Consumers are fed up with companies that treat them poorly. Without quality customer service and with the sharing capabilities provided today through social media, you could be steering a sinking ship.
Customer service affects all levels of your retail operation, and everyone involved needs to have the same mindset and follow the same policies. Take these steps to keep shoppers satisfied.
First, work on establishing the "people" aspect of customer service. This means the interaction between your employees and your customers.
Here are the basic policies you should establish and enforce:
- Courtesy is king. All customers should be treated in a courteous manner at all times. This may sound obvious, but we've all experienced the rude salesperson who snaps or loses their patience quickly. There is no excuse for being rude to a customer, even an irate one.
- Be professional when on the sales floor. All employee breaks and personal business should be conducted out of the view of customers, and cell phone calls or other personal communications should be limited to lunch or breaks.
- Go the extra mile for a customer. A conscious effort should be made to assist a customer in finding what he or she needs and/or in resolving a problem. If there is a policy, it should be stated politely. There is no room in customer service for "attitude."
- Dress appropriately. Employees dealing with customers are expected to present themselves in a professional manner and dress accordingly. This can range from a uniform to a dress code to a no T-shirts, jeans, or halters policy. Whatever works for your business should be enforced.
- Develop rapport with the regulars. Encourage your staff to get to know regular customers, greet them when they come in, and make them feel comfortable. A simple hello, good afternoon, or thank you can go a long way.
- Have resources readily available. There's no better way to kill a sale then being unable to find what you need. From shopping bags to tape for wrapping packages, make sure to maintain your inventory.
- Train and retrain. It is very important that you train your staff in the manner that you want them to interact with customers and conduct themselves while on the sales floor. Since it is human nature to slip and revert to bad habits, to retrain occasionally allows for new ideas and reinforces positive conduct. Work with your employees, use role-play, and seek out their input. The more involved they feel in creating the policy, the more pride your employees will take in providing quality customer service.
- Don't let your staff become slaves to your computers. We've all stood in long lines while sales people and cashiers swiped cards and input tons of data into a computer terminal. Streamline your process to the best of your ability.
The layout of your store or facility has most likely been carefully planned, as has the manner in which you conduct business. All employees should be well trained and knowledgeable about the products. This can, and often should, include cross-training your staff to work in various departments. Likewise, cashiers should handle sales from all departments. By doing so, you can eliminate the need to shuffle customers from one person to another. You can also move idle employees to departments where they are needed.
Such training should begin immediately after a new staff member is hired. For tips on training new employees, read How to Welcome Employees on Board.
Finally, you should make it easy for your staff to provide quality customer service. Remember, customer service comes from the top down. If you treat your employees well, they will pass that goodwill along to your customers.
The ultimate goal of good customer service is a happy, returning customer. Most businesses rely on their returning customers for 80 percent of their business, and it's less expensive to maintain an old customer than to attract a new one. That's why quality customer service boosts the bottom line.
Now that you know what to do, read Top 10 Customer Service Mistakes to find out what not to do.