When it comes to increasing revenues, your retail’s best weapon is your customer service. While you might be tempted to focus on increasing prices or even dropping prices on certain products as loss leaders to get people in to buy other items, you’re better off making sure you deliver the best experience for your customers possible.
Why bother improving customer service? It can increase customer retention by as much as 42%. We’ve all heard the adage about how it’s cheaper to retain a customer than get a new one, so these practices, which require minimal time or financial investment, can provide exponential rewards.
1. Surprise and Delight Customers with a Gift
Have you ever ordered a product online or even bought something in a store and found a little something extra in the bag or box? You probably thought well of that brand as a result.
Little bonuses are a great way to show your customers that you appreciate them, which only makes them want to come back and buy from you again. Here are a few ideas:
- Sticker or other (useful) branded promotional item
- Inexpensive product
- Product you’ve had trouble selling
- Exclusive high-value coupon
2. Make Sure Your Employees are Happy and Empowered
It might seem counterintuitive to focus on your staff if you’re trying to make customers happy, but realize that your employees are the front line in dealing with customers. If they’re bored or miserable, that’s the message they’re portraying to customers.
On the other hand, if they love their work, that will shine through. It’s been said that happy employees make happy customers.
You’ve probably experienced both of these scenarios:
In Store A, you walk in and aren’t greeted by a sales associate. When you look to find someone help you find an item, there’s no one to be found. You think you see someone skulking in the corner, avoiding eye contact with you. You walk out, frustrated.
In Store B, you’re immediately greeted by a cheery sales associate. She asks if she can help you find anything. Minutes later, you have what you need, you check out, and she wishes you a good day.
Clearly, those are two disparate examples, but they’re based on reality.
Part of making your employees happy is empowering them to make decisions on behalf of the company. Rather than requiring a sales rep to have to get manager approval for a return or deal with a customer complaint, empower her to make the decision that will improve the customer’s opinion of your brand and get her coming back without costing too much.
Here’s how to make your employees work harder for you.
- Pay your employees what they’re worth
- Work with them on meeting scheduling requests
- Talk to them, and show them that you appreciate them
- Let them make decisions about how to make customers happy
It takes so little to make people happy, if you’re willing to put in the effort.
3. Don’t Skimp on Tools That Help You Connect with Customers
Certainly, you don’t like spending money on your business unnecessarily, but realize that sometimes when you cut corners, it’s at the mercy of customer satisfaction. While there may not be a need for a fancy and costly phone system for your retail store, using your cell phone (especially if coverage is spotty in your location) might not be the best move.
If you find yourself having trouble hearing callers or having dropped calls, you’re essentially losing money. Every call could be a potential sale. Voice Over IP (VoIP) systems are a good middle ground between fancy PBX systems and your cell phone. They work over your internet and have advanced features like routing calls and the ability to be integrated with customer relationship management software.
Speaking of software, inventory management is another area where you shouldn’t skimp. While 10+ years ago you had no choice but to manually take inventory every month or so, now there are point-of-sale systems with inventory management baked in.
How does this improve customer service? You’ll never be out of a product if you stay on top of inventory levels, and since they’re tracked with every purchase, you have to do little except order your next shipment. Having products in stock is a sure way to keep customers happy.
- Invest in software that makes it easier to serve customers
- Train your staff on how to use it effectively
- Assess other ways where financial investment could improve customer service
Improving customer service doesn’t require a hefty investment. It’s often just about seeing your business from your customers’ perspectives and then exceeding their expectations.
Read more from Jay at fitsmallbusiness.com
Also published on Medium.