How To Deal With Customers In Retail – While there are many things that can affect the in-store experience (e.g. products, prices, store environment, etc.), customer service will always be one of the main factors that affect how shoppers find your brand.
You may not be able to influence the weather or control your competitors, but the level of service you provide is entirely within your control. That’s why you should always be cooking about to wow your shoppers.
How To Deal With Customers In Retail
Now I understand that advice can be vague. (What exactly do I mean by “improve customer service”)?). So, to help you consolidate this concept, I’ve put together a handful of real-life examples and action steps to take your retail customer service to the next level.
Examples Of Good Customer Service In Retail (and How To Apply Them To Your Stores)
Good customer service means meeting the needs of your customers in a timely, efficient and pleasant way. Customer service can mean many things, depending on the environment. In retail, it can mean directing shoppers to the right part of the store or assisting them with a product problem.
In retail, examples of good customer service include remembering and appreciating returning customers, creating a local connection with shoppers, making good use of your product knowledge, and more.
Surprise and delight are key elements of your customer service and retention strategies. Return customers are the best types of shoppers to have and they are greatly appreciated by retailers who remember them.
One of my favorite examples of this in action comes from T-We Tea, a tea shop in San Francisco. I’ve bought from them a few times, and with my previous order, I found a sweet note that read, “OMG, Hi Francesca! So lovely to see your name come up! We really miss you here but we know you always do epic things. things!”
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It was a nice gesture and certainly not something I get from other retailers (even the ones I shop with regularly). Because of this, T-We Tea will always be one of my go-to places for loose leaf tea.
Track your return customers – use a good CRM that allows you to record customer details – ie. Contact information, purchase history and birthday, among other things.
Put that information to good use – Once you have their information, make sure you use customer data to better serve shoppers. For example, if you see an order from someone already in your database, confirm them for the second purchase and send a note of sincere gratitude.
Vend’s customer relationship management tools make it easy to personalize the shopping experience. Build customer profiles, add notes and track their purchase history, so you can make relevant and timely recommendations.
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Sending welcome messages to new customers is common practice in online retail, but here’s something you don’t see every day: a personalized video message thanking the customer for their first purchase.
Magic Mind, maker of the popular productivity drink, does just that. When I made my first purchase with the company, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a personalized video message from Rebecca, one of the Magic Mind team members.
Not only did she address me by name, but she took the time to tell me a little more about the brand and the results Magic Mind customers have achieved.
Come up with personal ways to welcome new customers. Like Magic Mind, you can choose to record personalized videos to make shoppers feel at home. In some cases, a tailored tone or phone call may be more appropriate.
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Be creative. See what your competitors are doing to engage new customers and make sure your strategy is better.
When you sell online, problems with shipping and delivery are the territory. Between missed deliveries, damaged shipping and delays, there are a lot of problems that can arise.
That’s why it’s important to closely track customer orders and ensure that their products reach their hands safely and on time. If something goes wrong, stay ahead of the curve by contacting shoppers immediately (rather than waiting for them to contact you) and try to rectify the situation.
This is what the food delivery service Yumbl did when the courier experienced delays in delivering the meals. Instead of doing nothing or waiting for shoppers to get in touch, Yumble proactively emailed customers about the problem and even issued a $10 credit to compensate for the inconvenience.
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If you sell online, build a system that allows you to keep track of the status of customer orders and shipments. If something goes wrong, stay ahead of the curve by proactively reaching out to shoppers rather than waiting for them to contact you.
Great customer service starts the moment people walk through your doors. Make an amazing first impression by offering a solid greeting to your customers. Avoid a cookie cutter message like “Can I help you?”. Instead, tailor your greeting or take the opportunity to serve and get to know them better.
A great example of this can be seen in Francesca’s, a boutique clothing chain. I went to their place in Los Angeles, and was immediately recognized by the associate. He asked for my name and offered to free my hands from the shopping bags I was carrying.
Consider doing something similar in your store. Make your greetings in such a way that each customer feels special.
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Read our guide on how to greet customers in retail – it’s full of tips and scripts on what to say when shoppers walk through your doors.
– Already read this post? Discuss new customer greetings with your team and start using them in your store!
Is there a customer looking down a little? See if you can cheer them up. Sometimes, this can be as simple as smiling at them and giving them a sincere compliment. At other times, you might crack a joke or tell a story to cheer them up. The right approach varies from one customer to another, so be creative with your approach.
We see this in action at Trader Joe’s, when the workers break into song and dance to stop a small child’s tantrum. Check it out below:
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Keep an eye out for customers who aren’t having the best day – as long as they’re not rude or obnoxious, find a way to cheer them up.
Although the best way to deal with out-of-stocks is to avoid them altogether, you can turn an unpleasant situation into a positive one with the right customer service.
Here’s a great example of a real Canadian superstore. A customer decides to use the store’s click and collect service by ordering her goods online and then choosing to pick up her purchases in store.
According to her Instagram post, some of the products she ordered were not available, so a superstore employee called her and offered substitutes.
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The entire experience was smooth and efficient, and the customer was so happy with Real Canadian Superstore’s service that she took to social media.
Have a backup plan for stock – When a customer asks you about a product that is not available, make sure you have a better answer than “Sorry, but there’s nothing we can do.” Always be ready to recommend substitutes so you don’t miss the sale.
Offer to ship from your store/warehouse – You could also offer a service where you order an item from another location or channel (ie your online store) and ship it to the customer for free.
I was buying a drink from a local cafe, and the cashier behind the counter noticed that I was holding a business card from a nearby Bram Treading place.
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It was a short meeting, but certainly a memorable one. I was delighted that the cashier made a connection by referring to something local that we both liked.
The effort didn’t take much, but it went a long way in terms of customer service. Why? Because so few people do it. Most cashiers call sales and pick impersonal lines like “how was everything?” or “Have a nice day.”
Don’t be one of them. Make the checkout process as pleasant as possible by making an effort to connect with the customer. Doing so may be the very thing that keeps them top of mind and keeps them coming back.
Be on the lookout for commonalities – find a way to connect with customers through things you have in common. Do you have similar tastes? Do you frequent the same local spots? Use common things to start conversations.
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You don’t always have to push a sale – in the example above, the cashier and I were chatting while she called me at the counter. I was already a paying customer, but she still tried to contact me. Try doing something similar in your own store. Don’t just chat with a customer because you want to make money from them. Do this to build a relationship.
Connecting with customers starts with how you greet them. If you need ideas on how to greet shoppers in our store, this post offers 20+ examples of retail store greetings you might want to try.
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