When you run a small retail shop, your customers are at the heart of every decision you make.
There might be a lot of debate surrounding ‘the customer is always right philosophy,’ but there is no debate about this: You need to provide truly excellent customer service to keep shoppers coming back.
Take a look at these 25 retail customer service tips to keep your patrons satisfied.
1. Focus on the Customer in Front of You
We have all been there. The phone is ringing, you may have online orders to fill, and there’s a line of folks that need to be checked out at the register. Juggling responsibilities comes with the territory when you own a small business. That said, no one is more important than the customer waiting to be attended in your shop. All it takes is a few angry customers and passive aggressive Yelp reviews to dent business sales. So when in doubt, put the phone caller on hold and focus on delivering a stellar in-store experience.
2. Go the Extra Mile
If your customer wants something that they can’t find in your store, offer them options. Head to that back room to look for those cute boots in size 8, even if you’re pretty sure they’re not there. Offer them a rain check or the opportunity to order now and enjoy free delivery when the item restocks. Even if they turn you down, most customers will remember the extra effort.
3. Improve the Checkout Experience
Long wait times and an unpleasant checkout experience will hurt business sales. Unfair queuing systems, confusing in-store experiences, and long lines are bound to leave a sour taste in your customers’ mouths. Use clear in-store signage so that customers know where to stand in line, form lines around checkout aisles to encourage last-minute purchases, and adopt processes and tools that can help you bust through long lines during peak business hours.
4. Introduce Employees and Customers by Name
In today’s retail world, you literally have seconds to connect with customers and make a good impression. If you need to turn over a customer to another employee, introduce your co-worker by name and make sure you use your customer’s name as well. Referring to others by name during a sales interaction makes the experience feel personal, building a connection that’s hard to break.
5. The Magic Word: “Thank You”
Of course, you want to thank customers when they complete a purchase. But that’s not the only time you should be saying “thank you.” Show your appreciation to everyone who visits your establishment, whether they make a purchase or not. Did one of your customers recently make a huge purchase? Send them a personal thank you email, or drop a thank you note (with a discount for future purchases) in their bag or mailbox.
6. Stay Present Without Hovering
As a retailer, you have to strike a careful balance between being helpful and being overzealous. Customers want you to be available to answer questions, open a dressing room, or ring up a purchase the second they’re ready — but they don’t want you hovering over them as they browse. The secret? Keep yourself busy straightening shelves, and use your peripheral vision to wait for that moment when your customers start looking around.
7. Never Turn Away from an Approaching Customer
There’s no excuse for turning away from a customer. It doesn’t matter if the phone’s ringing, you’re about to start your lunch break, or you really need to run to the restroom. If a customer is approaching you, smile, greet them and offer your services. If you absolutely have to step away, make sure they’re clear on who else is around to support them or how they can get your attention when ready.
8. Create a Comfortable Break Room for Employees
You might be wondering how this has anything to do with excelling in customer service — the happier employees are, the more productive they are likely to be. Your employees work hard, and they’re on their feet for hours at a time. They deserve to take their breaks in a space that’s comfortable and truly relaxing. Small changes like providing a comfortable chair or two and stocking snacks to keep your staff’s blood sugar from dropping, can reenergize an employee who’s having a tough day.
9. Be Discreet if a Customer’s Credit Card is Declined
Very little is as embarrassing or stressful as having a credit card declined in public— Everyone’s eyes turn on you, and you’re left worrying whether your bank account has been hacked. If this happens to one of your customers, it’s a “do unto others” moment. Think how you would feel, and respond in a way that doesn’t draw too much attention to the situation. Inform them that there is an issue with their credit card and ask them if they would like to opt for another payment method.
No one wants to be waited on by a grumpy or condescending salesperson. According to a study on the hidden benefits of smiling, waitresses who smiled made more tips that non-smiling waitresses. If you make smiling a priority in your retail shop, you’ll create a welcoming atmosphere for your customers.