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4 Tips for Improving the Convenience Store Guest Experience


Follow these tips for getting customers to pull into your convenience store parking lot instead of the competitors down the street.

The days of most customers stopping at a convenience store to simply pump gas or grab a bag of chips and a soda and be on their way are becoming a thing of the past. Today, convenience store customers expect many of the same kinds of items and services they would find at major grocery and restaurant chains.

“Years ago, convenience and fuel retailers were mostly competing among other similar brands for patrons, primarily focused on location, price, and ensuring staple packaged goods were in-stock,” said Cameron Watt, CEO of mystery shopping company Intouch Insight, in an article at Convenience Store News.

“Now, c-stores have become so much more than a pit stop and are actively competing with other industries like quick-service restaurants for prepared foods, coffee shops for morning joe, and even grocery stores for pantry items.”

As a result, convenience stores must enhance their customer experience to keep up with and stay ahead of competitors, according to Watt.

Read on for four tips on enhancing the convenience store customer experience.

1. Offer a loyalty program

According to a recent Intouch Insight survey, 94 percent of consumers belong to loyalty programs — yet nearly half haven’t signed up for a convenience store loyalty program, according to Convenience Store News.

Customer information provided upon enrolling and purchase history can help convenience stores personalize the guest experience through targeted marketing.

“The study also indicated that having a loyalty program was third behind location and price for selecting a store to visit, which means there is an opportunity here,” Watt said. “Once you have a loyalty program in place, it allows you to combine it with your customer surveys to drive ongoing two-way communication with your customers, which is a very powerful tool.”

2. Provide consistency

“C-stores must be consistently aware of how customers are experiencing their forecourts, stores, apps, and purchases via third-party vendors to ensure they know where and how they’re stacking up against the competition,” said Watt.

“Too often, brands focus on making a big splash or quickly rolling out a new offering but fail to quantify how it may affect their customer experience across all offerings.”

3. Maintain an attractive forecourt

If you want customers to pull into your convenience store instead of the one across the street, you must stay on top of keeping an attractive forecourt that’s clean and offers ample lighting, cleanliness and other aspects that make customers feel safe and trust your brand.

4. Proactively seek customer feedback

Seeking customer feedback through the loyalty program, survey and other digital channels such as social media and your brand’s mobile app or website can help convenience store chains compare different locations against each other to measure how each is delivering against customer standards, according to Watt in the Convenience Store News article.

“Typically, a simple web-based survey is utilized through which you can also incent your customers to provide their contact information for additional follow-up,” said Watt.

“Providing that you do not abuse the access and use the communication to motivate a response, the interactions can be not only positive but also loyalty building.”

To motivate customers to provide their opinions, let them know that their feedback will help the store improve and direct its services to better satisfy customer needs, recommends Watt. Your c-store can also offer incentives such as extra loyalty rewards, coupons and discounts for completing customer surveys.