So, er – what’s your customer’s experience?

J. Rook

Jennifer Rook, VP, Communications and Marketing

By JENNIFER ROOK, MRA Vice President, Communications and Marketing

Hope you don’t mind my little play on a Jimi Hendrix’s lyric. I’m a big fan. We’ll save music talk for another day.

Right now, I suspect you have other things on your mind.

Variants. Supply chains. Hiring. Year-end numbers. Keeping your staff happy. The encroaching holiday season. And customers.

The good news is things are definitely different than this time last October. But business owners across all sectors are doing more with less (see Tom Clement’s Legally Speaking column for more on this subject). For those of you who look to the last quarter as an opportunity to end the calendar year in the black, the question becomes – what are you doing to ensure a good experience for your customers?

In store. Online. In office. Over the phone. All these interactions count. I’m not saying anything here that you don’t already know.

As a marketer, I devote a lot of time to understanding the customer experience from a first interaction, to what leads to a purchase, and how we keep customers coming back once that happens. Lately, us marketers been calling the customer experience “CX” and obsessing over a processing that maps out the “customer journey” noting ways a business can interact with customers that are both meaningful and memorable. Many of you probably work within the same framework if you use an online marketing tool.

Regardless what we call customer interactions these days, it all comes down to two things: Are they happy and will they tell a friend?

Because we are heading into that time of the year where customer service and experience reign supreme, we dedicate this issue to ways that enhance your customers’ experience. In our feature story, Are Your Customers Happy, I interview a mystery shopping expert Lindsay Dahl of Shopper’s View who shares what caught the eye of mystery shoppers over the past 18 months into a pandemic.

We also highlighted three business owners who all approach the customer experience a little differently, Gemmen’s Home & Hardware in Hudsonville, Bivouac in Ann Arbor, and The Cheese Lady that now has seven locations around Michigan: Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Traverse City, Farmington, Rochester and Fenton.

Gemmen’s was named Ace Hardware’s “Coolest Hardware Store” out of more than 5,400 locations around the globe. Celebrating 50 years now in Ann Arbor Bivouac owner Ed Davison recalls the early days of creating what is now revered as a local institution. Lastly, we visit Heather Zinn in this month’s In Her Own Words to learn how Zinn was able to take her passion for local cheese and build it into a multi-location tasting experience.

In our service sections, we cover why multi factor authentication (MFA) can help guard your business against a cyber-attack, and ways to enhance your workers’ comp. claim filing process that saves time and headaches.

Lastly, as we go to press with this month’s issue, we will be celebrating Buy Nearby Weekend (October 1-3) all over Michigan in the hopes it drives more business and more attention for the importance that retailers pay in Michigan’s economy. Check out our infographic that illustrates this point.

Whether “the customer experience” to you means a happy patient, a referral, or a positive online review, all of us here at MRA practice our version of CX by finding ways that help your business run as smooth as possible. Happy October!

If you have story ideas or news about your business, send me a note at: We’d love to share it!