Image source: Photospin.com
Even though Black Friday has come and gone, there is still time for retailers to increase their chances of having a good holiday shopping season. We all know customer service is important, but it's critical during stressful times like the holidays. And when the economy is sour and people want the most for their money, one of the best things your company can do is take steps to improve their customer service.
Remember, customers come to your company to get something they want. The companies that do the best job giving them what they want (in a way that is sustainable for them) will be the winners. They'll get more customers, more repeat business and more referrals.
So, get the most from this holiday shopping season by offering your customers Amazing Service. Here are ten ways to make it happen:
1. Put your customers first
Remember, your customers come to your store to get what they want. They believe you can help them. (Otherwise they would have gone somewhere else.) They have chosen you! Honor their choice by doing everything within your ability to help them. This means focusing your attention and efforts on discovering what they want and helping them get it. You put their interests and desires first. It means your sole motivation is helping them get what they came for.
When you begin talking with a customer, stop whatever else you are doing and focus on them. Make appropriate eye contact, listen, nod and show them you are paying attention. Some people take notes when listening, to ensure they get everything the customer is saying. Certainly you should ask questions to confirm and clarify that you understand. As you listen to your customer, don't pre-judge what they're saying. Keep your mind open so you hear everything. And remember, listening is a full-time job!
3. Have fun
This is SUPPOSED to be a fun time of year. But for many people it never is because of the stress they subject themselves to. You can help them get back to the fun of the season. Have fun by giving them an unexpected and positive experience. Enjoy your work and your co-workers and your customers. It's not about goofing off or wasting time. But it IS about finding ways to bring fun and joy into your work and bringing your customers along for the ride.
4. Be flexible
Our goal is to help our customers get what they want, within our ability. So we always need to look for alternatives. We need to be creative. We need to think beyond the first solution that comes to mind when we're working with our customers. Being flexible means offering customers more than one solution. By offering choices we're making it more likely they'll get what they want. There are few things worse than being a a customer and someone says "that's the only way you can do it".
It also means being willing to try new things and go the extra mile for customers. It means being a problem solver rather than an order taker. Customers know the difference.
5. Make your customers smile
This is the most important thing you can do with your customers. If they are happy with your service they will come back. Note, this does not mean you do anything and everything to make your customers happy. You're always limited by the resources and policies of your company. But it does mean you do everything within your ability to make them happy. Get creative and look for ways to give your customer a great experience.
6. Put Yourself In Their Shoes (PYITS)
Try to see things from your customer's perspective in as many ways as you can. Think about when you're the customer. How do you feel and what do you want from people you buy from? What are the top three things you want from them? Most people want similar things like courtesy, helpful information, solutions (rather than dead-ends), a friendly smile, fair value and quick service.
What about when you're angry or frustrated with a company or person you do businesswith? Think about the emotions you have in those situations. And consider your motivations too. What drives you in those interactions? What actions do you want from the people you do business with? How do you want them to resolve your complaints?
We all wear at least two hats. One is our "service" hat which we wear when we are serving others. Another is our "customer" hat. Keep both of them handy at all times as a reminder to put yourself in your customer's shoes.
7. Be fast and friendly
The crowds, the weather and the stress of the holiday season can people's patience. People are under pressure to get a lot done in a little time. Move as quickly as you can as you help people. Be as efficient as you can and show them you respect their time. But don't trade fast for friendly. You need to do both. Give your customers a warm smile and a sincere, friendly greeting and you'll help them have a better experience while they're in your store.
8. Help, don't sell
Don't push people to buy what you think they should buy. Remember, they came to you to accomplish something, not to help you make a sale. Your focus needs to be "how can you help them accomplish their goals". Keep this in mind as you help your customers and you'll find they'll be easier to work with and more likely to buy from you.
9. Be extra patient
Even though some shoppers might not show you any patience, you need to give them plenty. Do whatever you have to do to be extra patient with everyone. Pretend you're talking with your 83 year old grandmother. How would you treat her? Keep in mind the pressure and stress your customers are under. They might snap at you in frustration but you need to let it roll off like water off a duck's back. Be nice to everyone every time - no exceptions and no excuses!
10. Brainstorm with your team to offer your customers the best experience
Even though the holiday shopping season has begun, you can still find ways to provide amazing customer service to your customers. Every day, meet with your staff and debrief what happened the day before. Did they have any unusual requests? Were there any difficult situations? Review each day and learn from it. Engage your employees to find creative solutions to your customers needs so you can help your customers have a great holiday season. The more people you help, the better holiday season you and your company will have.