I am currently working with a high street retail business and I thought I would share some of my experience of running retail businesses, my observations of working with business owners/managers and the lessons of what creates the greatest impact.
Retail sales are not an exercise in moving money but an exercise in moving people. Whether customers, employees, suppliers, stakeholders or investors you must move them emotionally and physically into action. Create a customer experience plan of how you are going to attract and treat the people you depend on, to avoid missing critical opportunities.
Business owners/managers know their products and the seasonality of their sales but rarely question their whole range of customers (regulars, new, returning, complainers and non-customers) to find out what more they can do to satisfy and exceed their customers wants and needs.
In-depth knowledge of your customer’s wants and needs is critical to business growth in retail and most other companies. Knowing your customers’ expectations enables you to match your limited resources to meet their needs. Exceptional customer service is the number one factor influencing how much a consumer trusts a company. According to American Express research, 74% of consumers say they have spent more with a company that they have had a positive customer service experiences, three out of four people you can impact with great customer service.
Here are five strategies that I have used to improve customer service, to increase engagement with potential customers and to increase the bottom-line figures.
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Improve your brand consistency and consistently ask for testimonials and use Social Media to share your reviews.
- Customers like to try before they buy and will check product information on their smart phones. Ensure your website is mobile optimised and create opportunities to allow your customers to sample. Give detailed product information in videos and social reviews to help make customers decision-making easy and back this up with your guarantees to encourage potential buyers.
- If you assume your customer can get you product anywhere then the only reason your customers comes to you is your service experience. Training your staff to be experts in the creating the model customer experience. Giving your employees the technology to have ready access to social media and online reviews, and empowering them to share their broad product knowledge of the merchandise without always pushing for an immediate sale so letting the customer decide what is best for them.
- The advantage of retail is in its personal relationships and the opportunity to truly personalise customer shopping experience. Your sales staff could greet customers by name and proactively aware of their preferences, their loyalty points, their birthdays and anniversaries, sending targeted offers and messages to help make your customers feel cared for and valued.
- Make it easy for the customers to do business with you. Look at all your processes from your customer’s perspective. Use technology to your advantage and offer ‘add-on’ services such as ‘click-to-collect’ and ‘reserve-in-store’ giving your customer the flexibility that delivers a true Omni channel experience.
How can you Improve Customer Service Experience?
- Customer excellence skills are crucial to survival – Customer excellence training.
- Building upon your customer’s base in a cost-effective manner is key – Social media training.
- Understanding your customer’s and how to reach and grow their audience, planning marketing campaigns – Digital Marketing training.
- Managing growth, performance and staff in a cost efficient manner – management training initiatives.
- Monitoring sales, understanding trends and market influences, theatre in the windows – high quality visual merchandising training and monitoring the sales per sqm.
Retailers are the life blood of our high streets and important in moderating our economic low unemployment rate. Training must be meaningful and have a demonstrable return on investment to the time given the limited resources retailer have. This training and support are best delivered through formal group training for knowledge acquisition and informal mentoring to aid the bespoke implementation of the suggested interventions. To provide the most positive impact on the sustainability of the SME retail communities and to keep you engaged in developing your skills through quality and consistent training and support is paramount.