“Between August 2018, when the tablets were installed, and March 2019, Shoe Station customers logged 111,000 feedbacks. That is phenomenal. That is learning our customer.”

Randy Lambert, Director of Stores, Shoe Station, Inc.

Shoe Station Makes Sure Customers Have More Than Just Happy Feet

Shoe Station is one of America’s largest independent shoe retailers, with 21 stores in five southeastern states. They employ 500 people and serve millions of customers online and in their 25,000-square-foot self-service stores.

Randy Lambert, Director of Stores for Shoe Station, Inc., was curious about a Smiley Terminal he spotted in the Atlanta Airport. “I wasn’t sure what it was at first but quickly figured it out. It’s pretty simple. I took a picture and when I got back to the office I showed it to our president and founder, Terry Barkin. He agreed to try Smiley Touches (the tablet version of the classic Smiley Terminal which offers additional data insights) in five stores, a mix of good performers, middle performers and stores that needed improvement.”  

Two weeks later the company added Smiley Touches in all 21 of their stores. “The results were amazing,” Randy said. “We had thousands of inputs pouring in from customers each week.”

Abundance of Real-Time Feedback Put to Work in Real Time

In a few short months Shoe Station has collected 111,000 customer feedbacks, exceeding their wildest expectations. Management uses the data to spot, investigate and remedy any signs of customer dissatisfaction. The founder is still president of the company and combs through the data every Monday. He shares insights and ideas with store managers, fueling a continual feedback and improvement loop.

The Smileys have helped Shoe Station to:

Achieve unprecedented feedback levels
Improve and measure customer satisfaction
Build team excitement over customer opinions
Measure manager performance

Randy wasn’t sure whether store general managers would embrace the technology. Would they see it as just another way for customers to complain? Or for the company to tell them what they were doing wrong? But they kept an open mind and soon saw the value.

“Now the managers enjoy seeing their overall scores and how their performance ratings gradually improve,” Randy said. “They understand that it’s a tool that really helps them understand where their issues might be at any given time.”  

“I have the HappyOrNot app on my phone and I can see customer comments within seconds,” Randy said.  

And the results are terrific. Since rolling the Smiley Touches into their stores, Shoe Station has improved happiness by 14%.  While it’s too early to draw a line between that and sales, Randy and HappyOrNot will be watching this carefully, but all agree the signs are good. Studies show that happy people buy more – 45% more.

Meaningful Manager Performance Metrics

Shoe Station believes so much in the accuracy and value of the feedback reports that the results are used in store manager performance evaluations. Since company president embraces the system and reviews the reports every Monday, he is able to discuss with managers how they can put feedback to work. After all, what’s good for the customer is good for the manager. Now, what’s good and what is not can be quantified.

Randy knows that by capturing anonymous feedback he hears from people who would never share their experience. People typically don’t enjoy getting in someone’s face because the restroom was dirty, a line was too long, or the cashier seemed irritated. “The majority will not say anything,” he said, and if they type an email to the corporate office there is little chance they will get a reply.  

Customers quickly understand the Smiley Touches and, because they are so easy to use, Randy said they tap the buttons on their way out of the store “without even breaking stride.”  

“Between August 2018, when the terminals were installed, and March 2019, Shoe Station customers logged 111,000 feedbacks. That is phenomenal. That is learning our customer,” Randy said.  

When Shoe Station spots a red flag on their dashboard, they are able to identify the precise time and place an unhappy episode occurred. They find corresponding store video so they can get a more detailed and accurate view of what transpired, whether it was a rude employee, a rude customer, or a long line at checkout.  

Reports Enable Immediate Improvements on the Floor

Any good executive will want to know if its investment has yield real-life change for the better. Randy shared that, in one recent instance, real-time feedback revealed a disconcerting dip in customer satisfaction. For several days in a row an otherwise good happiness quotient during the day went off a cliff at around 4pm. What was so magical about that time? After investigating the pattern, Randy said, they found that the handoff from the day crew to the night crew wasn’t a smooth one. In fact, the baton was dropped. Day workers were leaving 15 minutes early and night workers were arriving a few minutes late, leaving a store short-staffed for as much as 25-minutes during a busy period.

Keys to Success

What made things work so well at Shoe Station? In this customer story it came down to three factors:

  • Championship

    The Director of Sales’ commitment and belief in the system, and his engaging with managers as feedback started pouring in, has been critical to its success and effectiveness.  

  • Good Habits

    Because key players in the company, from the president to the store managers not only pay attention to feedback but take steps to improve lower scores injects the system into the company’s DNA.

  • Accountability

    As managers know they will be measured on customer-generated scores, they are far more certain to take steps to improve they every day. Seeing improvements in scores – especially when acknowledged by leadership – is classic positive reinforcement where it matters most.

About Shoe Station

Shoe Station is a family-owned chain founded in 1984 in Mobile, Alabama by Terry S. Barkin. It continues its commitment to the Southeast U.S., employing more than 500 individuals in the region. While ShoeStation.com does a brisk online business, Randy Lambert, Director of Stores, said the company remains committed to brick-and-mortar because of the interaction with customers and the insights the share. “We want to keep that going,” he said. Shoe Station provides almost every men’s, women’s, children’s, and athletic shoe imaginable in a wide selection of sizes and widths. And all at competitive prices.