What Is Good Customer Service In Retail?
Love Your Customers... and the Money Will Follow
The good news for retailers.
There has never been a better time to be a specialty retailer. The Boston Globe recently published a study with some very good news for us. They polled consumers and found that more than 85% of people preferred to shop at their local stores.
It’s true – customers want to shop with you! You have a face, you can remember their names and what they like to buy, you can make them feel special.
The bad news for retailers.
The bad news is that your customers don’t have to shop with you. Anyone with a credit card and a computer or a telephone can sit at home in their old bathrobe and bunny slippers and buy absolutely anything – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, of course, there are the ever-present Wal-Marts and other “big box” superstores of the world giving you a run for your money!
In short, there are outstanding opportunities for store owners today, but you had better deliver the goods. If you don’t get good customer service tips someone else surely will and your customers will just quietly slip away.
I know of only one sure-fire, never-fail, super-profitable strategy for battling the big boys. Always put your customer’s wants, needs, and desires first.
Love Your Customers...
What is good customer service in retail? Marketing genius Jay Abraham puts it this way, ‘The secret to success is to fall out of love with your product, service, or store, and fall in love with your customers.’ I call it “The Big Switch.”
When you make "The Big Switch,” all your business decisions suddenly revolve around what’s best for your customers, not what’s most convenient for you. Your store hours will fit your customer’s schedule, not yours. Your product assortment will reflect what you customer likes, not what you like. Your store policies will be written with your customer’s best interest in mind. Your return policies will be generous, and not restrictive. Your staff will be thoroughly trained so your customers get the same great service from everyone in your store that they get from you. The list goes on and on, but it all starts with making “The Big Switch” and looking at everything you do through the eyes of your customers.
When you make “The Big Switch” you will stop looking at your customers as a single transaction, someone standing at your register with a credit card in their hand, and start looking at your customer as a person with whom you have a deep and meaningful long-term relationship.That person in front of you with a credit card is not a transaction, it is someone who, if you nurture your relationship properly, will bring you thousands of dollars of business, will send their friends to your store, and can make a significant contribution to the success of your business.
...and the Money will Follow.
Here's a good retail customer service tip: When you love your customers, the money will follow. By putting your customer’s needs, wants, and desires first, you will dramatically increase the “lifetime value” of that customer - the total amount that person will spend with you over their life as your customer. When you love your customers and nurture your relationship properly, they will shop with you more often, spend more each time they shop, stay with your company more years, and send their family, friends, and colleagues to your store.
Let me share my personal “Ah Ha!” experience with you – the moment when this strategy was permanently embedded in my brain. I was working on the sales floor of my store, the Mackinaw Kite Co. (a kite and toy store) helping a young-ish grandmother pick out some gifts for her five grandchildren. Always one to do a little market research when the opportunity presented itself, I asked her how often she would be shopping for gifts for her grandchildren. I thought I was asking about the number of times a year she shopped, or on which holidays she shopped for gifts.
But her answer stopped me dead in my tracks: “FOREVER.”
Of course! She would indeed be shopping for gifts for her grandkids forever. Now, my eyes must have glazed over as my mental calculator started whirring. She had five grandchildren, and there were at least three gift purchases a year that I could count on (birthdays, Christmas and Easter), and our average sale was about fifty dollars...that’s $750.00 a year. And she would probably be buying gifts for at least another fifteen years. In an instant, this woman was worth nearly $12,000.00 to me, not just the $29.99 she was plunking down at that moment.
I knew then that I had to do everything in my power to love this customer and keep her coming to my store for as long as she was buying gifts for her grandchildren. My goal? A customer for life.
My challenge to you today is to make the “Big Switch.” Fall out of love with your product, service, or store and fall in love with your customers. Thats what good customer service in retail is. Make it your goal to create customers for life. We’re all in business to make money, and the surest way to make money is to love your customers. Remember, love your customers and the money will follow.
Wishing you great sales and lots of fun,