Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (SHOS) has taken steps to deliver what its parent company, Sears Holdings, has let slip away — a memorable customer experience that keeps people coming back.
Through a partnership with content marketing platform Yotpo, the Sears spinoff hopes to leverage user generated content gathered from both online and in-store feedback to help improve its customer service, offerings and overall customer satisfaction.
“At Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores we are dedicated to taking care of our customers and providing them with the best possible experience and service,” David Buckley, CMO/VP of Marketing and eCommerce for Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores told CMSWire in a statement.
“We have always had rigorous processes in place to react to post-purchase customer feedback left via our in-store receipts. With the increases in feedback coming from external review sites and technology enhancements, we took the steps necessary to integrate all feedback left on online review sites into our existing processes and procedures.”
Escaping the Sears Stigma
Over the years, the Sears name has been increasingly associated with poor customer service and dissatisfaction.
According to the 2014 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) Retail Report, Sears Holdings’ satisfaction rates fell five points from the previous year to a score of 73. It sat only three slots higher on the chart than Wal-Mart — the retailer with the lowest satisfaction score of 68 on a 100-point scale.
With shrinking revenues, Sears attempted to consolidate by spinning off Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores a few years back, and then later its Lands’ End clothing division. The company also announced the closing of 235 underperforming Kmart and Sears stores at the end of 2014.
Rallying Back to Great Customer Service
Despite the negative reputation of its parent company, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores seems to be moving in the right direction when it comes to delivering a positive customer experience.
“In the past, they may have had some issues but they’re using this information to improve upon their experience,” said David Lerner, head of customer success management at Yotpo.
“Reviews for local stores are getting into the hands of the right people to help improve upon their business and processes.”
Using Yotpo, Sears Hometown has integrated customer reviews of local stores on the websites for Sears Hometown Stores, Sears Home Appliance Showrooms, Sears Appliance & Hardware Stores and Sears Outlet Stores.
“Customer feedback is key,” said Lerner. “Sears is generating some, but we’re helping them to get more, and to get the most value out of it.”
By integrating Yotpo with Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores’ e-receipts, the company offers customers an easy way to provide feedback about their online and offline shopping experiences.
The verified content is then made public to visitors of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores websites via the Yotpo site review widget.
“The purpose of the integration is to make review information clear, visible and transparent to customers,” said Lerner.
He also stressed the importance of making reviews accessible for consumers who are searching for local stores.
A Proactive Approach
According to Buckley, the Sears team takes reviews seriously, and reaches out proactively to fix any issues that customers have with their purchase or experience.
“All reviews left on sites we monitor are addressed by our store and customer service teams,” he stated.
“We reach out to customers who have had a less than optimal experience in one of our locations to try resolve any issues. We have seen the effectiveness in this strategy first and foremost in being able to provide better customer service but we’ve also seen that some customers have gone back to their original review and modified it, improving our overall online brand sentiment and reputation.”