Kohl’s has come a long way, evolving from one department store in Wisconsin in 1962 to serious name recognition in all 50 states and more than 1,000 stores in all but one. Positioned between the higher-end department stores and discounters, Kohl’s adopts – and adapts – from both ends to create their own image and following. On one hand, they feature the likes of Vera Wang and Dana Buchman, on the other, central check-out lanes and racetrack aisles are more familiar to discount store shoppers. It appears they are keeping customers from uptown and downtown on message and coming back for more! Could it be those great ads? Or is it the uniquely pleasing experience of shopping at Kohl’s that made consumers from the recent NRF Foundation American Express customer service survey tie Kohl’s with Nordstrom in the lineup of retailers that “get” customer service? We asked John Worthington, Senior Executive Vice President, to share the company’s secret for this delicate balance and how they plan to keep that balance while growing the company (and continuing to feature Dana Buchman please, John!).
Kohl’s is committed to excellent customer service – as we want our customers to ‘expect great things’ from Kohl’s. We listen to our shoppers and give them what matters to them the most. This includes offering industry-leading policies such as our ‘no questions asked’ return policy, our no exclusions approach to sales and our overall “Yes we can!” motto that empowers our store associates to take the steps they need to make the customer enjoy their full experience at Kohl’s.
Beyond unbeatable policies and great value, our customers also want an easy yet inspiring shopping experience. So, we continue to make significant investments in technologies that create broad efficiencies allowing us to optimize areas of opportunity to better serve our customers, such as minimizing wait time in lines. We also invest in technologies that create customer convenience, such as our new in-store kiosks that are now in all Kohl’s stores nationwide. The new kiosks provide an easy way to order an item from our in-store selection or take advantage of the thousands of online exclusives. All items ordered from the kiosks, whether purchased for yourself or as a gift, ship anywhere in the U.S. free of charge. This is one more assurance to our customers that they will find everything they are looking for when shopping at Kohl’s.
In addition to a great shopping experience, we want our customers to feel good about Kohl’s as a community partner. We support the causes that they care about the most through our Kohl’s Cares philanthropic programs which support kids’ health and education, environmental initiatives and women’s health. We also volunteer in our local communities through our associate volunteer program. Making a real impact in the communities we serve is one more way we show our commitment to our customers.
We know that excellent service, innovative technologies and our community commitment are all part of the overall value of shopping at Kohl’s, and we know that this is resonating with our customers as we continue to gain market share in the industry.
Kohl’s core customers are families. What changes are you making in an effort to introduce Kohl’s to the young single women of America?
Kohl’s is proud to be a family-focused company and we continue to offer the brands, values and conveniences that families enjoy. We’ve also worked to provide world class national and exclusive brands reflective of the most desired trends and styling–such as Simply Vera Vera Wang, LC Lauren Conrad, Fila Sport, Nike, Dana Buchman and many other great brands. These brands coupled with exceptional value and impeccable service–appeal to a wide variety of women, both moms and single women.
As Kohl’s continues to expand, how do you plan to continue to delight your customers and provide the same level of service in the next two decades?
We are committed to providing an exciting shopping experience throughout our 1,089 stores and at Kohls.com. We continue to invest heavily in our stores through renovations, new technology and exciting in-store resources designed to give the best experience when shopping at Kohl’s. In addition to company expansion, with 30 new stores opened in 2010, we also invested in our store base by remodeling 85 stores this year, 66 percent more than 2009. And, we have plans to increase the number of remodels next year. We want to be sure that everyone visiting a Kohl’s store gets a fresh, engaging shopping experience. We also invest in new technology in all of our locations to allow stores to run efficiently so our associates can focus on providing excellent service. Finally, we are consistently looking for innovative customer resources – for everything from fresh product displays which help customers complete a head-to-toe look to our new in-store kiosks, which I spoke about earlier.
We remain committed to keeping service a top priority as we continue to grow. We want customers to shop with confidence at Kohl’s now and in the future knowing that they are getting the best overall value with us.
What mechanisms do you have in place to measure customer satisfaction and the responsiveness of your associates?
We are extremely invested in measuring customer satisfaction, as we believe measurement is a powerful tool in ensuring we keep our finger on the pulse of what the shopper desires and expects, and as such, are constantly improving and enhancing the customer experience. One of our biggest measurement tools is our online customer survey on Kohls.com. The survey focuses on the shopping experience, the level of service they received and their overall satisfaction. We’re pleased to share we had our highest scores in company history, from the more than two million respondents that took the survey last year.
Knowing the value of word of mouth and credibility of an endorsement from a friend, one of the survey questions that we pay close attention to is the respondent’s likelihood to recommend Kohl’s to a friend, and we are currently at our highest scores for this measure ever. This question, and the other 13 on the survey, help us gauge how the customer feels about shopping at Kohl’s and gives us valuable information on where we are succeeding and where we can improve. In addition to our store surveys, we have post-call surveys in our customer service call centers to measure the customer’s satisfaction with how their call was handled.
Even with positive feedback or record scores, we continue to monitor responses closely throughout the year to seize every opportunity to enhance what we are doing well and innovate and improve in areas where we see opportunity. We take all of our customer feedback seriously as we continue to deliver on our promise to ‘expect great things’ at Kohl’s.
How do you recognize associates for outstanding customer encounters?
We believe that our associates’ focus on the customer is the best way to build loyalty. We are proud of our 130,000 associates nationwide and their commitment to service excellence, and we believe that recognizing exceptional service helps breed a customer centric culture. Our associate recognition programs vary from recognition of individual associates in team meetings and store huddles to compensation programs that reward outstanding service.
Our associates’ dedication to customers ensures that we are positioning Kohl’s as the all-around smartest choice and is key to engaging them in a long-term relationship.