We all seem to know how important customer service is-if we are going to be
successful in retail. Then why do we keep getting lousy service wherever we go?
Assuming most customers are reasonable people, the answer to the above question is
1. Store staff don't know or don't understand what the expected behavior in
terms of customer care is or 2. Management gives this issue only a lip service and do not
place firm criteria to maintain high customer service levels.
It always boils down to quality of management doesn't it? In both of the above
cases, it's management that is squarely responsible. So, before things get even
worse, here are the commandments you need to put in place and make sure they are
ingrained into everyone's mind:
1. A Vision of Customer Service Excellence That is Clearly
Developed and Communicated: If you do not set the
expectations right from the beginning, you can't blame anyone but yourself.
2. Recruit, Hire, Train and Promote People with People
Skills: When you are interviewing for new people, look for
indications of friendliness, helpful nature and ask questions probing for the
level of people skills . When evaluating staff performance, make sure there is
enough indication and consideration to their performance in customer service.
3. Measure Individual Service Performance, Report
Results and Celebrate Victories: What is not measured can not be
managed. End of story. Develop a performance chart for each staff member and
rate them from 1 to 10 for their Customer Service performance. You'll see a
marked improvement almost immediately.
4. Solve Problems When and Where They Occur
immediately: Customer studies show that as long as a problem is
resolved fast and to the customer's benefit, most become very loyal customers
for life. Study your policies and procedures and eliminate the fluff and
unnecessary steps that take time. To speed up the resolution process, empower
your staff to make certain decisions without having to look for management.
5. Stay Close to Your Customer:
When was the
last time you took one of your customers to lunch or even a coffee? I know a lot
of you are thinking we don't do that in retail, that's the domain of B2B sales;
but unless you know your customer's honest opinion, how are you going to improve
your operation? Think about it.
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