Increase Customer Retention By Creating Memorable Experiences: The Five Senses

There is a restaurant in suburban Denver, Colorado that has reached legendary status simply because of the customer experiences provided there. People wait in long lines to pay for sub-par food just so they can get inside and enjoy the atmosphere. A windowless building has been transformed into a small village with shops, a jail where you can have your picture taken, games, live music, puppet shows, and cliff divers. Yes, cliff divers inside a building where people serve food. There are actually tables within the splash zone.

If the food is sub-par, the lines are long, and there’s a chance you’ll be splashed while you eat, why do people who have been tell their friends to go? It’s all about the memorable customer experiences they’ve had and want to share.

Obviously we don’t recommend selling a sub-par product, but this restaurant provides an example of what we mean by memorable customer experiences.

We’ve already discussed how kindness that goes beyond customer expectations provides a memorable experience, but what does it look like to create a retail customer experience day in and day out that is memorable enough to build brand loyalty and increase customer retention?

This part of our series on memorable customer experiences and customer retention will look at three categories of things you can do every day to provide the best customer service experience you can: the five senses, technology, and education. Today we discuss the five senses.


visually pleasing

The more senses someone has engaged in an experience, the more vested they are in that experience. In a society as visual as ours, visual aesthetics are a given. Your retail displays should be eye-catching, your space clean and easy to navigate, and your employees well-groomed and comfortable making eye contact. Similarly, your website should appeal to the visual senses, especially since that’s often the primary sense you reach online.



You can also alert a sense of hearing online using video or audio feeds. Most people have music on in the background as often as they have the opportunity. What mood or environment does the music you play set? Does that mood fit the persona of your customer base? For example, if you sell paddleboards and create a video to demonstrate the product, the background music on the video probably wouldn’t be Beethoven. However, a wine seller who caters to a more upscale crowd may benefit from playing classical music.


smells good

The sense of smell is the sense most closely linked to memory. This is where the Internet begins to be limited and an in-store experience wins. Think of the smell of your boyfriend’s cologne, your grandfather’s cigar, or your mom’s cookies baking. On the flip side, you can probably just as easily recall the smell of a locker room, burnt popcorn, or rotting garbage. What do your customers smell when they walk in the door? Does your clothing store smell like mothballs or freshly cleaned laundry? Does your restaurant smell like baking bread or rancid fish? Be careful not to overwhelm your guests with candles or spray fragrances, but be aware of how the smell of your store impacts their memory of the experience.

Taste and Touch

sense of touch

Taste and touch are two other senses that cannot be replicated online. For this reason, samples and hands-on interaction with products make it worth it for customers to come in to the store. This is why you see senior citizens in warehouse stores dishing out taste tests and why industry conventions offer vendors exhibit space. No words can aptly describe the texture of a fabric, the taste of marinara sauce, or the exhilaration of the burst of flames at a hibachi grill. Some things must be experienced in order to be understood. How can you incorporate this fact into your customer experience? Which of your product offerings lend themselves to hands-on encounters? For example, how memorable would it be for a young athlete to go home from a sporting goods store with the code to download a GIF of how he swings baseball bats of different lengths and weights?

Even educators will tell you that the more senses you engage, the more likely an individual will be to remember the experience. Feel free to use the comments section below to brainstorm ways to incorporate each of the five senses into your retail environment.

Next: Using Technology to Create Memorable Experiences

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