Part 5: How Do Loyal Retail Customers Perceive Your Staff's Knowledge?

In my last post I provided research results ranking the top seven advantages of shopping in specialty pool retail stores. Next, I will provide some insight on each, starting with the one that ranked highest in the minds of loyal pool retail customers (or "Loyalists"): more knowledgeable staff. 

Nearly 80 percent of Loyalists said the single most important reason they shop at a specialty retailer is more knowledgeable staff. Most retailers believe they do well in delivering the advantages of a more knowledgeable staff — but that's not what we discovered with our customer research.

Recognition Gap

While approximately 80 percent of Loyalists see a more knowledgeable staff as an advantage for specialty retailers, 20 percent do not even recognize the knowledge advantage. That means that whatever retailers are doing to provide a more knowledgeable staff, it is not perceived as an advantage by 20 percent of their most loyal customers. This is likely a source of potential customer defection.

B5 Staff Knowledge

Satisfaction Gap

Of the almost 80 percent of Loyalists who do see the advantage of a more knowledgeable staff, more than half are not sufficiently satisfied with the overall value they receive from their pool retail store. Why aren’t 100 percent of them extremely satisfied? After all, these are all Loyalists! This is a huge and critical gap to understand. Pool stores that keep their customers build loyalty through an informed staff that can consistently communicate valued knowledge to the consumer. If retailers give up this perceived knowledge advantage, they lose their most meaningful differentiator today.

Only as Strong as the Weakest Link

Our research provides strong evidence of a significant gap between why consumers choose a specialty retailer and what they deliver. Faced with the high cost of new customer acquisition and limited marketing budgets, swimming pool retailers who are looking to survive must improve their most valuable advantages, which in this case is a more knowledgeable staff. It just takes one instance from an insufficiently-trained new employee or a well-meaning existing employee to destroy the advantage. Is this an area that needs to be improved? When we talk to dealers one-on-one, they tell us the answer is yes. 

If the latest economic downturn has provided any lessons, it is that retailers need to keep their customers close and their loyal customers closer. We hope this is a wake up call for retailers to improve their focus on the knowledge advantage.  

Your turn

We precisely identified the importance of the knowledge advantage. Can retailers say with confidence that their teams are among the best at delivery? How can they unless they put their business to the test?

Here is just one way to find out. Hire a professional shopping consultant, a temp agency, or even your Uncle Fred (if he can be honest with you) to shop your store. Prepare a list of questions to ask and some observations he or she should make during the visit. Have him or her carry a voice-activated pocket recorder to capture the sales presentation. Then, listen to the results, both on tape as well as from the perspective of the hired “customer.”

Retailers may find that their employees are not performing as expected. Just because an employee training program is in place doesn’t mean it is having the desired results. But once retailers know how their staff members are performing, they can take any steps needed to improve the delivery of the knowledge advantage.

See the previous post in this series: Why Do Loyal Customers Shop at Your Pool Store? 

Page 1 of 155
Next Page
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library