Welcome clients and guests to our new website. It is Spring of 2011 and wherever you are, you are no doubt living with the realities of an ever-changing climate for the world of retail. Both globally and locally, we are experiencing the impact of consumer trends, economic realities, and technology breakthroughs that impact every facet of our businesses.
Yet while retailers adapt the newest technologies for sourcing and distributing products, for selling via online platforms and from eco-friendly store locations, and for communicating with employees and customers, this basic reality remains unchanged: Any successful retail company must satisfy its customers, one experience at a time.
Shoppers don't talk to an Enterprise Resource Planning system. They may be environmentally conscious, but they are not any more impressed with a LEED certified location if it is out-of-stock on an advertised item. Treat a customer rudely or indifferently and he won't hesitate to eat at the restaurant down the road even if it (gasp!) lacks free Wi-Fi.
Similarly, an employee will not be any more committed simply because she can use a mobile handheld scanner to ring up a customer's purchases. If her supervisor never provides constructive feedback, or if the management team doesn't act consistently with the Value Statement posted in the break room, don't count on a smile when a harried customer needs some assistance.
That is why I love what I do. To me, helping a retailer listen to its customers and employees is akin to tracking the vital signs of a patient. It's easy for this regular feedback to be drowned out by the urgencies of running a store; by the tasks and procedures and meetings and situations that constantly compete for attention. It is tempting to be consumed with monitoring the competition, responding to the latest trends, and to adapting the newest technologies.
Of course these activities are important. But if you really want to assess the underlying health of the company, there is no substitute for regularly listening to voices of customers and employees, the ones that tell you what it's really like to shop and work in your stores on a daily basis. The ones on the front line, interacting with each other face-to-face, one visit at a time.
So, welcome. As we embark on this new and exciting phase of our own growth as The Retail Feedback Group, I look forward to working with you as a client, colleague, or partner. It wouldn't be fitting if I didn't encourage you to provide us with feedback about how RFG can better meet your needs, at the present and in the future. We're listening!
Douglas Madenberg President, RFG
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