Does customer service still exist?
Well the Holiday season is here and stores are decorated, stocked and ready with lots of great merchandise and gifts. It’s the busiest time of year for most people, and when they hit the shopping scene they are looking for a well-seasoned sales staff. I tend to visit the stores that have the best customer service because my time is limited and I have lots to accomplish in a short time. One of my favorite stores this time of year is Nordstrom, simply because of their exceptional customer service. Unfortunatley not all stores have this level of service and many retail clothing stores are under staffed and you can’t even find someone on the sales floor.
I’ve spent over 30 years in the fashion & retail world and its one area that I fully understand how important your sales staff is. After all, your sales people are the face of your company, and first impressions are sometimes the most important ones and can make or break your business. When a customer enters your store they must always be greeted with a friendly smile and a sincere “hello”. When your helping a customer you should make that customer feel like they are the most important person in the world, regardless if they are buying a pair of socks or a thousand dollar handbag. All customers should be treated equal. A positive customer experience is the most important aspect of a successful business. From the moment they enter your establishment to the minute they get back in their car, every second counts and will determine if they come back.
With online retail growing more and more every year, retailers with physical stores seem to have let their customer service decline and as a result it has impacted the customers shopping experience and they lose their customers to online business. I believe that stores need to step up their game and gain back their business by offering excellent customer service and a positive shopping experience for clients.
My recommendations for providing your customers with an excellent shopping experience.
- Make sure when your customers arrive at your store that all the physical details of your store are in place.. Ex: overall cleanliness, lighting , music & temperature in the store.
- Greet your customers ASAP when they enter your store, perhaps by first name and preferably with a smile. It shouldn’t take minutes to greet someone, even if your in the middle of a transaction, a quick hello lets them know you see and acknowledge them & is also a good security measure to observe everyone.
- Immediatley stop doing “other things” like putting stock out, arranging the floor, using the cell phone, talking with friends or other employees. That stuff can wait till the customers are not in the store.
- Engage with your customers before you start pitching merchandise. Perhaps compliment them on something they are wearing or find out what the reason for their shopping is.
- How do you send off your customers? Do you let them just walk out? Or take their name , address or email and ask if its ok to keep in contact with them regarding new merchandise that arrives or a special sale your store is having. Remember, regardless if a customer buys something or not, you still owe them 100% of your undivided attention and thats what keeps them coming back and referring your business. Its not the amount they spend that makes a great customer, its how they think and speak of the shopping experience that you provided for them. Building long lasting relationships with customers makes a retail establishment successful.
Working in retail as an associate you surely will see the very best and worst of customers behaviors so hiring the right staff is so important . They need to be immune from any judgement or attitude towards shoppers, and be trainable. If they cant handle this, then clearly don’t hire them.
I loved all the many years I’ve spent in retail, I enjoyed meeting and catering to all my clients, which many of them I am still dressing from back when I was 15 years old, & just starting out in this business. If you love helping people then retail can be a very rewarding occupation.