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What’s your favorite brand or retailer?

I can hear many of your responses:

  • Starbucks (or Dunkin Donuts if I’m in the Northeast – or Biggby if I’m in my hometown of Kalamazoo, MI)
  • Nordstrom
  • Chipotle or Qdoba
  • My local restaurant/bar/hardware store/etc.
  • Or the granddaddy of them all – Disney

Whether I ask managers or front-line employees, they give similar answers.

Retailers that do customer experience right engage their people in their strategy to drive mindset shifts and ultimately behavioral change. A key part of this process is establishing the case for change, or the why. Then we can engage people in the what – the strategy – so they understand how it’s designed to address the marketplace changes.

One of the most common marketplace challenges I help organizations address is evolving customer expectations. Only when we understand that the world has changed and that we must change too can we move forward.

In this process, I want to generate the following insights about what today’s customers are looking for from employees:

  • A personalized experience
  • The ability to customize the product or service
  • A seamless experience across channels
  • Consistency across locations and across shifts in the same location
  • Quick and customized recovery when things go wrong

One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is by asking employees about their favorite brands or retailers.

Why is this your favorite brand or retailer?

When I ask people why these are favorites, I hear:

  • They remember me and what I love.
  • I can get what I want, the way I want it.
  • Every part of the experience, whether I’m on my computer, on my phone, or in the store, is easy.
  • I know what to expect when I go in – the experience is the same every time.
  • Anyone can make it right if something goes wrong – and they ask how they can make it right for me, instead of giving me a standard “fix.”


By asking two questions about their own personal experience, we connect people to the case for change and they are primed and ready to know how they can make a difference. In fact, they are often asking, “How are we going to create a better experience for OUR customers?” before we can even get to the strategy conversation.

So give it a try.

Engage a few people on your team with the following questions:

  1. Where is your favorite place to shop/eat/stay? (Share your answer too!)
  2. Why? (Again, share your answer.)

You’ve just paved the way for a deeper conversation about how you’re planning to deliver a customer experience that sets you apart from the rest – in a way that feels authentic to employees and to your customers. More on authenticity and my point of view on it coming soon…

Let me know what brands you hear from your people and why!



October 27, 2016


I want to hear how you can help my organization align on and activate our strategy. Call me, today.

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