Your store’s personal culture is the defining factor for your salespeople as well as your customers. It defines the behavior of your salespeople and, by effect, the happiness of your customers. If you do not set the culture of your store, you will not have good customer service.
- 3 out of 5 customers will try a new company based on purportedly good service
- 80% of retailers believe they have SUPERIOR service
- 8% of the customers agree that they have SUPERIOR service
- 65% would cut ties with a brand over one bad customer experience
The key here is consistency of customer experience. If a customer returns to your store based on a previous experience and your salespeople can maintain that original level of service, you will never lose a customer. But one negative experience can lose a customer forever.
How many of you have fired a company? It feels good to say “NO MORE” as a customer; it’s satisfying to symbolically defend your right to choose.
As owners, we have to get really uncomfortable when consumers fire us. We have to do something about it! Customers cannot have a single negative experience in our stores.
There are a series of moves you MUST do to ensure customer service excellence; four people you must become, as an owner, to ensure excellence in customer service.
1. Politician – A politician stands on the corner and tries to win votes, to earn the trust and belief of the people. You must set the course for the idea of excellent customer service. Like a politician who drums excitement for his role, you have to create the excitement for great service. You set the standard. This is important: you make the case for it and lead by example. It all begins as an internal marketing campaign. After all, if you are not doing it, then it is not being done. It all begins with with emotion. If you express that belief and commitment, your staff will follow. Prove to your salespeople that customer service matters above all else and that we will make sacrifices to ensure a great customer service experience. What is the most powerful thing you have done to communicate this to your staff? Calling and attending store meetings is a great place to start. You need to be present and show your employees that customer service matters.
2. Accountant – You should become the head of Customer Service Accounting. With a measurement mindset around customer service, you can accurately evaluate the customer satisfaction. Take, for example, email capture rate. What does it measure? What does it say when a customer doesn’t want to give their email? If a customer denies a request for email, it means a series of things: I don’t trust you, I’m not engaged enough and I get too many emails and yours is not going to be important to me. If, on the other hand, they willingly supply their email, that means they enjoyed their experience in your store and intend to return and stay in touch. It means you did your job correctly! By keeping track of these numbers, it’s easy to see where you can improve If you can’t understand what is happening in your store then you can’t engage.
Rather than look at storewide numbers, break it down by employee. You must look at it individually to create accountability. You cannot improve what you do what you do not measure. By measuring metrics on an individual level, you can pinpoint problem areas and fix those issues on a personal basis.
In most cases of customer dissatisfaction, management actions (or lack thereof) were directly responsible for the bad situations. If you as an owner are not measuring customer service metrics, how can you know that you have good customer service? Measuring and evaluating customers will lead to greater customer service. Your easy tool for this is you POS system; that simple computer stores all the numbers you need to fully understand your business. Perhaps you excuse is that you’re too busy, that you don’t have a way to collect it, it’s not a function in your POS, that the cashier doesn’t want to… These are all generic excuses with easy fixes. If we are going to make customer service a priority understanding the metrics of your store is the first step. And when it seems difficult or taxing, remember that competitors are out there with data to take our customers.
3. Policeman – No one likes this one. As a manager, policing your staff and store creates accountability. Measurement is nice, but the next step is about expectation and accountability. Being a manager and actually managing your store is the key in the customer service excellence! Its why the manager works the floor—you’re able to keep an eye on every aspect of the store and prevent customer service stumbles. You are the inspiration for the staff; you set the example and enforce the guidelines of customer service.
Take, for example, returns. Why do customers return products? It didn’t fit, it was defective, they found a cheaper alternative, they didn’t get the right thing or have an opportunity to try it on. In all of these situations, the return could have been prevented with great customer service during the first interaction. Look at return rates per salesperson in order to identify problem areas and help return that salesperson to their best self.
Remind your salespeople of their diligent commitment to listening to customers. How else can we listen to our customers? Read their reviews online and social media. Customers love to talk about their favorite products and share their negative and positive experiences; we need to take advantage of their passion for sharing.
4. Grandpa and Grandma/Grand Parent — How is that a role? We all know that praise often goes further than punishment. When you notice a salesperson practicing good service, reward them people who and make it a BIG deal. This is a specialized retail job, it’s not easy. We have to be the one to hold that person up when they get it right. You must have a systematic approach to rewarding good behavior; rewarding at random can set a dangerous precedent. Instead, embrace a general culture of rewarding great service. Include a Wall of Fame or Employee of the Month in your break room. Be specific and authentic. When you notice progress or improvement it should be rewarded, on an individual basis as well as storewide. For example, a handwritten letter to the manager and the staff from the president of the company when your store has a 20% increase in sales from the previous month, which is then framed in the back of the stores. It not only rewards the staff immediately, it inspires them for months to come.When you add value to the salesperson’s role, that will in turn lead to pride in position and employee retention, as well as improvement in customer service. You are the Grandparent—you notice when someone does well and you reward them.
Now, for the negative.
1. Bad Habits, like clutter, failing to greeting people, and an ineffective cash wrap.
If you hire someone with experience and do not train them with your own store’s guidelines, you have hired bad habits. It may seem easy to hire someone with similar experience elsewhere and not train them—an easy way to skip a step—but you must train them to your standards. Training out bad habits is hard, but worth it. You create a strong sales force united with one vision.
2. Peer pressure.
80% of your best customer service and highest sales come from 20% of your salespeople. Shadowing is NOT a good training tool; if one salesperson trains a new member of the team in a poor, ineffective way, it is almost impossible to un-train them. You do not want a mere peer in the store setting the standards for customer service. Reset the culture! Do more for new employees and get more from them.
No one will deny it: the public can be demanding and rude. Of course it’s hard to be energetic all the time, so let’s schedule with this in mind. A sales floor leader is vital to bringing and keeping the energy. Constant energy is bottom line of great customer service.
4. Poor Management.
Finding the right manager is essential to successful retail If you have one, give them a hug! They are invaluable. Think of a good manager as Guardian of the Circles. He or she walks in all three circles: circle of the staff, circle of the owner and circle of the customer. If you don’t have good management, you don’t have good customer service or any uniting factor for all aspects of your store. Retail it is, admittedly, a hard job. But this is not just retail; this is life-changing.