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4 Essential Lessons For Retail Sector From This Non-Profit Organization

In one of our previous articles, we talked about waiting room and 7 easy steps for improving it. Therefore, comfortable chairs, free internet or nice beverages should not come as a surprise to you, right?

But what about having your tax papers taken care of while you wait for a doctor’s visit? This does seem a bit unusual, doesn’t it? Well, it did not seem so to pediatricians Lucy Marcil and Michael Hole.

Michael, being told by his customers how time-consuming and struggling it is for employed parents to use free tax prep centers across the city, decided to make a change and talked to his colleague, Lucy Marcil, about this.

Lucy herself participated in an Urban Health and Advocacy project that helped its members to identify how public policy and economics affect health. The pediatrician talks about her experience at this TED talk.

Doctors realized that their patients were eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), but could not receive it due to the absence of the tax papers. And that was where the idea of creating a non-profit organization called StreetCred came from. The organization started offering free tax prep services for low-income families right in the pediatrician’s waiting room.

StreetCred helped over 700 families to get back $1.6 million during 2016-2017 tax season period but it can also help retail sector with several points regarding improving their customer relationship and fostering loyalty.

1. Meet Your Customers Where They Are

StreetCred founders determined that their patients were having problems regarding filling the tax papers that were connected to the doctors’ visit. Therefore, two entrepreneurs saw the opportunity in offering low-income families a service, more specifically EITC, in a place where they would need it the most - the pediatrician’s office.

As a result, the tax service is exactly where people that need it are. That is precisely what your business should be seeking. Being where the customers are. However, before understanding where your customers are you need to understand who are your customers.

An accurately done customer research can help you in this. Try to think about your client’s key characteristics such as age, gender, location, income, behavior and later determine their motivations behind shopping with you and how can you fill the “service gap” like StreetCred did.

To make this process more effective and efficient try mapping the customer journey. Sometimes the customers themselves do not see the gap so visualizing the processes that a customer goes through will not only increase your return on marketing investment by approximately 54% but also make things clearer for you such as in which specific process assistance is required.

2. Listen To Your Customer

conversation with customer

In an interview, Michael Hole mentioned that the idea for founding StreetCred did not come from the founders but rather from the patients. There was a real problem and only after communicating with patients did it become evident.

Customers are your primary source of information and not using this to your advantage will yield no good results. Ask questions and encourage for feedback. Your clients are the users of your services and the main reason of your services are your clients. Hence, you will find no better reference for more insights.

  • Having in-store customer feedback forms - create a form asking your clients about their opinion, suggestions and/or criticism.

  • Having a face-to-face communication - approach your customers while they are shopping at your store, ask them how their experience is going and what do they think about it. Not only will this increase your customer trust in your business but also provide valuable insights.

  • Online surveys - motivate your customers to give feedback through surveys by offering special discounts. One of the main advantages of this is that it is easier to analyze.

Since we are talking about insights, Qminder serves as a perfect tool that provides you with the hard data for anticipating customer needs, staff planning, performance reviews, service management, daily operations, and budgets.

3. Added-Value

What does StreetCorp provide to the patients? A comfort, a feeling of appreciation, an extra value in the form of tax prep option. The idea that its founders care about the patients and went an extra mile for providing this service is so empathetic.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

A product is not enough anymore. Customer preferences are changing and people started caring about the reasons why companies exist and the whole experiences while interacting with a company.

A research showed that things like retail environment, atmosphere as well as client’s relationship with store employees have a direct influence on the customer satisfaction.

Provide added value to your customers while they shop with you by:

  • Motivating your employees to help the shoppers with their expertise, product knowledge and useful recommendations

  • Show your customers how much they matter to you by contacting them immediately after the product they were looking for is in stock again.

  • Referring to your customers by their name. A research showed that we appreciate being called by our name so much that several regions in our brain show greater activation.

  • Take advantage of loyalty programs to award your faithful customers with special discounts or prizes so they keep coming back.

4. Don’t Let Innovations Scare You

Sometimes innovative ideas are challenging. They require a time commitment and are hard to prove that will ultimately pay off. Lucy Marcil says that in the beginning a lot of people were giving her comments that the idea would not work and there was no time for it.

Many organizations see revenue, profit and market share as the only measure of company success. And innovations that bring knowledge, attractiveness to the customer, increased client loyalty and retention might be hard to be always expressed in numbers but are certainly the true value of an enterprise.

In the age of digital, online sales are increasing and e-Commerce is becoming more trendy. Regardless, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are still leading in the retail space. But still, retail sector representatives should be on the constant search for ways of competing with online players and one of these ways is continuous innovation.

Technologies today can be used in your favor to acquire as much information about the customer as possible even if you have a physical location only. Understand that the main motivator of people to use your store is the comfort and a pleasant experience.

Did you know that lack of personalization caused frustration in 71% of consumers? Hence, if your sales representatives will know the name of your clients, their preferences, tastes and previous shopping experiences, it will facilitate the whole shopping process by personalizing the whole experience which will ultimately result in a happier customer.

StreetCred is an excellent example of how prioritizing your client’s comfort pays off. Even though the organization is a non-profit, the retail sector has a lot to learn from the founders.

Drive customer loyalty at your location with a customer-oriented mindset, always put yourself in their shoes and use the above-stated lessons for your business success.

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