June 01, 2018
The one common denominator when it comes to retail sales is...people. And how those people interact with each other.
I call it being brilliant on the basics.
Retail has always been about people - how you get them to take action on the desire they have to purchase, how you make your employees feel they are the most important people in the world so they will make your shoppers feel the same way - you get the idea.
Customer service isn't a new concept. In fact, customer service and human interaction are as old as time; however, how humans interact with each other is continually evolving. That means you have to change and evolve also; otherwise, you might find your sales are falling behind.
A global consumer pulse survey performed by Accenture shows that in the US, the estimated cost of customers switching from retailer to retailer due to poor customer service is $1.6 trillion! For perspective, retail sales were $5.7 trillion in 2017; that’s almost a third of sales affected by poor customer service.
Accenture also found...
- About 83% of US consumers prefer dealing with human beings.
- About 68% of customers who have switched brands or providers will not go back.
- About 80% of customers who switched stated that the company could have done something to keep them and approximately 83% of them said better in-person customer service would have ultimately changed their decision to switch.
How do you make your shoppers feel?
This is important because if your customers don't connect with you, or if they feel as if they are bothering you, or just don't feel welcome, they will go to another store.
Are you unintentionally rubbing your customers the wrong way? If you don’t have a formal retail sales process in place, I bet you are.
What do your associates do when they see a shopper approaching?
Do they stand behind the counter and wait until the shopper walks up to them? Do they genuinely smile and make your customer feel welcome? What body language are they displaying that might give the customer the wrong first impression?
The whole sale is in jeopardy with a bad greeting; shoppers simply keep their guard up no matter how many closing techniques you try on them. Survey after survey confirms the one thing that bugs shoppers the most is not receiving a greeting in a store.
Timetrade found that 85% of shoppers “buy more than they intend to when they go to a store without knowing exactly what they want.” That’s why you don’t greet with, Can I help you find something?
Instead, here is what you and your associates should be doing when a shopper enters the store:
1. Display a genuine smile and offer a warm greeting.
How would you feel if you walked into a store and either no one acknowledged you or they just looked at you without smiling? Always approach and greet your customers without making them come to you. And never yell a greeting across the salesfloor.
Your body language needs to match your words. If you are being friendly, but your body language is saying something else, you are dismissing your shoppers without realizing it.
2. Make Eye to Eye Contact
YES, it really is that important. Why? Because it is a form of acknowledgement.
Think of how you feel when you're talking with someone and they’re looking around the room for someone else to ditch you for or their eyes are down totally engrossed in their smartphone. You feel offended.
You need to explain to your team how important eye to eye contact is and why. Then make them aware of whether or not they are doing it.
Eye to eye contact is important because:
- It helps builds trust and a personal connection.
- Makes people feel more comfortable.
- Shows people you're listening.
- Displays confidence.
- Makes you more approachable.
- Shows sincerity and integrity.
And smiling along with that eye contact just adds another layer of trust, as well as another layer of human interaction. So make a conscious effort to smile as well.
3. Practice Makes Permanent
Exceptional customer service is the holy grail of any business. If you have it, the sky's the limit. If you don't, you’re doomed.
The good news is that you have complete control over it. Exceptional customer service can be achieved with consistent training so your team knows exactly what to do. Role play to make sure they can do what you taught and hire mystery shoppers to inspect what you expect.
Here are some customer service techniques you should consider including in your monthly training meetings. Explore each of the following questions in more detail, then include them as part of your routine training sessions.
- How can you display empathy and a genuine desire to help?
- What is positive language and how can you use it about your products?
- How can you demonstrate you are listening to a shopper?
- How do you deal with your own frustration when a shopper can’t decide?
- What should you do when you don't have the answer?
- How do various body language postures help or hurt you?
What’s the biggest mistake you can make? Taking your customers for granted.
Your shopper no longer has to come into your store, or for that matter, has to buy from you. There are plenty of online retailers they can visit and buy from.
You have to make that one shopper from the second they walk into your store until the moment they leave that they are the most important person to you. My SalesRX.com retail sales training program can help you consistently create that feeling.
See also, 10 Retail Selling Tips
Put these customer service techniques into action and you'll experience better relationships with your shoppers. One woman who used SalesRX, called to tell me, “Since using your program our customers all got nicer.” I had to correct her a bit and replied, “No, your customers didn’t get nicer, your employees got nicer.”
Great customer service starts with creating a process, addressing shoppers key pain points, and training your crew. When you do that, the entire event of shopping in your store becomes easy and customers rave about your service.