Want Customers to Walk Out of the Store Feeling Good? It Starts With the Art of Branding

Convenience-store customer service is about appealing, engaging content, according to Kristin Ghere of Jump Start
Branding and loyalty
CSP Staff

Successful marketing is like the art of good gift giving, said Kristin Ghere, director of marketing and brand management at convenience-store retailer Jump Start Stores, Wichita, Kansas.

At the Dover Fueling Solutions conference last week in Austin, Texas, Ghere spoke as a panelist and encouraged conference attendees to remember the best gift they had ever received, whether it was for Christmas, a birthday or another occasion.

“People think about it for a second, and usually their eyes light up,” she said.

For example, John Morris, senior director of product innovation at Dover Fueling Solutions, Downers Grove, Illinois, and a moderator of the session, told Ghere about how, as a kid, he got the coolest stereo system that was the first of its kind, and the speakers came off.

Ghere noted how excited Morris was while telling his story. “How do our customers feel when they get offers and experiences that are just for them? Their eyes light up,” Ghere said.

Transversely, the worst gift people have ever received is usually something impersonal and reveals how little the gift giver knows about them.

It’s off-putting when a customer is presented with an ad that doesn’t fit their age-range, gender, location or taste.

Ghere was joined by several technology leaders at the panel discussion titled Driving Results Through Brand Obsession, Loyalty and Untraditional Approaches. Along with Ghere, panelists included Brad Bossert, managing partner at Bulloch Technologies, Mississauga, Ontario; Gary Kortz, CEO of Gaming Hospitality Solutions, Aurora, Colorado; Jen Johnson, director of business development for localized marketing solutions at NACS, Alexandria, Virginia; Keelye Gaither, brand and marketing director at Key Oil Co., Weston, West Virginia.; and Ryan McManus, vice president of client technology solutions at Exchange Solutions, an advertising service for retailers based in Boston.

The session was moderated by three Dover Fueling Solutions leaders—Jen Threlkeld, senior product manager of fuel dispensers; John Morris, senior director of product innovation; and Marc Daft, senior director of sales.

Personalized offers make a loyalty program strong, said Bossert, “because a member will respond better if you present them with an offer that is relevant to them.”

Engagement is another key to a successful loyalty program, said McManus.

Use the technology to make that interaction with the customer as seamless, quick and as personalized as possible.” He said. “Push that very hard.”

Society is hungry for good customer service, Ghere said.

“We are craving that experience, but we’re not getting it all the time,” she said. “We’re let down by some of our daily experiences.”

A customer’s journey begins with their first interaction with the brand. Sometimes that’s through the app, sometimes it’s the moment they see the store’s sign on the highway and decide to make a stop. Forty to fifty percent of customers never make it inside the store, Ghere said.

“How are we going to serve those customers? Design the experience by going through the customer journey,” she said. “What does it look like when you get off the highway and drive by your store? Can you see the price sign? All these things that you can hyperfocus on say a lot about how you’re going to treat [the customer].”

Customers remember the feeling of a good experience just like they remember the feeling from their favorite gift.

“Is it a great interaction, or is it something that people don’t really get excited about?” said Ghere. “How do we build the customer expectation outside and bring them inside to super serve them there?”

Pictured: Jen Johnson (left), Keelye Gaither, Jen Threlkeld, John Morris, Gary Kortz, Kristin Ghere, Brad Bossert, Ryan McManus and Marc Daft.

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