Ask yourself why you love your favorite restaurant. Chances are that you frequent a restaurant because they offer great food and a warm ambiance. Comfortable seating and good lighting are important factors also. But what exactly is customer service? Do retailers even know the answer? Is it the warm and friendly greeting, the good food, the charming atmosphere or the comfortable seating? Of course, the successful retailer knows that the answer is all of the above. If you are starting a new business, ensure that your customer service strategy integrates all aspects of your business – staffing, product merchandising, convenience, comfort, store policies and after sales. Because being nice isn’t enough!Have a look at check it out here for more info on this.
Ten more points to remember about customer service:
1.Knowledgeable staff – cheerful and informed – knowing the product is paramount – informed about how the product works; how the item is made and its care; informed about the suppliers; informed about the store policies and its values; informed solutions to customer’s needs and wants; gives expert advice and gift suggestions. If knowledge is power, then empower your staff!
2.Signage – legible price tags and sizing labels – can the customer find the item easily; can the customer “reach” the item and if not, does the signage inform the customer of options. Don’t forget that signage is the silent salesperson.
3.Selection of product – is there depth and breadth? And if not, is the retailer willing to special order for the customer? Does the customer know this? Or does the customer just walk out of the store when the item isn’t readily available?
4.Presentation of the product – is the merchandise presented attractively? Does the presentation tell a story? In other words, does the presentation make a “sales pitch”? Can the customer access the item? Is there a flow to the placement of the product? Does the placement make sense to the customer?
5.Is the customer comfortable and at ease in the store? Is the lighting sufficient? Is the music too loud? Are the aisles wide enough for wheelchairs and baby strollers? Are there seating areas for tired customers? Does the dressing room have a sufficiently-sized mirror? Hooks? Seat? Does the dressing room door lock? Adults may prefer that the door locks, but mothers of small children would prefer not! Does the new mother have an area to change her baby’s diaper? Does the retailer have diapers for that new mother? (Complimentary, of course!)
6.Is “Point of Sale” efficient? – correctly fill out invoices, and check credit cards and handle cash – efficiently – as errors inconvenience the customer and waste time. Has the customer been offered complimentary gift wrap and/or enclosure card? Has the customer been asked to sign the mailing list? Does the customer know the store’s return policy? Has the customer been informed of upcoming sales and promotions? Always ensure that errors are corrected as soon as possible and at the store’s expense. Anticipate the customer’s lack of time (lunch hour, on coffee break, children close by and crying, etc.) and help process the sale as quickly and efficiently as possible.
7.After sale – returns – the savvy retailer knows that to compete with the big box stores a flexible and generous return policy is a must! Handle all complaints by asking the customer, “How can I make this right for you!”
8.Flexible store hours – store hours should reflect the customer’s lifestyle NOT the retailer’s. Those cutesy signs informing the customer that the store owner is “here some days, but not on other days” is annoying to say the least, detrimental at most.
9.Special extras – most retailers assume that the “extra mile” is what customer service is all about. And it is. Unfortunately, most retailers forget about the first mile. The extra mile is all about smiles, and thank you. Extra phone calls, specialty items, special orders, flowers on the counter, coffee for customers, free add-ons, pretty packaging. But the first mile is about the “bones of the business”. It is what your business plan is all about. It’s what you told the bank manager at your initial visit. It’s about the “how.” How will the merchandise look in the store? Where will it be placed? How deep will the shelves be? How many sweaters on each shelf? How many colours and what sizes? Where will the cash register go? How long will the counter be? (because a short counter cannot service the customer well) How many dressing rooms will there be? The savvy retailer knows that the answers to these above questions are all part of the “customer service driven” business.
10.The long good-bye! Retailers often “forget” to say thank-you and goodbye. This is a great oversight. This is an opportunity to shine. A simple “thanks for shopping with us” goes a long way to goodwill and ensuring that the customer feels appreciated. In fact, a savvy retailer always greets his customers and when leaving “shows them to the door”. (After all, isn’t that what a good host would do!) Ensure that a sign is placed on the door that reads, “Thank you and come again!” (Needless to say, carry packages to the car.)