“There is only one boss. The CUSTOMER. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Exceptional customer service can (and often does) mean the difference between a dicey reputation, and repeat customers who send referrals your way. Chances are you’d prefer for each and every customer to leave your store with a full shopping bag on their arm and a smile on their face.
You’re on the right track!
You want happy customers, and you want every member of your team to work toward that goal, too.
5 Strategies for Winning at Customer Service
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means...to your customers.
If you’ve worked in the retail industry for any length of time, you’ve probably come across one or more #impossible customers.
You are knowledgeable.
You are friendly.
You are courteous.
You are right.
Despite your ninja-level retail skills, you may come up against a business curveball: the customer is clearly in the wrong, or a disagreement defies easy resolution. When this happens, keep your cool. Respect your customer’s position, and if it is within your ability to do so, cater to their wishes. Unless your customer has broken the law or causes perpetual problems for your business, don’t break up with them over a temporary snafu, such as a merchandise return or exchange.
Don’t Confuse SERVICE with SALES.
According to differencebetween.net: “The main aim of a sale is selling so as to generate profit. A service, on the other hand, aims at supporting new and old customers...in order to increase customer satisfaction.”
“Can you help me?” is a commonly asked question in a retail environment, and the answer to this question will often result in a sale. But if there’s one thing people loathe, it’s getting a sales pitch when they’re reaching out for help, instead of the service they desire.
Sales Person: an individual focused on solving the primary need of the business — making sales.
Customer Service Specialist: an individual focused on solving problems for the customer.
When you hire new associates and train your staff, encourage a customer service focus, rather than a sales focus. This perspective is about relationship-building and offers long term growth potential, rather than an in-the-moment single sale.
If customers don’t receive positive, attentive service (don’t stalk them — just pay attention!), they can just easily purchase the products they want and need online. Convince them you offer the right products, at the right time, with incredible service at no extra charge.
Educate and Inform.
Even a customer who knows exactly what they want, is likely not an expert on the features and benefits of a particular brand or product type.
That’s where you come in!
Become an expert on the brands and merchandise you carry, and be prepared to offer helpful tips to inquisitive shoppers, whether that information is designed to help them choose what to buy, or care for an item they purchase after they get home.
For example, if you carry T-shirts or other apparel, familiarize yourself with fabric blends; understand the difference between regular and combed ringspun cotton; know about fit and style — Fitted vs. Boyfriend Tee, Raglan, Hoodie, V-neck, Round Neck; get to know the colorway of each collection, so, if a customer says, “My mom loves pink,” you’ll know where to look.
Keep a running list of frequently asked questions as a team, and make sure every associate can give an informed answer to the questions that come up most often.
A hearty YES beats a bummed out NO any day of the week. It’s fun to say yes! And when you empower your employees to respond in the affirmative as often as possible, you’ll earn a stellar reputation with your customers.
As the owner or manager, the path to YES is much clearer for you, and there will certainly be times a member of your team must clarify or confirm how to respond to a specific situation. Train team members on typical scenarios they’ll encounter and let them know when they can respond with a yes, and when they need to bring in a supervisor or manager to decide.
Employees, especially those who are younger or new to your business, need encouragement and ongoing training when it comes to offering their best yes. Work to build trust with each member of your team, and when a stumbling block arises, talk about it one on one or in a meeting, sharing ideas of how to handle a similar situation in the future, and ways you might be able to turn a, “No, sorry” into a “Yes! Definitely,” next time.
One way to build confidence as you work toward maximum YES is to practice alternatives to a yes, which include:
Let me find out.
Great question! I’ll check in our system.
We’ve sold out of that style in your size, but I’d like to help.
I’m not sure when ___ will be back in stock. Let me look that up!
Great question — let me check with ____, my manager.
I’m glad you asked! Give me a moment and I’ll find out.
It looks like we don’t carry ____. May I show you ____, instead?
You’d like to make a return? I’m here to help.
This one’s simple. Be sincere. Initiate real conversations. Ask for and use your customer’s name to humanize the interaction.
Every single customer brings with them an opportunity to earn their business, whether they buy from you today, or enjoy the interaction and come back to purchase another time.
Say, “thank you,” in person. Say, “thank you,” in email. Thank people for coming in as they leave — whether, or not they made a purchase
Something Team Kerusso® has learned over 33+ years in business: The biggest and best customer service opportunities arrive not in pretty packages, but as hot messes that require patience, a steady smile, and firm resolve to solve the problem and offer a solution that not only serves, but delights, your customer.
That’s how you earn customers for life.