Join AMA Houston for our November Luncheon, November 8, 2017, when Karen Contos with PROS will present key insights about the rapidly evolving B2B buying experience and the necessary changes today’s sellers must employ to compete and thrive. Register today.

"Honey, I'm 64, grandmother of four, but I'm not dead yet," said one Palais Royal customer in response to being asked if she shopped for herself. Stage Store Inc. CMO, Bill Gentner, the company that owns Palais Royal, shared this insight with AMA Houston members at the October Luncheon. This was one of the insights Gentner also introduced to Stage when he was brought in to address their falling market share. After digging into their research, he learned he needed to challenge internal perceptions of their top customer and how to reach their true following.

As Stage’s stores primary audience ages, Gentner wanted to change the brand's perception and bring in a younger relevance. Starting with limited customer insights, and a mythology around who the customer was, Gentner engaged in research that spanned 5,400 customer surveys and focus groups in two states.

During the study, they uncovered that shoppers who spent money at their stores typically didn't shop for themselves because they wanted more modern fashion. Additionally, their stores were not high in the consideration set and had a lower share of wallet than competing stores.

With the insights gleaned from the large-scale study, he then had to work internally to change perceptions. One of the top objections was that the women who shopped at Stage stores wanted last year’s fashion, not this year's. In response, Gentner offered advice to individuals looking to drive change that mirrored his approach. His advice includes:

  • Respond to internal objections by using the customer's voice. Challenge internal sentiments by directly referring to research to begin changing perceptions.
  • Assess what your organization will hear. Make sure they understand the scope of the problem.
  • Presentation is key. Learn how to present data to the organization so they understand the insights and are persuaded by the message.
  • Use multiple sources of data. Triangulate information and find commonalities that point to the truth about the problem you're presenting.
  • Bring together one story to tell. Have a clear message for management about the issue at hand.
  • Repeat and keep repeating. Get people to understand the insights and data just as deeply as you by repeating the information.
  • Be heard by management. Understand where management is in the spectrum of helping your cause, learn that all wins count, and know that your success will be found over time.

To turn things around for Stage stores, Gentner became a studier of customer satisfaction and spending. By implementing greeting, customer satisfaction scores improved 25 percent. Customer satisfaction scores were figured into bonus structures. They stopped opening stores and set capital to increase customer experience in the store. All these things combined helped to improve the experience for customers at stores.

Moving forward, Stage Stores is looking to keep their finger on the pulse of their true customer base with social media and remaining true to the customer's voice. It's been a long journey for Gentner and his team, but they believe they will continue making headway.

If you want more insights into achieving outstanding company customer experience, join AMA Houston for our November Luncheon, November 8, 2017, when Karen Contos with PROS will present key insights about the rapidly evolving B2B buying experience and the necessary changes today’s sellers must employ to compete and thrive.

Register Today

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