brands recognize the importance of online customer service. They're
investing time and resource into learning and understanding how to
use online channels to deliver stellar service to their customers.
about good ol' fashioned, in-store, face-to-face customer service?
omni-channel age, we sometimes find – as consumers – that the
brands we feel deliver flawless, feel-good experiences on the web,
fall short of these standards in person.
a real financial imperative to brush up on your in-store service if
you can. It's reported that poor service costs U.S. brands
billion each year
– and 65%
of consumers say they've cut ties with a brand over a single poor
customer service experience.
article, we'll list 10 customer service essentials and talk a little
about how to encourage them in your store!
a warm welcome
customer service starts the second your customer walks through the
door. You don't want to crowd or intimidate your customers – but a
smile and a friendly greeting go a long way towards making them feel
welcome. This can also make it less intimidating for them to approach
you with questions or concerns.
expert Bob Phibbs writes that greeting
customers is a good way to differentiate from your competition and
He advocates making statements and offering insight instead of asking
questions like 'do you need any help?' This is a great way to open
dialog with your customer without smothering them or giving them the
chance to shut you down with 'No, thanks...I'm just looking.'
product knowledge is a real turn-off for customers. If they ask you a
question, they really expect you to have an answer.
retailer, you need to have an intimate understanding of your products
and what they do. Take time yourself – and encourage others – to
enhance their product knowledge. Consistent training and hands-on
product experience are a must.
sales success depends heavily on maximizing your time spent on the
shop floor, but there are ways to get around this. Many retailers
choose to use tablet devices for their training (the guys at
specialise in providing m-training programs.) This comes with the
welcome added bonus of providing an extra resource to help customers
with visual aids etc. during the sales process.
an old cliché but it often isn't what you say, but the way you say
it. Choose your words carefully when dealing with customers – be
honest, forthright and, above all, positive. Focus on fixing the
problem. Check out this
awesome HelpScout article
for some go-to phrases which will help.
a basic starting point, remember that 'I
is only an acceptable answer to a customer question when it's
followed by 'But
let me find out for you.'
body language and be proactive
are some pretty fascinating stats around verbal and non-verbal
communication. Apparently, as much of 55% of the meaning in our words
is derived from facial expressions – as opposed to just 7% in the
words we actually speak.
language is an incredibly expressive and powerful communication tool
– and we all use it unwittingly.
it really takes for you to harness it as a retailer is a certain
level of attentiveness and proactivity; watching your customers,
understanding their actions and stepping in to help where required.
be able to identify customers who are lost, unhappy, irritated or
confused. Proactively helping them to find what they're looking for
not only puts cash in your register, it delivers a thoughtful and
caring customer experience which will only encourage them to shop
with you again.
pretty much inconceivable to compile this sort of list without the
inclusion of listening. It's a labored point but it really does bear
repeating. You simply can't understand a customers needs or
challenges, without listening intently as they explain it.
you ever wondered why we find it so hard, as human beings, to listen?
Well, studies suggest that, whereas we listen at a rate of around
125-250 words per minute, we're able to think at around 1000-3000.
means that it's easy – and natural – for our thoughts to 'drift
away' from what we're hearing if we let them. The problem is, that's
utterly toxic when it comes to customer service. Think of a time, as
a customer, you've had to repeat yourself, or re-explain an issue.
direct attention to your customer – give them your total, undivided
focus – and you give yourself the best possible shot at
understanding and resolving their problems quickly and efficiently.
interrupt or pre-empt.
the key facts.
notes if necessary.
they're done speaking, respond – and do so positively.
such a critical and difficult skill to master, so it's perhaps
surprising that just 2% of people have had any formal listening
training. Whether you go down the formal training route, or just make
it a core part of your customer service manifesto, make sure that
listening is central to every customer interaction.
adaptable. Be patient.
service is such a mixed bag, and customers will wildly vary in their
approach. Some will be calm and placid, others will be more
'animated.' It's important to be even-handed in your approach,
whichever tact your customer takes.
often repeated business mantra is that the customer is always
right...but one of the most difficult things about customer service
is that you willoccasionally
disagree with their stance completely. It's inevitable. In these
cases it's essential to remain patient and calm yourself. Check out
this article: 7
Steps For Dealing With Angry Customers.
yourself in someone else's shoes
thing with customer
service is, we've all been on the other side of the deal at some
point. A useful exercise is to work with your team and discuss two
different types of customer experiences you've had; a time when you
were totally blown away by exceptional service, and a time when you
received the total opposite.
these through in more detail – isolate what it was, specifically,
that made these such awesome or terrible experiences. This can help
act as a benchmark for how to treat customers in your own store –
and how not to treat them!
that every customer is another person, just like you. Put yourself in
their shoes and consider how you'd want to be treated. You were
probably told as a kid to treat others the way you'd like to be
treated yourself...and this is still a great rule to live by.
Review and feedback
you're standing still, you're going backwards. Great customer service
is a restless science and one that depends on continued reflection,
refinement and improvement. Forrester
research suggests that the revenue impact from a 10 percentage point
improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate
into more than $1 billion.
simplest way to do this is to provide an outlet for customers to tell
you how you did. Customers are your most honest and impartial form of
feedback. Many retailers hand out a card or barcode on the receipt
which links to a website where customers can complete a feedback form
and be entered into some kind of prize draw. This is not only a way
to encourage feedback – it really highlights your commitment to
commitment to service is a vocation – you really have to be
passionate about this. Going above and beyond to deliver for your
customers clearly takes extra time and effort, but – while the
rewards aren't always immediately trackable – they are there.
Repeat business. Delighted customers. Powerful brand advocacy.
simply, you and your team need to care about this stuff. You may
choose to reward and incentivize great service, but, equally, there
are other ways to build a culture of great service in your store. It
needs to be the number one focus.
as you greeted your customers as they entered your store, it's
essential to make sure they leave happy. If you can, thank them for
visiting your store even if they didn't make a purchase. If they do
buy something – and hopefully they will! - give it a quick look
over before bagging it to make sure there are no faults. A simple
quality check can solve so many potential headaches at this point.
Remember to smile and say 'thank you' as they leave'
customer service is a simple science and a lot of it seems like
common sense. But we know that it can often prove difficult to
implement. You're busy, have a task list as long as your arm and the
important thing is your bottom line for the day.
suggest that twice as many customers will tell their friends, family
and colleagues about bad experiences than good ones.
great thing is, fantastic customer service is always going to give
you a competitive advantage. There really are no traffic jams along
the extra mile!