I’m sure it will come as no surprise that customer service is an important part of your business, if it’s done well we have a high chance that customers will come back and best of all tell their friends. What we also know is if we get it wrong our customers don’t come back and are usually quick at telling others and this is bad for business.
In fact how bad? Some recent research (out of the US) from Zendesk stated that US companies lost $83 billion due to poor customer service – this also includes online transactions. That is a staggering amount and although would be much lower here in Australia and NZ, would still be a significant amount.
The research also found out that close to 50% of customers who had experienced bad service would recommend to others not to buy from that company. Yet 52% of customers reported that a good customer service experience was likely to lead to further purchases from that company. I think this spells out very clearly that customer service is critical and if it’s not a focus in your store, it needs to be.
So what is great customer service? To me it’s the difference between being transacted (nothing special, wasn’t memorable) to the customer having an experience (the service stood out from the rest). Most customers don’t actually want too much – how do I know? I’ve spent over 35 years being one, serving them and observing them being served.
If you are a business where customers walk up to the counter (such as a café, bakery, convenience store etc) to place an order it’s about following these basic steps:
- Acknowledge me when I first walk in with a smile and eye contact
- Greet me, but please look at me when you say hello so I think you mean it
- Take my order, repeat it back so I know you’ve got it right
- Ask me for my loyalty card, if I don’t have one talk about the benefits
- Prompt me for other items, such as drinks, special offers, tastings – but don’t do it like a robot
- Hand my change back and the product
- Farewell me, again please look at me so I don’t feel like you’ve got my money and that’s it
- By the way if I’m in a queue let me know you’ve seen me and you’ll get to me soon
If you are a business where you need to approach customer in the store to offer advice (fashion, bedding, pharmacy etc) then these basic steps apply:
- Same as the first 2 steps above, but please approach me when you do this
- Identify my needs by asking me questions about my issues, to find out what I’m looking for
- Take me to the product and explain how the product(s) will benefit me – based on what I am looking for
- Talk about other products that would complement my initial purchase – but make sure they are relevant. For example a belt or top with pants, a mattress protector for my bed, a natural product that could help me stay well etc.
Now there should be nothing in the above steps you and your staff don’t already know – the big test is though – do you do it? With every customer and not just the ones you know or when it’s quiet? Too many times I don’t see these simple steps in place and it’s not because the staff are young as some owners suggest. These steps can be put in place every time if you have the right staff with the right attitude, who want to serve.
The steps above are simply the basics there is more you can add in to make it special to every customer – changing your greetings, customising farewells etc. When I see staff do this well the customer walks out with a smile on their face – will they come back? You’ve got every chance they will particularly if they visit your competitor and don’t get the above.
Roger 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.