It has been awhile since I've taken time to post here - - so much for "The Happiness Project" chapter on blogging. But I have been very busy and away from home the past three months - - and away yet another month, working on retail management consulting projects - one in Chicago, one in Michigan.
As with most of the consulting contracts I manage, customer service improvement was the focus of one recent client's goals. When I work with a business that wants to stay in business, rather than one seeking assistance in going out of business, improving customer service takes on critical importance. If you are going to retain old customers, and bring new customers back time after time, how they are treated in your business each and every time they come in needs to be fine tuned.
For businesses seeking my assistance in "Going OUT of Business" we rely on customers returning time after time until all the merchandise on the shelves is sold. If customers are not treated well, if they do not have a good experience, they simply will not come back.
As I train employees, I give them the simple task of incorporating the "3 C's" into their contact with a customer: 1) Contact. Make eye contact; say "Hi"; say "Welcome, we're glad you're here." Have you ever walked into a retail store, strolled the aisles for a few minutes, looked through racks of clothing or shoes or books, then walked out having never been greeted by an employee of the business? Of course you have. We all have. And we were left feeling like "Mr. Cellophane" in the movie "Chicago." Invisible.
2) Compliment. Pay a compliment to every customer who graces your front door. How hard is it to say, "That's a cute blouse." "I just love those boots." With very little effort, we can find something nice to say to every person who walks in the door. Think about it. What you say could change that person's whole outlook for the rest of day. Later in the day, maybe as she is pulling the covers up and snuggling into bed that night, she may remember the feeling she had when you said something nice to her when she walked in your store eight hours earlier. And your investment: 0. And here is the big bonus - you'll feel great when endorphins are released in your brain after doing/saying something nice to someone else.
3) Courtesy. Perform a small courtesy for every person who walks in your business. "May I clean your rings for you?" "Can I hold your packages behind the counter so you can shop easier." "Let me hold the door for you." Just a simple courtesy can make a person feel much better about their shopping experience in your business. And that good feeling is what will bring them back.
Be genuine when performing the the 3 C's. Your customers will know it - and so will you - if you are not sincere in your remarks. So there you have it - - my simple start to improving customer service in any retail business. Give it a try where you work - you will see an improvement in sales - and in the way you feel at work every day.
Retail Management Consultant.