Text and photo by Nils Vanebo

André Pedersen is the COO of Bjørklund. At Retail Week Live in London, he and Kayleigh Fazan from the International Retail Academy discussed the customer encounter.

“-A true ambassador isn’t a bargain hunter any more, it’s someone who looks for new products. The customer forms a relationship with the store staff, and you have the opportunity to trade up”, said Pedersen.
“-It’s considerably more cost-efficient to have customers who come back than it is to get new ones”, he added.
“-Brand ambassadors add value and bring your brand further into the market. The customer has made a choice to see you by coming to the shop”, Fazan noted.

Bjørklund’s retail director continued:

“-Physical meetings are clearly the strongest option. The customer journey is only halfway there when the customer leaves. It can be completed when the customer comes back. Everything happens in the customer encounter.”
“-Some customers come to the shop to be inspired, while others know what they want. It’s all about asking the right questions”, Fazan pointed out.

André Pedersen noted the value of a returning customer, and the value of a smile. What is saved on marketing can be used to train employees even further.

“-It’s ultimately all about the employees. Set the shop manager free and mine their potential. ‘Ignite the customer’ It’s about your mind set and your skill set”, said Fazan.

What is the retailers service mission?

“-What is the retailer’s service mission? Shop managers and employees must be able to answer this question quickly and accurately. The franchise needs a structure in which employees are empowered and can think for themselves”, said Pedersen.

Andre Pedersen from Bjørklund and Kayleigh Fazan at Retail Week Live in London. Photo by Nils Vanebo.

Bottom-up management makes shop employees more committed. The strategy plan at Bjørklund is based on a bottom-up structure. The budgeting process starts from below and leads to KPIs with everyone’s contributions.

“-We must give employees these tools. It will be much easier throughout the year when the employees have contributed to the process. Don’t just give them a budget. That won’t work. That won’t give them a sense of ownership”, said Pedersen.

Bjørklund is fact-driven. In addition to hard facts, they want to know what lies behind the numbers.
“-This is where Maze helps us. We get immediate feedback, and the real response gives us a foundation to work from.”

Bjørklund’s most important KPI is conversion.
”-We must turn guests into customers, as footfall will decrease. Customers will then trade down. For that reason, we have to convert more customers”, André Pedersen concluded.

High-performing teams

Øyvind Krohn, the CEO of Hageland and Gøril Wold Wægger, a senior partner at Maze discussed the secrets of high-performing teams.

Hageland has 103 outlets and holds the no. 2 spot in its industry.
“-As the challenger, we’re focusing on our customers to improve. We want the most satisfied customers”, said Krohn.

Hageland has picked out expertise and customer service as areas of focus in which they need to improve.
“-We will develop culture and passion in our shop, and we need daily customer feedback to achieve our goals.”

Øyvind Krohn explained that they had realised the importance of customer satisfaction.
“-8 out of 10 Hageland customers come back because they had a good experience with us. We get just 1 out of 10 customers from marketing, which is costly as well.”

Krohn went on to note that retail is teamwork. A lot of people participate in making a good customer encounter. Teams now work independently and are self-motivated.
“-This work is like climbing a mountain. You have to take it one step at a time. We check that we’re on the right path every day.”

Hageland used to use mystery shoppers.
“-That was a mechanical check-up to see if our hard factors were in place”, said Krohn.

Now, they use Maze, where each goal is set at the shop level 1-2 months in advance. They discuss these goals in their morning meetings.

“-Negative feedback gives us something to work with. We can contact dissatisfied customers. We can’t afford to lose customers”, said Krohn.

Gøril Wold Wægger from Maze said that not only do they contribute the data, but also commitment and training programmes.
“-Store employees are trained to offer help and say hello through gamification.”

Gamification entails community and positive competition. It motives and gives shop employees immediate rewards. They are encouraged to improve and boost their cooperation and teamwork.
“-Store employees need insight into how they perform in key areas to be able to alter the way they behave in stores.”

She went on to say that Hageland, through the use of Maze, has empowered its employees.
“-Even on their days off, employees open the app and check their status.”

Customers want to give feedback. They’re happy to make the store better by answering relevant questions.