Julian Richer: Richer Sounds – CEO & Founder
Interview with Customer Experience Leader Julian Richer, CEO and Founder, Richer Sounds
Richer Sounds is a company which has been built on a solid culture under the guidance of CEO and Founder, Julian Richer. Posting its highest operating profit in its 37 year history in 2014, Richer Sounds has held true to its values and continued to grow its cult following within a highly competitive market. As a result, the brand has moved up 18 places in the Customer Experience Excellence rankings in 2015, into 4th place.
Prior to the release of the 2015 UK Customer Experience Excellence Analysis we spoke with Richer Sounds CEO and Founder about his company’s success and unrelenting focus on the customer experience.
- Julian, what do you think has driven your success in the customer experience?
JR: I think a key factor is that we recruit colleagues who love music and movies as well as for their natural friendliness. We don’t employ people for their high-pressure sales skills; we choose team members who are friendly, enthusiastic and genuinely passionate about home entertainment. That means that our sales teams have something in common with our customers straight away, which makes it easier to build a rapport.
- Your brand particularly stands out within the industry for Personalisation and Time and Effort. What do you think drives your customers to rate the business so highly for these pillars in particular?
JR: We treat customers like we would do our friends and family, with the aim of building a long-term relationship. We ask for feedback at every step of the customer journey and we listen to what they have to say, no matter whether the comments are good or bad. I personally respond to all correspondence, and ensure that all colleagues are accountable, from store colleagues wearing name badges to directors responding to specific issues raised. Because of this, we’re constantly evolving based on customers’ needs.
- Has the business made any investments over the last year to improve your customer experience? (eg. investments in employees / infrastructure / technology / new products)?
JR: Our colleagues spend many hundreds of hours a week learning about new products, which has ramped up considerably over the last year.
We have also recently worked hard at developing relationships with, and visiting, customers at their homes or places of business in order to offer a much more comprehensive and bespoke service.
We have also expanded our install facility, so we can now offer customers a complete home entertainment solution – we can now advise, demonstrate, sell and install equipment, all at Richer Sounds’ legendary low prices.
- How is customer experience governed within the business?
JR: Customer service is at the heart of everything we do, and influences pretty much every business decision. As such, we work hard to maintain standards with a rigorous quality control program. We empower our colleagues to build relationships with customers and work hard to ensure our in-store teams treat our customers as real people with individual needs, rather than reading from a ‘one size fits all’ sales script.
- How would you describe the culture of the company?
JR: We’re a diverse team, united by a passion for music and movies. Our stores contain a remarkable number of budding musicians, DJs, scriptwriters and film critics. Each of our stores has a lot of autonomy – they are encouraged to support local events and respond to local demographics, on the basis that someone in Cardiff (for example) has a better feel for the immediate community than someone in London or Stockport, where our two Central Support offices are based. We encourage colleagues at all levels to innovate and improve the business by submitting their ideas, and have one of the most successful suggestion schemes in the UK.
- What’s next for the business to continue on the journey of Customer Experience Excellence?
JR: We believe in constant improvement, so it’s very satisfying to have risen from position 22 to number 4 on this survey. Getting recognised for customer service excellence is very gratifying, but we know we can’t rest on our laurels. We’re constantly appraising what we do, and looking to enhance our customer service offering. I’m not sure where the next innovation will come from, but I’m fairly certain it will be from a colleague or customer suggestion.
For more customer experience insight download the 2015 UK Customer Experience Excellence Analysis.