Perfecting Customer Experience

April 2018—

HFA’s Insights 2018 can help your store master the elusive strategy

WHAT: Insights 2018
WHERE: Minneapolis
WHEN: Sept. 14-15

8 Learning Labs – 11 Topics – 5 Networking Opportunities – 17 Events

Furniture retailers are always focusing on product and value to attract shoppers. But in recent years retailers are rethinking the value being measured. Today value is increasingly not in the product but in the services, or customer experience, retailers provide from start to finish.

For many furniture stores that customer experience is the single greatest predictor of whether customers will return—or defect to another competitor the next time they’re in the market for home furnishings. Defining that experience (customer experience is not customer service) and how retailers can improve it in their stores is the heart of Insights 2018, the Home Furnishings Association’s annual conference, Sept. 14-15, in Minneapolis.

Customer experiences happen whether they’re designed to be amazing or not, says Brian Solis, principal analyst with Altimeter Group, who will speak about Digital Darwinism and the future of furniture retail at Insights. “The best and the worst experiences convert into memories. How people experience those moments shouldn’t be left to chance,” says Solis.

“In this always-on, hyper-connected, mobile world, customers are sharing those experiences online, everywhere, and those shared experiences become the currency of influence. Customers increasingly rely on the experiences people have and share to inform and shape their decisions and next steps.”

Solis says customer experience in your furniture store has never been more important, which is why it must be at the heart of everything. “That takes insight, empathy and then design,” he says. “Touchpoints must be more than functional, transactional and connected. They must bring to life desired experiences that people prefer and hopefully remember in ways that positively impact the brand and influence others.”

Customer experience is how customers perceive their experiences with your store. “Once you understand that,” says Sharron Bradley, CEO of the Home Furnishings Association, “you can bring the customer’s perspective to every business decision you make.

“That’s the heart of Insights 2018,” she says. “We want our retailers to learn how to enhance the customer experience from online to in the store to out the door. Insights and our lineup of smart speakers will help our members design customer experience strategies for the experiences they want their customers to have and share.”

Against this backdrop, Insights 2018 is throwing out the old way retailers gathered for conference. Gone are the days where retailers spent three or four days away from their stores sitting on uncomfortable chairs for 90-minute lectures. Insights speakers, some of the brightest and most innovative experts on customer experience, will create a hands-on, experiential learning environment. Retailers will break up into small groups throughout each day to discuss needs and collaborate on solutions specific to their stores.

Every day will feature Insights’ exclusive Learning Labs, experiential, interactive breakout sessions designed to personalize strategies and help retailers better understand the customer experience for their stores. The Solution Room will allow retailers to take a deeper dive into the day’s topics. Retailers can simply choose a topic from the day’s events and join friends and peers to come up with solutions catered to their store.

“You’re not just learning from our panel of experts,” says Bradley, “you’re going to be learning from your peers. There’s no better group of experts than the members of our association.”

Best of all, says Bradley, Insights attendees will take in all this learning and sharing over a weekend. “Retailers will want to be back in their stores first thing Monday to start implementing what they learn,” she says.

Insights 2018 isn’t just for learning—it’s for celebrating, too. The HFA will be honoring its 2018 Retailer of the Year award winners as well as its Emerging Star and Trailblazer award recipients. Insights 2018 will be held at the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown in the heart of the city and within easy walking distance of theaters, restaurants, Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium.

“I’m excited about the changes we’ve made to our usual conference,” says Bradley. “Insights is going to be invaluable for retailers who are serious about growing their business.”