According to an article found on Forbes, “Customer service excellence has always been and will always be one of the critical competitive advantages for any business.”
In a modern retail economy where customer service can make it or break a business, exceptional customer service is NOT an option—it’s an absolute necessity.
Yet, some of the most basic customer service practices are being overlooked by inattentive retailers and their staff members. If you want to take your sales and your business to the next level, make sure you’re using the 7 easy customer service tips below in your store:
1. Greet the Customer
“It’s amazing how a simple and effortless gesture can have a huge impact and pay off immediately,” says Retail Wise USA. “It is also amazing how difficult it seems for businesses to consistently and appropriately implement this as part of their customer service practices.”
Retail Wise USA goes on to say that whatever your reasons—or excuses—are, greeting customers is a MUST:
“Greeting is one of the basic functions of communication and triggers positive conversations. It helps us connect to people at a more personal level….A warm, genuine, and sincere greeting can cause even a stranger to open up, break down defensive walls, and be comfortable.”
Your greeting will help form a customer’s first impression of you. So make sure you give them a genuine smile and extend a friendly offer to help them find what they’re looking for. Don’t simply point them in the right direction. Personally walk them to the exact location, and offer some relevant information, as well as a shopping basket and a flyer of your latest sales.
2. Be Observant
When you have customers in your store, you need to be mentally present in the moment. In other words, you can’t be hiding behind the counter flipping through a magazine or texting on your smartphone.
It’s important to be observant and pay attention to what shoppers are doing so you can offer assistance, whether it’s recommending other complimentary items, offering alternative options, grabbing something they can’t reach on the shelf, or helping them out to the car.
Being attentive makes customers feel valued and they’ll be more likely to shop with you again.
3. Call the Customer by Name
Personalization matters. In fact, statistics show that over 70% of customers expect a personalized experience when they walk in the door.
“Addressing customers by name is at the heart of any strategy that values customer experience,” says Qminder.
In Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, it states that “Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
Using customer names humanizes your interactions with them, lending a personal touch to their shopping experience.
For people you don’t know, The Retail Doctor suggests thanking them by name after they’ve completed their purchase by check or credit card. For regular customers, try to use their name in conversation at least three times.
4. Create a Unique & Memorable In-store Experience
As you know, retail competition is fiercer than ever. With the convenience of e-commerce sites and subscription services, consumers have lots of options when it comes to spending their time and money. That means if you want to stay competitive, you have to provide them with some pretty compelling reasons to visit your store.
For example, you could find ways to bring people together in your store by inviting customers and/or community members to special events where they can learn new things, interact with like-minded folks, or enjoy a complimentary beverage and snack.
Alternatively, you could invest in “Retailtainment”, fusing retail and entertainment to provide customers with fun, unique experiences that elevate shopping above the norm, whether it’s using real people instead of mannequins or having a local celebrity come in for photo opportunities with your customers.
On a more personal level, you could use your phone to snap a photo of a customer in an outfit they’re considering and send it to their cell phone so they can look at it again later and show it to their friends.
Whatever you decide to do, the goal is to create a memorable experience that your customers aren’t likely to get anywhere else.
5. Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Connecting with the customer post-purchase is important for improving your credibly, adding value to the product or service the customer bought and providing you with an opportunity to build a relationship that could lead to additional sales, as well as referrals for potential clients. Plus, it gives you a chance to make sure the product is working okay or the service was performed to the customer’s satisfaction.
A sound follow up strategy is always a great way to make a lasting impression and foster customer loyalty.
6. Remember Special Occasions in the Customer’s Life
“The more you remember about customers, the more likely they’ll value their relationship with you and remain loyal,” says Customer Experience INSIGHT.
Sending customers a card on birthdays or special anniversaries, let’s them know you think of them as more than just transactions.
If you’re using a CRM or POS system to keep track of customer information, you can set up alerts for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events so you don’t forget to send well wishes—along with a coupon code or exclusive discount—a few days in advance.
Remember…it’s easier to keep current customers than acquire new ones. Showing a genuine interest in the lives of your customers is a surefire way to keep them coming back to your store!
7. Provide Above and Beyond Service
According to Forbes, small gestures that are never expected—but always welcome—humanize mundane service experiences and result in people talking about them as they walk away.
If a customer is looking for something you don’t have in stock, for example, don’t take the easy way out and tell them you don’t have it. Instead, check to see if the item is on order, offer to call another store, or even go online and order it for them.
“Loyalty is won by going above and beyond—not only by meeting service needs, but also by exceeding them. People expect to get good service — that’s not where the accolades are won. The key is to give people service they will talk about. Take the time to do little things that people will find remarkable, and you will both surprise and delight them every single time.”
Companies that prioritize the customer experience have 60% higher profits, according to statistics found on Business.com.
Showing a genuine interest in the lives of your customers and making them feel appreciated will make your business stand out from the competition. The great thing is, you don’t have to do anything big and extravagant. In fact, you’ll be surprised at how a few simple gestures can improve foot traffic AND increase revenues.
The key is to do something memorable that will make people talk about your business and compel them to share the experience with their friends and family.
Also published on Medium.