August 21, 2015
It’s no secret that one of the biggest drivers on customer loyalty is great customer service. When customers feel as though you are doing everything you can possibly do to enhance their experience they keep coming back again and again. Added to this, the word of mouth implications of great, and awful, customer service are huge. Researchers have found that someone who receives good customer service will tell between 2-3 people about their experience. Could you imagine being able to double, or even triple, the amount of potentially loyal customers you get through the door. On the flip side, the same research also found that people, on average, told 10-12 of their friends when they received bad customer service. That’s a lot of customers you could be losing before anyone even sets foot in the door. So how can you ensure that you’re making your customers experience as positive as possible?
Be Friendly and Approachable
Being friendly and polite to all customers is a great way to make people feel welcome as soon as they walk in the door. Making a customer feel comfortable in your shop is extremely important as this can be what separates you from your competitors. When a new customer comes into your shop, acknowledging them with a smile and a hello can make them feel instantly at ease and welcome. If you know the customer, you can use something more personal than hello, such as their first name, if you know it.
It’s also important to always be available to offer assistance. Personal assistance is one of the few advantages that physical shops have over internet shopping so make sure you use it to its maximum potential. Offering your expert advice to customers allows them to make an informed decision about what is best for them and they will be encouraged to keep coming back when they know they can find exactly what they want at your shop.
Use and Value Your Feedback
Feedback is one of the best tools you have when you want to know what makes your customers tick. Both positive and negative feedback is really important as it tells you exactly what you’re doing well and where you can improve from the only perspective that matters, your customers.
You can also make sure it’s as easy as possible for customers to give you feedback. Using technology can make this very easy, so promote customer feedback on all your social media channels and via email. Some customers might not be so tech savvy so it’s also important to allow people to communicate to you in store. You can even ask your customers directly for feedback to gain insights from the average customer.
Once you get feedback don’t fail to take in on-board. One of the biggest turn offs for customers is feeling as though they are being ignored when they offer sound advice, but it can also make a customer feel very valuable when their ideas are taken on and implemented. If a customer gives you negative feedback, acknowledging this criticism and doing something about it may be able to salvage a potentially loyal customer. At the very least you will avoid losing another customer through the same mistake.
Always Be as Helpful as Possible
A great way to build up a strong reputation in customer service is to treat every single customer the same. Whether they are simply browsing or looking to buy half the store (on reflection, it might be wise to go above and beyond if they’re looking to buy half your stock, but the point is valid), make sure all your customers are given the same level of care and enthusiasm.
I once had a personal experience of this when I was browsing telescopes out of pure curiosity as I waited for a friend. I currently have no use for a long sighted telescope but that’s not to say that I won’t be in the future or that I don’t know anyone who would be interested. But when I mentioned to the sales assistant that I probably wasn’t going to buy anything I was made to feel like a time waster and unwelcome. The sales assistant could have sparked an interest in me or gained a future customer, but instead, turned myself and all my interested friends and family away, and to his competitors
Know What Your Customers Want
Another way to improve your customer service is by looking at your business from the perspective of your customers. If you were a brand new customer entering your shop for the first time, what kind of service would you expect? And how would you want to be treated?
Ask yourself some key questions such as, do I feel welcome? Are the staff doing everything they can to help me find what I’m looking for? And, would I come back here again or try another competitor instead?
It might be a good idea to role-play with your employees or send in a test customer. Find out what efforts are made with customers when they come into your business and this will give you a great idea about what you do well and where you can improve. You can also do some field research in your competitor’s shops. Find out what they do well and adapt this to your business to improve your own customer service.
Train Your Employees
Finally, you should make sure that your employees know what it means to provide top quality customer service. The chances are that you, as the business owner, are more conscience of the level of customer service your business provides. It is therefore important to make sure that your employees clearly know what is expected of them by keeping them regularly updated on the company’s brand values.
Encourage your employees to provide the best customer service possible by rewarding employees who consistently receive positive feedback or to those that demonstrate they are taking on the advice they get from any negative feedback, and use it to improve their service.
You can also improve your employee’s quality of customer service by getting them more involved in the business as a whole. Encourage them to get involved in some decision making and let them feel as though they are actively contributing to the business. This will give them more of an incentive to provide great customer service as they are more invested in your business.