Electronics retailers have been struggling in recent years, with a nearly 5% drop in sales over the last 5 years, while retailers overall saw 15% growth. 14% of privately-owned electronics retailers have shutdown, compared to less than 1% of other retailers. In the midst of this touch market, tech stores are trying new ways to appeal to customers.
Radio Shack, once known for its knowledgeable staff and hard-to-find electronics parts, tried shifting its business model to sell only finished products. As a result, their customer-based evaporated and they lost what made the retailer unique. By 2016, RadioShack had the lowest customer experience rating of all U.S. retailers. In 2017, they shut down more than 1,000 stores.
Customer experience is a huge factor in retailers’ success, but customer reviews rank in-store experiences consistently below digital and mobile experiences. More than half of Americans say they’ll leave a brand they love after a few bad experiences. According to consumers, the worst offenders are employees with a bad attitude, unfriendly service, lack of trust in the company, and knowledgeable employees.
Most customers feel that companies are losing the human touch in favor of chatbots and automated processes that keep down costs. More than 4 out of 5 customers say their desire to interact with a human increase as technology improves and becomes more complex. And customers are willing to pay as much as 14% more for a good experience.
The Apple Store
The Apple Store is the gold standard of customer experience among technology retailers. When it decided to open its own retail stores, Apple sent its store managers to the Ritz-Carlton hospitality training. It’s customer services model emphasizes warm friendly greetings and goodbyes, personalized experiences, and using customer’s names.
Apple stores are even designed to look like a hotel. The Genius Bar look like a concierge station, while the store itself, with its open, minimalist floor plan acts as a sort of lobby. Customers waiting in the store are kept busy by a full spectrum of Apple devices to try for themselves. But no one has to wait long, as customers can make reservations to ensure staff are ready to help when they arrive.
The Apple Store make nearly $36 million in annual sales, outstripping Best Buy, Verizon, and At&T. But Apple only has 270 stores, one-fifth of what the next biggest retailer, Best Buy has to offer.