Tuesday, December 14

The 10 Commandments of Retail Customer Service 

Lately, a lot of my clients have been in the retail sector - from banks to stores to secret shoppers that help THEIR clients with customer service issues. So I thought I'd blow the dust off an almost 4-year old collection of wisdom that, whether you run a retail business or not, merits your attention in the lessons it contains. The below is from Stores Magazine, January 2001 with bold comments from me.

1. Put Your Customers First
Retail stores cannot exist without customers . . . so welcome them and make them feel valued. Duh! But how many of you are doing this for REAL?

2. Make It Easy . . .
for shoppers to get into and out of your store, to find a sales associate, to gather merchandise and to locate fitting rooms, restrooms and the return desk. Or to meet with you, hire you for your consulting services, web design, accounting services, whatever. Have you packaged your services with the customer in mind? Is it truly EASY? How could it be even easier to do business with you?

3. Know Your Customers
Embrace every opportunity to notice them, listen to them and remember them. Know them individually, and know them collectively. Each segment in your marketing audience should have a profile - both demographic and psychographic.

4. Keep It Simple
Discount store shoppers don’t expect piano music, and commissioned sales help won’t fly in a warehouse club, but a friendly smile, a bit of empathy and a willingness to help work in every environment. You can't out-Walmart Walmart. Be where the competition isn't.

5. Cultivate a Service Culture
Passion for customer service must be part of the culture, not just part of the mission statement. Tip: Glen Senk, CEO of retailer Anthropologie says he encourages managers to only hire staff "whose parents have done a good job." You can train a lot of things, but you can't train people to be nice.

6. Be Consistent
Multi-channel is industry jargon. Customers expect customer service, prices and return policies to be consistent, regardless of whether they shop your store, catalog or web site. "Every deal stands on its own" is the catchphrase for negotiating, not for customer service!!Treat customers inconsistently and they WILL go away.

7. Play Fair
Do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it, at the price you promised. If you advertise something, have it in stock. If it’s out of stock, provide comparable alternatives. Tip: Erase the word policy from your vocabulary.

8. Empower the Front Line . . .
to make decisions and deliver results and counsel them when mistakes arise. Take care of the people who are charged with taking care of your customers and they will take care of your business. As Hal Rosenbluth said, "The Customer Comes Second." Buy his book here.

9. Use Technology . . .
to aid and abet customer service, not to replace it. Customer service from a robot is suicide. Read the article here.

10. Recover Quickly
Mistakes will happen. The true measure of good customer service is how quickly you can turn a negative into a positive. Darn tootin'!!!

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