“ You’ve got to start with the experience and work back to technology”
— Steve Jobs
Truer words have never been spoken from the late great technology pioneer. Today manufacturers and mattress retailers seem to be attempting to fix reduced traffic counts and slumping sales with product, namely with the mattress-in-a-box solution.
By now you understand mattresses in a box are nothing new, but most in our industry are losing their minds on this supposedly wonderful method of buying a mattress. Again, it’s just a product not an experience. The mattress buying experience is where our industry should be collectively focused, 100 percent all in, in all ways, all the time.
A positive buying experience speaks to consumers’ connection and emotional response to their purchase. What is new, however, about the mattress-in-a-box category is how many online companies have been able to market their message, which is all about our industry’s experience flaws, to the customer pool we share.
Most online retailers do a great job of marketing their website but speak very little about their own product. They also spend lots of time and energy talking about how bad our in-store products and experiences are. Of course, little of this matters to the customer as online mattress retail is growing by leaps and bounds. It is the failure of the collective in-store, positive mattress buying experience which has allowed this.
Therefore, as we embark on a New Year I will challenge you to commit full force and go all in on the mattress buying experience in your store.
There are two parts to the mattress buying success equation. The first part is the marketing of your mattress-buying message. Remember the wise words of Steve Jobs who said experience is not about the product. Your marketing messages cannot be about the brand, the product itself, the prices, your store and its tenure, ownership status and place in the community. While these all have relative importance, NONE of them matter to the customer.
What matters most to the customer is your answer to their question: “What’s in it for me?” That being said, here’s our 7 Step Wake Up Happy Promise, which has allowed us to both market and master the mattress buying experience.
Educate your potential customer with information that is helpful to them, devoid of brand affiliation or even the need to buy solely from your store. Always offer truly helpful information. In our store we offer three different mattress-buying guides designed to help the customer find the best mattress that fits their needs. We share these buying guides through various advertising channels from our website to social media and print media. Potential customers can gain access to these guides with a simple exchange of name and email. At this point we have a robust email marketing automation campaign in place to drive these leads into our store to become customers.
Have a relaxed, informed and guided conversation about how your solutions fit the customers’ sleep needs. In my store we offer an in-depth, sit-down-style sleep assessment in our customer lounge. This assessment is designed to engage and help the customer focus and understand which of our many sleep systems fit their need. We don’t sell them a mattress, we help to affirm that our solutions fit their needs and our store and staff will always offer the better solution for their need as compared to our competition both online and in-store.
Permit the customer to explore, try and experience the very best you have to offer. While this may seem elementary, just how committed are you to this part of the process? Some stores have written rules about proximity of sales associate in relation to the customer in the store; in other words, they must hover. Not a good ingredient in the experience equation. How many tools do you have in place to allow the customer to be comfortable and relax? Do you offer sanitary pillow napkins to lie over the demonstration pillows? How clean are your floor models? How clean is your store and mattress department? Is it cluttered? Do you offer a safe place for coats, jackets and handbags? Are women who are shopping alone on guard because they are in the store/department with a solo male sales associate out of eyesight and earshot of others? Remember, your customer does have the 100 percent, risk-free option of buying a mattress from the COMFORT of THEIR home versus the strange land that is your store.
Now more than ever, risk reversal seems to be the minimum barrier of entry for most mattress customers. We offer a 120 Night Risk Free Wake Up Happy Guarantee in our store. Gone are the days of the “tail lights” return policy. The evolution of mattress buying has progressed far enough and fast enough to where if you are to succeed this year and beyond as a brick-and-mortar mattress retailer you simply must offer a comfort guarantee. Understand I don’t like to do this, it does slow things down logistically and hamper profitability, but the customer has spoken loud and clear—they want the option of a risk-free, hassle-free return policy. Some will not even consider your store if you don’t offer one.
Showcase your social proof that you’re the place in your community to invest in a mattress. You simply must have positive reviews to showcase online, better if you have more than all of your competition. Systems to ask for reviews at the point-of-sale seem to work the best as opposed to waiting until the mattress is delivered. We offer both review options—online and old-school paper and pen mail back form. We get 10 to 1 paper and pen mail back testimonial forms versus online reviews. Regardless, we welcome them all and you should too.
Over manage your delivery and keep it in house if possible. Notice the words “over manage;” we over manage our delivery steps.
We deliberately keep our appointments to two-hour windows and do not over book our day. We have found customers are far happier with a smaller window as opposed to four-hour windows or all-day wait arounds. If we need to deliver at a specific hour or time we will and book the truck accordingly. Of course this may not be an option if you have multiple trucks and many stores.
But, I would challenge that line of thinking. After all, even FedEx has their Custom Critical level of service; and it’s about choice, and you can choose to say yes or no to these types of customer requests.
We have our delivery staff execute a script and a specific set of actions (their greeting at the front door, some light vacuuming if accepted, and giving of a gift bag) in the home to ensure our customers feel safe and properly taken care of. Remember, most of your customers have never even invited their close personal friends and family into their bedrooms, yet your delivery staff simply must be in the bedroom to execute the delivery.
Always communicate post sale. Sadly today the only time you hear from a customer post sale is when they have a complaint. It’s certainly not the way it used to be. We’ve found tremendous success in calling our customers about two weeks after the sale simply to ensure that they are loving their new mattress. I know what you’re thinking: What if they don’t like it?
That’s why you have a comfort guarantee in place, Step #4. On this call you can remind them of the customer-friendly policy and handle accordingly.
Steps one through seven are bound to each other and work best together for maximum result. I’ve found one or two steps can’t succeed to the levels at which all seven do.
For the second part of the equation, mastering the mattress buying experience, it’s critical that your training and in-store, customer-facing actions and words match up precisely with these steps.
We’ve found that our 7 Step Wake Up Happy Promise not only is a great marketing piece and foundational element of all our marketing efforts, but also functions as a higher level training document and governs all our interactions with our customers.
We carefully chose our words in our promise—Promise, No Pressure, Trust—for a reason. If you read our online reviews, you’d find a commonality between the words in our 7 Step Wake Up Happy Promise and the online reviews our customer left us. We always seek to have our words meet our actions.
To me, when you master an art all words and actions line up.
As we embark on 2018, I hope you’ll accept this challenge to both market and master in all ways a stellar and superior mattress buying experience. There is something special and valuable only we as brick-and-mortar retailers can offer both our customers and the local community.
We have been and will be for a long time an integral part of how our customers enjoy their homes and lead happy and productive lives.
Let us never forget this and always remember the ability we have to help our customers wake up happy.