COO Dave Nelson congratulates General Manager Michael Einer on his Exchange winning the COO award at the recent MSM/GM Conference.

The Power of the Customer Experience

 Customer service is a topic any worthwhile organization takes seriously. A company may have the best product selection at the best prices, but a poor customer experience can undermine all of that in one interaction.

Customer service has a significant impact on the bottom line. Studies show 81 percent of people are more likely to return to a business after receiving good customer service. This is an important statistics as a modest 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits up to 125 percent!

Customers have choices

Today, customers have more choices than ever on where and how they shop  without needing to leave the comforts of home. In this competitive landscape, you are the secret weapon in our efforts to create a customer experience that compels shoppers to drive  “inside the gate”  and past competitors to shop the Exchange.

Customer service is an area we can all influence, whether in a store directly interacting with service members and their families or at headquarters supporting store and e-commerce operations.

In the article, Five Steps to Handling Customer Complaints,” the author tells a story about an experience his wife had at a local retailer. She purchased a few items but once she got to her car, she realized the cashier forgot to take a discount on one of the stickered items. She went back into the store to ask for an adjustment. In an accusatory tone, the employee suggested she had placed the sticker there and the item had not been marked down. The customer responded by returning her entire purchase rather than receive an adjustment on the item. Another customer in line who overheard the interrogation, was equally offended and decided to leave the store as well. The result of one poor customer service interaction was two lost sales.

We are all empowered to resolve customer complaints on the spot—it’s our job. Use this authority to do right by those who take the time to shop with us and use their hard-earned Exchange benefit.

This is a reminder of the power of the customer experience in a digital age. With social media, one person’s dissatisfaction can affect 100, 1,000 or even 1 million other potential customers. The reality of a “shareable” world means the story of one bad customer engagement (with video evidence sometimes) can circle the globe in the blink of an eye.

When we are on the sales floor, we are on a big stage. It is up to all of us to positively influence the customer experience with consistently outstanding service.

The Exchange is not a building, a website or a product—it is you and me. When we exceed customer expectations, we prevail. When one of us fails to deliver what a customer needs, our entire team  from store associates to HQs personnel feels the effects.

Training, which you can find here, provides a roadmap for success with respect to customer service. There are four components:


  • Make a good first impression with the first five seconds
  • Be friendly when greeting customers
  • Use the shopper’s name and rank, especially when they are in uniform


  • Show you care
  • Demonstrate respect
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Focus completely on the customer
  • Do not interrupt
  • Respond positively

Suggest a solution

  • Emphasize a desire to serve rather than sell
  • Remember, you are the expert
  • Match customer needs to products
  • Tell them what’s new


  • Impact customers with two simple words:  Thank You
  • Grow and keep relationships
  • Use your customer’s name

A customer complaint is an opportunity to engage. Listen to the customer, apologize for the error if one was made, correct the situation and then genuinely thank the customer (an insincere acknowledgement can be worse than doing nothing at all). Handled properly, a complaint can turn a momentary challenge into a lifelong relationship.

The definition of empowerment is “giving of an ability; enablement or permission.” Everyone needs to understand they have the authority to make decisions in the spirit of customer service. We are all empowered to resolve customer complaints on the spot—it’s our job. Use this authority to do right by those who take the time to shop with us and use their hard-earned Exchange benefit.

Exchange associates do great things every day. In the coming months, I will share information on improving the customer experience. Use this information in discussions with your teammates as we focus on getting even better at taking care of the best customers in the world!

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