Overcoming “Project Fear” with Hope and STARS

My previous post lamented the launch of “Project Fear 2.0” (or is it 3.0?) by the British Retail Consortium (BRC): my simple message is that the Retail sector today contains myriad wasted opportunities and latent profit potential – it just needs to learn how to grab those opportunities and fulfil that potential!

I was particularly sorry that, in his capacity as chair of the BRC, Sir Charlie Mayfield was the bearer of tidings of doom for the sector (900,000 job losses by 2025, with an understandable reaction by USDAW, the shopworkers’ union): Mayfield is also chair of the John Lewis Partnership, a company that embodies, in its own words,”a visionary and successful way of doing business, boldly putting the happiness of Partners [employees] at the centre of everything it does.”

What a pity the BRC didn’t argue for this sort of approach, rather than predicting disastrous consequences if employees are well paid and apprentices get better opportunities!

The BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, added: “We hope to see technology and competition resulting in better experiences for the customer and better jobs for those working in retail.” I agree: although this won’t be the case if technology isn’t used in the right way and if competition simply leads to price wars.

So, what is the “right way” to bring hope to the Retail sector?

The following is an overview of a simple, yet fundamental approach to creating Customer Experiences that will separate the winners from the losers, over the next five years (if that!). In previous posts I’ve referred to it as the Customer Experience Model – however I think it needs a more upbeat description than that! So, based on best practice, and my own experience of what it takes to delight over 30 million paying Customers, I’m calling it “Project STARS”:

STARS Customer Experience Model
STARS Customer Experience Model

S tory – a compelling vision for your Customer Experience, easily understood, communicated and demonstrated.

T eam – as I said in my previous post, the future winners will focus on their Customers as people, and on their people as Customers.

A mbience – the environment where the experience takes place. Every detail should reflect and reinforce your Brand in the Customer’s experience.

R ecipients – Customers! How well do you know them? Do you know how they feel about you? Do you know WHY they buy?

S ystems – designing your Customer Experience is not only a whole-organisation, life-long undertaking (that’s right, it’s not something the Marketing Team presents on, once every three years!), it’s underpinned by every system and process you put in place to create, maintain and enhance it.

That’s it! It’s deceptively simple, however as I’ve said it’s based on best practice and more than two decades’ experience. The issue for me – and for you – is that I don’t see the majority (by sales volume or footprint) of retailers today using it intelligently, creatively, or at all.

A starting point might be to read the new book by professional futurist Nick Price: “Self-Awareness for Strategy”. It’s a practical guide to thinking about the future, and it demonstrates powerfully why many organisations tend to think in very short time horizons, with their decision-making consequently, and damagingly, limited.

After that, please share, comment on or expand on this post. The future of Retail has profound societal as well as economic implications.

And if you’d like to know more about Project STARS, or anything else in this post, please get in touch.

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