Why Getting the Basics Right is Critical to Growth


I find it fascinating that retailers are often searching for the next thing to wow customers when they can’t even get the basics right.

By basics I mean the following:

  • Acknowledging customers within a prompt time frame – not as soon as they walk in as that seems desperate and pushy, but not too long so they feel ignored. Too many times customers walk in and around and out without being acknowledged.
  • A genuine smile, with eye contact and a greeting – a frequently missed opportunity, as this simple step is often overlooked. Customers will often feel as though they are an interruption to the staff member’s day if any of these steps are missing.
  • Asking questions to find out what the customer wants – often the questions asked are minimal and customers can feel as though you are trying to sell them what you want, not what’s right for them.
  • Suggesting additional items that will enhance the customer’s purchase – one of the biggest areas that are done poorly, yet a massive opportunity to grow sales. By asking questions and listening to the customer will provide you with simple clues of what to also suggest.
  • Positively promoting your loyalty card – all too often customers aren’t even asked if they have one, let alone being provided with the benefits for them.
  • Offering a friendly and professional farewell – in my opinion, the key to getting customers to return as it’s the last thing they hear. Offering a genuine and varied farewell tells the customer you have connected with them and care and it’s not just about taking their money.

The best team members you have, consistently provide this level of service each and every day. Unfortunately, there is a big challenge with consistency across various stores under the same brand. In some the service is great, yet in others, the above steps are missing. This leads to frustrated customers who can easily take their business elsewhere.

How important are these basics?

According to a global study by customer experience expert Verint, (a New York-based analytics company that sells software and hardware products for security, surveillance, and business intelligence), the basics are critical. According to their research 81% of customers just want the basics in place every time. “Getting the basics right is clearly an important element for success. It all starts with setting clear standards for customer operations and rolling them out across the whole workforce” says Graeme Gabriel from Virent.

I find that most retailers have these expectations set but they are not reinforced on a regular basis. Team members are exposed to these steps during induction and then they are often forgotten about. Ongoing reinforcement through coaching and re-training is critical if you want your business to master the basics.

You can’t move to the next level if you can’t get the basics right.

The next level is where the magic happens – that is doing little things that the customer doesn’t expect. This is when the wow factor comes in and you enlarge your group of promoters who help you grow your business.

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” 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.