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Beware the Connected Consumer

A LESSON FROM WALMART

Beware the Connected Consumer
February 12, 2016 Anya Anderson

The terms ‘discrimination’ and ‘fat-shaming’ aren’t ones any retailer wants to be associated with. But retail juggernaut Walmart, has come under fire after one fashion blogger captured footage of one of their retail assistants urging the plus-size blogger not to “push it” when trying on clothing.

The ‘customer experience’ is now considered a commodity, with consumers prepared to pay more in order to be guaranteed a quality experience in-store. It used to be that on average, the customer would tell ten people about a bad experience with a retailer. But, what happens when the customer is a ‘connected’ consumer? Worse still, what if the connected consumer isn’t your average social media user, but an online personality?

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In this case, what’s exacerbated the situation, is the fact that this story includes actual footage making it all- the-more enticing for mainstream media.

So, while global organisations may not bat an eyelid at an audience of 90,000, this story has also been covered by the likes of:

A readership totalling well over 54 million. Suddenly, the audience becomes too large to ignore.

Now, the conversation has become heated between retailers and consumers. Was the retailer within her right to refuse to let a customer try on clothing? Should the customer have felt discriminated against? Either side of the argument is up for debate.

But, as every good retail professional knows,”The customer isn’t always right…but they are worth keeping.” And, in a time where any customer could be a connected customer, retailers need to be sure that any experience they’re having in store is an exceptional one.

 

So how do you ensure your team are well equipped to deal with all types of customers? One trans-activist in New Zealand has called for better training in New Zealand retail stores after one particularly unpleasant experience.

Training should form an integral part of any retail strategy, and customer service training should form a fundamental part of this. Training shouldn’t be a one-off experience. For any team to truly reap the benefits, there needs to be an ongoing commitment to training and self development.