What Defines Good Customer Service in Retail?
“Customer is king” is an oft-repeated mantra, and there’s a reason for that. Without customers, your retail business wouldn’t exist. It stands to reason, therefore, that how you treat your customers has a direct impact on your bottom line. Happy customers come back for more and tell their friends, and that’s how your business grows.
Follow these 9 quick yet important tips to ensure you do a sterling job with your customer service.
1. A friendly face, well-presented
Greet customers when they walk into the shop and adapt your style of greeting to each individual (for example, mature customers may prefer a more formal greeting). Say goodbye to them when they leave the shop, thanking them and encouraging them to come back soon.
Look the part: wear a clean, well-ironed uniform, and look as though you’ve made an effort with your personal appearance. Scruffiness is a poor reflection on the business; good personal hygiene is vital, whatever role you’re in. Wear a pleasant – but not overpowering – cologne or perfume.
2. Be there when they need you…
If a customer needs help, they shouldn’t have to wander around all over the shop to find it. Make sure it’s obvious where you are – even if that means saying “I’ll be around here if you need any help” when they first enter. Otherwise, they may give up and go shop elsewhere.
3. …but don’t overstep the line
Some customers just want to browse, and feel uncomfortable being hassled by hovering sales employees. Try to be sensitive to how much help a customer wants; be proactive in offering help without being annoying. That counts for trying to upsell things, too.
By all means suggest a product that naturally accompanies what the customer is buying or something that you’ve got a special offer on, but don’t pressure a customer into buying an item they don’t want.
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4. Know your products and stock inside out
It’s no use being there to help customers if you don’t know the answers to their questions. Build up a comprehensive knowledge of all the products in your shop, including the pros and cons of different brands offering similar products. If you’re out of a particular item, make sure you know when you’re next going to be getting some in. Being a human library of product information helps you build a reputation for your shop as somewhere that customers can turn to for help if they need it.
5. No negative vibes
Negativity can put customers off instantly. Whether it’s a personal problem, an annoying noise or simply that your footfall is slow today, keep these thoughts to yourself. As a sales representative, you won’t give a good impression of the business if you stand around looking bored or absorbed in your own problems.
What’s more, if a customer asks a question to which the answer is “no”, don’t just leave it at that – follow it with a positive. For example: “we’re expecting more of that product in on Tuesday – would you like me to put your name down for one and we can contact you when it comes in?” There’s huge potential to improve your bottom line with this approach; it encourages the customer to return, so you might still get a sale even if it isn’t immediate.
6. If something’s wrong, fix it
If you see a product in the wrong place on a shelf or that’s fallen off, don’t ignore it – put it back where it belongs. Such attention to detail keeps the shop clean and tidy, giving the right impression to your customers. Likewise, if you notice something wrong with a product your customer is about to buy, point it out to them at the till and replace it. They’ll be delighted that you did: you’ve saved them the hassle of finding the fault when they get home and needing to return for a replacement later.
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7. Remember Regular Customers
People love to be remembered, and a hallmark of superb customer service is remembering customers who’ve shopped in your store before, and ideally what they bought too. This allows you to open with a more personal greeting, such as “Welcome back Mr Roberts, how are you getting on with the new…?” It shows that you care – that you remember – and makes your customers feel valued.
8. Be discreet
When necessary, be discreet. For example, if the customer is buying a product that they might be embarrassed about, keep your voice down so that other customers can’t hear. If their card is declined at the till, enquire about an alternative payment method quietly, so that the customer doesn’t feel humiliated. If they experience uncomfortable emotions in your shop, it’s unlikely that they’ll come back.
9. Good manners cost nothing
Finally, good manners are probably the most important aspect of dealing with each and every customer. Treat each person with the same politeness and respect at all times, no matter what they look like or how they behave. Even when a customer is rude to you, being rude yourself will only add more fuel to the fire.
Don’t natter with your colleagues while you’re serving a customer, or within earshot of customers. Build a reputation for polite, helpful staff and you’ll find that customers not only keep giving you their custom, but also tell their friends to try you as well.