Valentine’s is an important holiday for jewelers. Unfortunately, the holiday brings lots of customers into jewelry stores that are operating at peak performance. Stores are attempting to help many more customers with their jewelry shopping and purchases during this holiday than they normally accustomed to serve. There will be times when there are too many customers in some jewelry stores to receive the store’s most outstanding customer service. There are only so many hours in a day and so many store personnel to serve each awaiting shopper. How can management help store personnel provide the most impressive shopping experiences even though the store is very busy with many customers waiting to be served? Consider how shoppers and returning customers arrive at their opinions about a jewelry company through their exposure to moments of truth.
Jan Carlson, president and CEO of Scandinavian Airline Systems (SAS), is credited with popularizing the management concept “moments of truth.” It refers to any episode in which a customer or shopper comes into contact with a company and gains a perception. For example, moments of truth include the points at which a shopper enters a store, engages with a sales associate, requests service, or makes contact with any employee of the jewelry company.
Carlson said, “Nothing is more fragile than the fleeting contact between a customer in the marketplace and an employee on the front lines. When you establish contact, that’s when you establish Scandinavian Airline Systems.” Consider the 10,000,000 passengers SAS carried and how each individual passenger experienced an average of five encounters with SAS employees. The results equal 50,000,000 “moments of truth” that may or may not meet or exceed a passenger’s expectations for quality and service. Airlines are selling retail services and there is an application here for retail jewelers.
The moments of truth that occur in a jewelry store are no less important to the jeweler’s image and ability to create loyal customers. Consider critical moments of truth in a jewelry store during peak holiday sales times. Customer perceptions of the jewelry company can be generated before they even enter the store. What about the store exterior, parking lot, and window displays? Do they make a statement that supports the luxury shopping experience jewelry customers desire? How are customers greeted when they enter the store? Are sales associates trained to create rapport through their greetings? How are shoppers engaged when they have to wait for a sales associate? How are sales associates trained to encourage shoppers to share their shopping objectives without sounding like they are merely trying to qualify shoppers? How are shoppers encouraged to try on jewelry? How are sales associates supported in their perpetually evolving sales skills and talents? What total shopping experiences might individual customers perceive when they visit the store during peak holiday sales periods?
In each case, the shopper’s lasting impression of the jewelry company is determined by how professional, engaging, competent, concerned, accommodating, understanding and empathetic the staff is perceived to be…not just on their first visit to the store, but during every exposure to the company. Make sure you and your staff use your moments of truth wisely. Impressions are easily made and sometimes difficult to change. Plan how to exceed your customers’ expectations by better anticipating each moment of truth and reap the rewards this Valentine selling season.