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Bragging is usually regarded as a less-than-admirable quality in a person, but I actually enjoy hearing people blow his/her own horn. Excessive self-importance turns me off, but I like to hear people share their pride in their accomplishments. It can be a fine line.

Hearing people cross that line when they're bragging about the company they work for or the stores where they shop is music to my ears. There is no better advertisement, or more effective recruiting method, than a bragging customer and/or employee.

When someone is bragging about your store(s) you can be sure you're doing a lot of things right. As a matter of fact, getting the people who work for you or shop with you to want to brag about you is the result of the same actions. Here are five elements that contribute to your store's bragability.

1. Making an emotional connection. People take pride in being a part of it. It's not "a" store, it's "my" store. When your employees and your customers feel that connected, it's easy for them to extend your mission and experience beyond the store. If you want your customers and employees to brag, you need to first show the love.

2. Surprise and delight. As humans, our ability to remember things helps us to survive. If you don't believe me just forget your spouse's birthday or your anniversary. The downside of our memory is that new things quickly become old or the routine. That's why constantly finding new ways to surprise and delight employees and customers is so important. Never underestimate how much small wows add up to a WOW worth bragging about.

3. Consistently exceeding people's expectations. Surprise and delight aren't the only ways to exceed an employee and customer's expectations. Things like anticipating needs, simplifying work and shopping, and remaining focused on delivering the best possible work and shopping experience are vital to creating bragging moments.

Remember this: You rarely exceed a customer's expectations unless you set out to do just that.

4. Don't disappoint them. People are disappointed when you fail to meet their expectations. It sometimes happens that people's expectations are higher than you can or are willing to meet but more often than not, disappointment results when you take your eye off the customer or employee experience.

Let me give you an example. An employee might be disappointed he has to work on a holiday. But if you do something particular to make working a holiday more special, the person is no longer disappointed and ends up bragging to others about how working on the holiday was made special.

5. Regular communication. It's your job to keep reminding your customers and your employees why you're bragable. I know that's not a real word, but it's a real state of mind and it's a great thing to strive for.

You don't want customers to have to come into the store to remember why they brag about you. Remind them with newsletters, social media, cards, and calls. When done well, that results in even more bragging!

For employees, communication is an essential part of keeping connected and reminding them what's so special about the store/company they work for. Many owners and executives underestimate the power of communicating directly to frontline employees and depend too much on store management to deliver the message to their team. Remember, all company meetings, blogs, memos, and online videos can help create a bragging organization.

So let me ask, how much bragging is happening in your store or company? In which of these five elements can you and your team improve?

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The Retail Contrarian

Latest posts by Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a proven retail and customer experience firm that works with progressive retailers and other customer-focused companies.
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