industry trade media gives small and midsize business owners a voice," Mac Nab said. "Having a voice in The Green Sheet and other industry trade publications helps us amplify the voice of the small business owner.'

Mac Nab noted that he focuses on two voices in our industry: the voice of the small business owner and the voice of the agent and ISO that serves them. Dinosaurs in the payments industry are not adapting as fast as the smaller guys, who can pivot easily and smoothly; dinosaurs can't turn around their massive businesses as fast, he stated.

"We are okay with being in the public eye, being all over social media and talking openly to the media about the challenges, threats and opportunities that are facing the payments industry,' Mac Nab said, adding that he and his employees and partners are not afraid of having reviews on their websites."

Have you been self-served?

I recall some initial awkwardness with unattended airport solutions. Supermarket scanners and parking kiosks had been around for years but it took time for people to fall into the cadence of self-checkout at airports. I described my own experience, one early morning at Newark International Airport, where I ordered coffee at one kiosk and a pastry at another, in "How can we improve self-service?" The article appeared March 25, 2019, in Issue 19:03:02 of The Green Sheet.

"Each time I tried to check out, the kiosk displayed an error message," I wrote. "When I returned to the counter, the clerk discovered my ticket had a zero price-point. She corrected the error, enabling me to pay the $3 and complete my transaction.

In either of these scenarios, I could have walked away without paying for the coffee or Danish. And as I looked around, I observed several people doing exactly that. I could only imagine how much more breakage might occur during high-traffic times."

Looking back at the bedspread incident, I realize that humans, despite their flaws, had bent the rules to accommodate me. Would an AI, guided only by a rules engine, have done the same? end of article

Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and founder and CEO at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content strategist. Connect via email ,dale@dsldirectllc.com LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/dalelaszig/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/DSLdirec

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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