Customer service is paramount in the retail business. It doesn’t matter if you sell the world’s best product or service—if your customer service isn’t up to snuff, nobody’s going to buy what you’re selling. So while offering top-notch customer service may be an onerous task, it’s definitely worth the effort, and your employees, your customers, and your bottom line will all benefit. But if you’re worried that you’re not up for the challenge, here are five golden rules to follow for superior customer service.
1. Courtesy and Patience from All Levels
Being kind and courteous to customers applies to every level of your company and through every communication medium. Whether it’s a frontline customer acquisition service rep at a retail call center, an in-store manager, or a regional supervisor responding to an email, it’s integral that each member of your company knows how to be polite and considerate to every customer, no matter the circumstances. This goes hand in hand with being patient, and it’s vital to remember that customers don’t have the same level of knowledge about your product or service that you do, and they aren’t asking questions or making requests just to annoy you.
2. Being Attentive and Observant
If customers feel like they aren’t being heard, they’re going to go somewhere else for the same thing you’re offering. This applies when customers are just looking, when they’re getting ready to buy, and afterward when they have questions or concerns about what they bought. Each employee must be fully present when communicating with customers and be prepared to offer each client their full attention. This also means listening to what customers have to say, how they’re saying it, and determining what it is the customer really wants and needs.
3. Effective Communication
Effective communication is a two-way street that requires your employees to listen carefully to what people are saying, and be able to provide answers and information in a succinct and comprehensible way. And when you learn to master effective communication, you get to a level where you can choose words and phrases to put positive spins on negative situations. For instance, instead of saying “product X is out of stock,” you instead phrase it as product X will be available.” Having an effective call center for retail businesses at your disposal helps take the communication factor to the next level.
4. Showing Concern
When an employee demonstrates that they care about a retail customer, it can calm a customer down, nudge them toward making a purchase, and convey that your company truly takes customers seriously. Moreover, a customer service rep who is truly adept at showing concern will not only be able to diffuse negative situations, but also turn them into selling opportunities.
5. Encyclopedic Product Knowledge
Having a thorough understanding of the product or service is essential for anybody who has contact with your customers. Just imagine calling a company for product assistance and not getting answers because the rep knew less than you! A single uninformed customer service rep can ruin your company’s image for every customer he or she has contact with. On the other hand, employees with extensive product knowledge build your brand, are more confident, are better equipped to deal with issues, and are more efficient.
Customer service is a full-time commitment for any retail company, because without your customers, you have no business. The rules for providing excellent customer service really boil down to caring about the customers and the company, because an employee who cares will be able to perform well in many situations, will be knowledgeable, and will be able to address questions and concerns efficiently and courteously.