Good customer service can turn a startup retail into a booming business, with a client base that grows exponentially. Contrarily, bad customer service can harm a business to the point of bankruptcy. Modern POS (point-of-sale) systems will usually include features to help accommodate the sales related needs of your customers. A well designed POS system should provide easy functions for returns, replacements, layaways and more. Customer service done properly will always increase your the size of your customer base. A government funded study revealed two important facts about customer service:
- The average customer with a complaint tells 9-10 people about it.
- Customers whose complaints were addressed and resolved, told at least five people about the positive experience.
It does not take a mathematician to see the enormous impact customer service has on a business. Consider if five customers have a positive experience in a retail store in one day. They each tell five friends about their experience who also come into the store, are greeted with a smile and helped above their expectations and then tell five friends about the store. From five customers, this store now has 125 loyal customers and continues to grow.
Having first-class customer service is a relatively inexpensive investment in your business. Here are some the most successful businesses' tricks of the trade:
Practice the Simple Rules of Courtesy
A “please,” “thank-you,” and a smile can turn an average, every day visit into a pleasant experience where the customer leaves the store happy, will be back and will tell friends and family about the store.
Answer Phone and Respond Quickly to Messages
As a general rule, there is no phone message or email that is too insignificant to receive a quick response. Sometimes it is easy to forget that there is a customer on the other end of an email address. Use the same courtesy in an email as you would use when talking to a customer face-to-face.
Do not make promises you are unable to keep. If you tell a customer a product will be delivered at 2:30 on Monday, make sure it is done. Reliability makes a big difference to most customers.
Know Your Products and Policies
Make sure that everyone helping the customers are educated on the products or services you sell and on the store policies as well. The only thing worse than not knowing the answer is misguiding your customers on their purchases.
Be Helpful Even if There is no Immediate Profit
Let us pretend that you go into a ski shop to purchase a replacement part for a binding. The shop does not sell the replacement but happens to have one in a bin of mismatched parts. When you ask how much they want for it, the clerk replies “Don’t worry about it.” The shop does not make any money that day off you, but do think you will go back in the future?—we would.
Keep Accurate Records Readily Available
Good records are critical when accessing return policies, warranties and customer’s past transactions. They also come in handy when trying to remember names and past interactions. A good point of sale system can store all of this information and you can access it at the click of a mouse.
Give More Than is Expected
A customer should always feel as if they received more than they expected. Even if all they received was a smile and a “have a nice day,” a note thanking them for their business or a phone call to ensure the car was fixed properly.
Build a Relationship With Your Customers
A well-known jeweler uses the slogan, “Now you have a friend in the diamond business.” Would not it be nice if your customers felt like they were buying from a trusted friend versus just another store?
Address complaints quickly and to the customer’s satisfaction. Keep in mind that arguing with a customer over $5 may cost $100s of dollars worth of future sales.
Listen to Your Customers
Listen to your customers so they do not have to explain their problem more than once. Additionally, read emails thoroughly before sending a generic response that does not fully address the issue.
Start Sooner Rather Than Later
It is much easier to start good customer service practices while your business is still small rather than trying to change years of bad habits. Integrate the small details that make a big difference into your business’ customer service plan. Walt Disney, the founder of one the world’s most successful businesses known for its customer service, kept this in mind when he said, ”I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse.”