Whirlpool’s Ray Isted says retailers need to improve customer experience

Whirlpool’s national training manager, Ray Isted, has urged retailers to improve the overall consumer experience of their showroom to help boost sales.

Speaking to at KBB Birmingham, Ray Isted said that to be able to survive in a difficult, and highly competitive market, retailers need to look at their overall showroom experience and make their showrooms more inviting in order to win sales.

“There’s no denying it’s tough out there. We’re [Whirlpool UK] not flying but we’re doing well. Every product is a hard sell but we go for everything and don’t rest on our laurels, ” he said. “We’re very proactive and think creatively about what we do with our products and how we promote them. Every opportunity with a retailer is important.

“In order to survive retailers need to consider how they can make their studio more attractive to consumers. They need to communicate well with their customers and offer a solid service. In order to do this, retailers obviously need support from manufacturers in the form of innovative, quality products, in depth product training and a solid support package.”

Despite difficult trading conditions, Isted was keen to point out that the general buzz of the industry at the moment is positive. “There’s certainly a wave of different feelings in the market, some are up and some down, and that’s not helped by the picture painted by the media in general. But, we’ve all got to look at our own bank balances and there’s no question that we’re struggling in general but I think that’s why events like these are so important. It allows retailers to mix with people of a similar ilk which helps them realise that they’re not getting it wrong, it’s more that the market is simply tough.”

About Whirlpool

For nearly 100 years, the Whirlpool brand has helped people all over the world find better ways to take care of household tasks. We want our customers to live cleaner, more organized, less busy and more flavorful lives through our appliances. So every Whirlpool® product is born of our decades of experience creating incredibly useful features.

Further Opinion

Kitchen displays should reflect the target market and in choosing room sets Kitchen Designers should be inspirational and walking around many showrooms or exhibition displays it is clear to see that most kitchen companies do try to be inspirational, but in line with what Whirlpool’s Ray Isted touches on, how can the customer experience be improved?

Personally few retailers would consider how the showroom makes the customer feel.  High street store design is moving on, with showrooms now focusing on the overall buying experience. Just as web marketing has moved on and embraced the term ‘user experience’ we are now in an age where we want to not just use our kitchen, our appliances or our gadgets, but we wont to fall in love with them.

The Smart phone explosion is telling of this emotional culture shift as we have come to ‘lurve’ of iPhones and our Blackberry’s and its this emotional experience that the KBB industry need to emulate in their room sets, their showroom experience and in their designs.

Moving Forward with Customer Experience

Customer Experience isn’t about making the customer achieve orgasmic levels of excitement about the latest Franke Kettle Tap or beside themselves with emotion looking at the latest handless kitchen, its about making them feel a connection with their environment, and in doing so, making an emotional connection with the products on show.

This can be achieved in a number of ways.

Customer Experience Improvements

  1. In respect of kitchens, the showroom could have something similar to a Concierge Service – offering advice on where to buy cutlery, table linen, or glassware.
  2. A favourite at trade shows are products demonstrations and in the case of kitchens, we’ve seen some enterprising showrooms hold seminars at weekend peak times on cookery, or Modern Entertaining which combine the best elements of a Saturday Cooking show but showcasing the features of the latest hobs, cookers and clever storage ideas. The customers go home with some brochures and recipe ideas but the memory of that seminar outweighs walking around the showroom of a competitor.
  3. Another way to increase Customer Experience is to increase their time spent in-showroom and the relaxation levels. We as Brits don’t like to be sold to and we want to think it was us that decided to buy something and not because the salesperson persuaded us to. Relaxation is key to this. Put the customer in their comfort zone, not out of it and employ things like getting a local wine and cheese taster in, having fresh tea & coffee and sit down areas where couples can sit and discuss what they are seeing and experiencing.
  4. TV – People love gadgets and its no surprise that we are now seeing more and more integrated flat screen TV’s in the kitchen to enhance the dinning experience at home, for everyday meals.By putting flat screens in the displays, and having breakfast bars with stools and showing the Cooking Channel, it creates more of an experience that the customer will want or want to have at home and by setting the scene in this manner we can help enhance that emotional experience and aid the customer to visualise themselves in their new, modern kitchen fit for their dreams.