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TK's MORNING BUZZ: VSDA Brainstormers Share Valuable Keys to Keeping Customers Coming Back for More

12 Jul, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

This morning I thought I'd share with you some information that came out of aVSDA brainstorming session held last May in New England. Nearly 100 retailersattended the two-day session, and attendees were so up on the results that their peers in California were encouraged to stage a similar session the next month in Monterey.

Our intrepid senior editor, Joan Villa, was good enough to obtain for me a copy of the summary of the New England session. I'm happy to report that one of the key topics of discussion was the importance of customer service. I'll share a dozen of the suggestions that I think all retailers, big and small, would be wise to heed:

* Make it easy to find things in the store

* Acknowledge customers within five minutes

* Start an e-mail club

* Reward employees for recognizing repeat customers

* Promise no lines, or entertain customers waiting in line

* Clearly post rates and policies

* Have clerks engage in "hand selling," keeping them out on the floor,helping customers

* Maintain a dedicated customer service line (I like this one a lot)

* Get uniforms and name tags for the employees

* Buy back used DVDs from customers

* Hire movie lovers

* Send customers regular updates on new releases

These are just a few of the many useful suggestions that came out of thisbrainstorming session; e-mail me and I'd be happy to send you some more.

Going into store operations, I also found some very good suggestions.

Brainstormers suggested running regular reports on catalog and sellthrough product to better manage inventory and decide what stays and what should go;have managers shop the competition and report back what they find; cross-promote rentals with used movie sales through bundles, daily specials and other incentives; offer customers a discount for returning videos early; and hire a specialist to focus on late-fee collection.

I didn't attend the session, but Joan, who spoke with several retailers whoattended, said she heard nothing but praise. That doesn't surprise me."Executive conference?" "Brainstorming?" Those are just bigger words for networking, retailers talking to other retailers and sharing tips, suggestions and ideas.

I've always felt networking was the single most important element of the annual VSDA convention, even in the days when the show floor was huge.There's no voice like that of experience.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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