In the last two years, retail has evolved at warp speed.

As brands and consumers alike adapted to the unprecedented conditions of the pandemic, widespread digital behaviours took root. But digital transformation isn’t just for e-commerce brands and online shoppers. It is also changing the in-store experience for both customers and staff.

Store staff are the face of your brand. They are the physical embodiment of your experience. Maze empowers staff to improve by providing staff with personalised feedback, alongside AI powered training, on a daily basis. This real-time feedback loop creates positive new behaviours, personalised to each employee and each store, allowing retailers to perfect their in-store customer experience.

At Retail Week 2022, we had the privilege of opening the first session on the main stage. Joined by Carina Hummel, General Manager for Audiology for Specsavers, we explored how the brand supercharged in-store colleague engagement whilst providing the best experience to its customers through Maze’s technology.

Listen to Carina Hummels talk at Retail week 2022:

Entering a new era for in-store

“Can you put yourselves in the shoes of an eighteen year old girl on her way into her first day of work at Specsavers?”, opened Carina. “You can imagine her feeling nervous and uncertain – but maybe also relaxed as she thought it would be a short term job before going to Uni.”

“That young girl was me. And if you told me that twenty-one years later I’d be standing here, giving this speech after two decades at Specsavers, I never would have believed you.” Carina illustrated. She explained how Specsavers puts its customers at the heart of everything, and how every day she has felt empowered to make a difference.

Carina spoke of Specsavers ambition to change lives through better sight and better hearing. “But to do that effectively, we need to know how customers feel about us and their experience.”

Specsavers wants to help its customers. And so do the colleagues who work there. Through Maze Feedback, the retailer was able to transform these ambitions into a measurable reality. Since implementing Maze’s solution in 2011, Specsavers has made proactive improvements to its customer journey. And what started as a small experiment with the customer glasses journey, has evolved into a business-wide practice.

Colleagues want to do a good job. But in a physical store, there are so many data points that it is impossible for any person to specifically understand where the opportunities for improvement lie. Maze takes feedback from customers, and then delivers tailored training to individual staff and stores through its AI-powered app.

Maze data revealed what stores were doing well and why – as well as highlighting customer pain points. “The more we know about our customers, the better experiences we can provide,” Carina noted. “Now we capture over 70,000 pieces of customer feedback globally every week – and well over a million bits of feedback per year. This keeps our finger on the pulse of what our customers need from us”.

Carina gave the example of how the Specsavers team could see that in some stores customers wanted more information on how products and services would benefit them – whereas in others people really appreciated seeing friendly colleagues. Specsavers was then able to tailor its training accordingly through Maze’s app.

This feedback can respond to changes in the wider world. “Through COVID, we added important contextual questions, such as: how do you feel about your safety in-store? Did we meet your expectations around PPE and social distancing?”, Carina explained. “We could better understand how customers were feeling, and how we could improve our in-store experience as we navigated through the pandemic.”

Knowledge is power. Equipped with these insights, Specsavers could see its customer experience in a new light – and with new metrics:

  • Average Transaction Values were higher for Customers who described themselves as happy with the ‘wait time’ in store and who were happy with the advice given about frames
  • Customers who felt they received good value during an eye-test were 20% more likely to return.

These metrics inform marketing strategies as much as they shape the in-store experience. Through Maze’s surveys, Specsavers was able to create a 12,000 strong pool of hyper-engaged customers who provide valuable feedback on wider brand activities.

Humans aren’t friction

Technology is changing society. And it is certainly changing retail. But a prominent theme from RWL2022 was understanding how technology can augment and supercharge human engagement, as opposed to replacing it.

Through Maze Feedback, Specsavers is able to hear from a massive customer pool and encourage direct dialogue between brand and consumer. And now it’s added one final question: did the team at Specsavers leave you with a smile on your face?

Specsavers now knows that 90% of customers leave its stores smiling. And they can learn why some don’t. “Competition in retail is intensifying,” noted Carina. “People are facing inflation and a cost of living crisis. But you can’t put a fiscal figure on what a smile can mean – for both customer and brand.”

“Maze not only improves our margins by intelligently shaping our customer experience – it empowers us to data into culture,” Carina Hummel summarised. “We know that if we make each other smile, and our customers smile – we are doing a good job.”