5 Key Elements to Providing Great Customer Service
5 key elements to providing great customer service. Every business knows by now the importance of great customer care. It is much cheaper and easier for any business to retain their existing customer base than to advertise and spend valuable time seeking to create new business.
Customer loyalty is key, and can be particularly important for our own customers who often provide a local service for local people within their community.
Many of our customers provide invaluable local services such as convenience stores, forecourts, and pharmacies, and great service can often be the difference that gives you the edge over your nearby competitor from a customer’s perspective.
Here we discuss 5 key elements that can be easily achieved to help you provide a great service to your customers, and have them choose you every time!
1. Make it Memorable
Research has shown that customers remember the retailers who remember them. Take the time to get to know your regular customers, learn and remember details about them and encourage your staff to do the same.
If you don’t know the customer, provide them with the same level of care and attention anyway. Customer loyalty has to start somewhere, and a great first experience is vital.
Unhappy customers are likely to talk about their poor experience with around 10 other people, and in the age of social media, a poor google review only takes a minute but can reach even more people, damaging your business’s reputation. Encourage your customers to talk to you about their difficulties, before they start telling others. Often, your biggest complainers can become your best customers if dealt with correctly!
A smile goes a long way. It’s immediately welcoming and starts any interaction on a positive note. Even if your last customer was a difficult one, try to remember to put a smile on your face for the next person in line; after all this is a brand new interaction. Let your customers know that you are always delighted to see them and are grateful for their business.
2. Training and Competency
Ensure that your staff are well trained and competent. Provide them with full training in advance of dealing with your customers, either professionally or via in-house training, so that they are confident and capable when meeting your clients.
For example, your staff will need prior knowledge of your processes, your products, the store layout, health and safety, and how to accurately operate the stores technology. If using Retail Solutions systems, we can provide staff training, and your other suppliers may do the same.
Teach your employees about your company culture, the things that are unique to your business and management style. If you like them to spend time chatting to your customers, or reading your sectors monthly magazine to keep up to date, let them know.
Once staff have completed training and begin looking after your customers, make this clear by providing a visual, such as a badge or sign that informs they are a trainee. This will encourage your customers to be patient while they learn, or provide them the option to go to another member of staff if they are in a hurry. Offering the information is the key to keeping your customers happy and protecting your staff from unnecessary pressure.
Make sure training is regular and ongoing, so that your customers are always presented with competent and knowledagable staff to take care of their needs.
Listening is a key skill in all areas of business, but particularly when it comes to great customer care. All of your knowledge and customer focus is of no use if you are unable to listen to your customer.
Make sure that you are receptive. Practice active listening so that your customers feel heard and are comfortable to tell you their thoughts. Customers will often have great ideas that can only be seen from a customer perspective, so make sure you are open to hearing them. Encourage them to tell you when they have a problem and don’t talk over them. Be patient and give them time, your customers will appreciate being heard. Once you are clear on the problem, you can then focus on how to solve it.
Ensure that you have multiple channels available for your customers to communicate with you. Some may prefer to come and talk to you, but no matter how open you are, there will be people who are too busy to call in person, or who just feel more comfortable on the phone, or sending an email or social media message. Make sure that you are there for them no matter how they prefer to contact you.
4. Keep Your Customer Informed
Whatever you are doing, always keeping your customer in the loop. Keep a database if possible, if you are running a special promotion or offering discounts in store, let them know. Inform them of upcoming events, new products or any changes that are happening in store.
Consider social media to keep in touch with your customers. Create a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account for your business, so your customers can keep up to date with your news. This also allows them to easily make contact with you, even outside of opening hours.
If you are providing any service to them in store that takes a little longer than usual, such as arranging a credit note or ordering a special product, briefly explain the process so they are not just left waiting. When finding some information or stock item for them, let them know what you are doing and if it’s taking longer than expected, how you are progressing.
If your customer is ordering via your web shop, make sure your system provides them with feedback during every step of the process, so your customer feels they are always in control of their transaction.
5. Consistency and Reliability
Once you have taken steps to create a great customer experience for your clients, it’s an important part of the process to make sure you continue to offer the same level of service consistently.
Once you have built a reputation for excellence, your customers will rely on you to continue to provide a great service, and it becomes immediately obvious if one day that doesn’t happen.
Be sure to continue to open and close when expected, make sure your staff are available and up to date with the latest market information and training, keep your store tidy and well laid out with correct pricing, provide those fast and accurate transactions that your customers have come to expect.
Mishaps do happen, and if you are unavoidably short staffed or your key product supplier hasn’t arrived, make it clear to your customer before they have to ask with signage; a little foresight and an apology will be appreciated by your customers.
You have worked hard to build a loyal customer base, so make sure you can maintain the standards you have set and give your customers a reason to continue to choose you over your competitors.
Hopefully, you have found some useful tips on great customer service that you can take into your business here. We are all someone’s customers, and the key message is to think of your very best experience as a customer and decide how you can provide that experience for your own customers. Happy staff and happy clients will always lead to a more profitable business.
For more information on EPOS systems and other products and services, check out our website or get in contact and see what Retail Solutions can do for your business.
+353 (93) 23900
1890 738 245
About the author
Susan McGuire has worked with Retail Solutions for 5 years and has over 20 years’ experience in customer service.
You can follow her on LinkedIn!