Creating a distinguished retail operation can seem daunting to smaller merchants. Whether it’s economic uncertainty or what seems like an entirely new language emerging from the marketing technology du jour, the alphabet soup of all-things-retail is constantly swirling.
Actually, customer service has never gone out of style. In today’s vernacular, it might go by other names, such as ‘customer experience,’ but it effectively means the same thing: providing successful service to customers before, during and after a purchase.
What ‘successful’ service looks and feels like varies among both retailers and customers. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription. The overarching strategy is to provide your customers with a canopy of options that elevates their experience and to treat each customer as an individual who is valued and respected as a human being.
The Little Things Count
According to American Express, 58% of customers are willing to spend more at businesses that provide excellent customer service. Sharpening this point, a different study reveals that 86 percent of consumers would pay up to 25 percent more for a superior customer service experience.
Moving from strategy to tactics doesn’t require a large budget or a magician’s wand. It starts with something as simple as a friendly greeting from the moment a shopper enters your door.
Consistency is central to effective sales training. Taking opportunities to reinforce to your employees that cheerfully greeting customers is part of your brand’s DNA is pivotal to successful brands across the industry spectrum. Reliable training should also focus on teaching staff to identify when a shopper needs assistance—and when they don’t. Finding the Goldilocks sweet spot of ‘just right’ can be tricky, but it’s not impossible.
With all of the high-decibel chatter about how to successfully engage the contemporary shopper, it can be easy to miss the obvious: win the heart. Remarkable experience encompasses a multitude of dimensions, but without first grabbing the no-tech-strings-attached heart and mind of your customer, all the high tech devices are not likely to help.
Select a few core characteristics that can differentiate your business. Educate your employees and empower them to be themselves within your unique brand to create an authentic experience for your customers.
Remember that whatever you are selling can be bought almost anywhere else—perhaps even for less. Motivate your shoppers to buy from you because of your friendly, knowledgeable and caring employees, or whatever criteria you select to represent your exclusive brand. You may not win the price war, but you can win on all other retail fronts if you and your staff are able to treat each customer as an individual.
The Little Things Can Make Huge Differences
If your store sells apparel, offering your customers to steam garments while they continue to shop can distinguish you from the competition. Teaching your employees how to properly fold clothing or wrap fragile items adds another thoughtful touch.
Aligning your brand with packaging is another option. Once again, it is helpful to think about the small personal touches. It could be as simple as wrapping purchases in tissue paper and sealing it with a personalized sticker that has your store name printed on it. Similarly, decorative string or ribbon could be used to embellish the handles of a shopping bag offering that extra white glove touch.
An attractive bowl considerately placed at the register to hold free samples is another way to express your appreciation to customers. Wrapped candies and mints are often popular with weary shoppers who are grateful for the boost. Many retailers are also discovering success in positioning coolers at or near registers that offer shoppers the ability to buy a modestly priced cold beverage. The idea here is not about making your beverage sales a significant profit center, but about the comfort of your customers.
The Little Things Are Not So Little
There’s a saying about conventional wisdom often being neither. Today’s conventional wisdom commonly speaks about customer engagement in very fluffy terms. The marketing waters can become quite dense with waves of terminology like ‘predictive marketing analytics’ and ‘proximity marketing’ and ‘omnichannel marketing.’
Here’s the chase: Technology and tactics can certainly help, but it will get you only so far. In the final analysis, successful marketing still turns of delivering exceptional service, where 70 percent of customers’ decisions to buy are made on the basis of how they feel a business treats them. And that’s something tactics and technology are unable to cover in the absence of a genuine commitment to superior customer service.
At Specialty Store Services we pride ourselves on having the best service for our customers. We believe in treating customers how we would like to be treated. If you have any questions regarding Specialty Store Services, visit our website.