We all know how tough it is in retail at the moment – you may well ask, when is it going to get easier? Unfortunately we all know it won’t! Online competition will only get more intense, shopping habits are forever evolving and technology is going to have a big influence on shopper’s experiences.
Against this backdrop, you’d think that every physical store would be all over the basics of customer service, ensuring that the customers who have graced them with their presence enjoy an amazing experience. Sadly it’s not the case, and it’s often the basics that are missing. These basics earn you the right to not only sell the customer what they came in for, but provide them with additional information that leads them to buying more than just one item.
With a lot of stores facing flat or even declining traffic counts, their ability to increase sales comes from selling more items to the customers who are already in the store. One of the key KPI’s for all retailers, increasing the number of items per customer.
However before you get there, customers want these things to happen:
1) Stop the task you are doing and approach the customer. Continuing with a task and making the customer wait, tells the customer that your task are far more important.
2) Acknowledge the customer when they come in. It sounds so simple but often done so poorly. You can’t jump on customers when they first walk in or ignore them for too long. A simple greeting will often be enough to find out if that customer wants help or not.
3) Get rid of any lines that say “Can I help you?”, “Are you happy browsing?”, etc, and simply replace these with a greeting. These two examples (and the many other variations I hear) sound as though the customer is an intrusion.
4) If the customer responds with “I’m just looking” to your greeting, it’s best to acknowledge that and depending on how they say it (cue read body language and tone of voice) you can either ask “was there anything in particular?’ or you could say “no problem, my name’s Roger, if you need some help just let me know.”
5) If the customer has said they are just looking, make sure you keep an eye on them so you can reapproach. Customers give you simple clues by picking up products, looking around for help, this is the time to go back over to them.
6) Listening is the key to getting sales. No amount of closing techniques will get you the sale if you haven’t listened to the customer in the first place. Listening, by asking open ended questions, provides you with the key insights you need to find out what problem the customer wants you to solve for them. This information allows you to use your product knowledge to guide the customer to the product that is right for them, not the cheapest or even the one they thought they needed.
If every retailer could just get these six basics right more consistently, they would increase their chances of converting lookers to buyers, increase items per customer (and therefore sales) and provide an experience they can’t get online. This is what great retail is all about.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.