Beyond Customer Service

Why investing in the customer experience drives ratings and loyalty

In today’s hyperconnected world, retailers don’t own their brand—their customers do.

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Retailers own the overall customer experience—every interaction with the customer from start to finish. They control how the store appears from the road, the interactions with customers on social media and whether or not the restrooms are clean, the fuel pumps are well-lit and the store layouts easy to understand. By providing a quality experience, they can influence what is said and shared about their brand.

Strategic customer experience can further enhance the experience. A recent survey of GasBuddy users found that in addition to gas prices and location, customer service was considered the most important factor driving their visits. This includes responding to online reviews, offering genuine thanks at the point-of-sale and being attentive to their needs.

But it can be tempting to assume that “more is more.” Many of us have walked into a retail store only to be greeted in a way that seemed forced or inauthentic, or encountered employees who were overzealous in offers of assistance.

Most customers don’t require that level of interaction. Many of them, especially millennials, seek to direct their own retail experience. Rather than looking for assistance and guidance, they want choices, options and the freedom to navigate as they please.

Retailers can facilitate this in a number of ways. Ensure the store is designed from start to finish in a clear, intuitive manner. Encourage customization on foodservice menus and provide self-serve coffee options. Use point-of-purchase displays to inform customers of new products and existing offers and address frequently asked questions.

And when opportunities for customer service interactions do arise, be ready with the right strategies.

Interact with customers in a way that makes them feel valued and welcomed. Provide a clear way to report issues with restroom cleanliness. Train employees to take charge of difficult situations and handle them in a way that enhances the brand’s reputation.

When negative reviews are posted online, see them for what they are: an opportunity.

A recent survey found that 72% of GasBuddy users would consider returning to a store if their complaint were resolved. Through GasBuddy Business Pages, retailers have the opportunity to manage their reputation by responding directly to these reviews.

If someone leaves a review that a card reader didn’t work, a store might reply, “Thank you for alerting us to the problem with our credit-card readers. We fixed the problem, and all pumps are working fine!” Not only does this show the individual that his or her complaint was taken seriously, but it signals to everyone else visiting the station’s page that there are no issues with the gas pumps. 

Positive reviews also present an opportunity for GasBuddy Business Pages partners. When customers rave about a store’s foodservice and clean restrooms, consider thanking them for their business. Invite them to return.

It’s one more way to improve a brand’s reputation by controlling the experience. 

This post is sponsored by GasBuddy

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