are taking a break from our newsletter series
Growth by Acquisition to bring you the below article about customer
service in the retail environment. We will continue with the series in
our next newsletter edition with an article about effectively managing
and executing the transfer of knowledge and work responsibility.
10 Rules for Retail Customer Service
As I was sitting in
front of my computer on Black Friday contemplating a topic for the next
newsletter article, I realized that it would be an appropriate time to
provide advice for those in customer service in the retail environment.
As it turns out, someone close to me just lost his job because he didn't
heed this advice (providing a timely case study). While this time of
year is especially busy for retail, the following advice is applicable
year-round. Moreover, for those of you not in retail, I'd suggest that
what is shared below can be applied to virtually any industry or sector.
If you have never worked in retail, you have missed out on the most
important customer service experience in your life. Dealing with the
end-consumer can be extremely challenging and the "true test" is how you
will handle an unruly customer. Make no mistake, no matter how friendly
you are, how great the products/services your organization offers or
your geographic location, you WILL be visited by a cantankerous person
whom you will not be able to please – no matter what. While there may
not be many of these people in the world, they do seem to get around
quite a bit.
So, here are the 10 Rules for Successful Customer Service in Retail
(plus a bonus item):
Politely greet your customers. The greeting may be
something like: "Did you find everything you were looking for?",
"How can I help you?" or as simple as "Good morning/ afternoon/
evening." Just greet them – every time!
Look people squarely in the eye when you are talking
to them. This demonstrates to customers that you respect them, that
you are confident in your position, and that you are being open and
honest about doing your best to serve them. If you avoid eye
contact, the customer feels unappreciated (just another
transaction), that you are uncomfortable in your position, that you
are not doing your best to meet his/her needs and that you are just
there to "punch the clock."
When the customer asks a question, be sure that you
heard correctly before responding. So, if there is ANY doubt in your
mind about what the customer has just asked you, politely respond
with something to the effect of: "I'm sorry, could you please repeat
When you are talking to the customer, make sure that
you speak clearly. Speaking clearly includes: the appropriate volume
for the environment (if it is noisy you will need to speak a bit
louder than normal), slowly enough so that your words are not
jumbled or mumbled and, finally, with a positive/upbeat tone of
Smile and be courteous – enough said about that!
When handing something to the customer, make sure that
he/she has it before you let go. And, if the item is dropped, know
that it is YOUR FAULT. That being the case, YOU need to make haste
to reach down and pick it up for the customer (just make sure you
don't bump heads). And, sincerely apologize…
Never, never, never argue with the customer. If you
haven't heard it before, the Golden Rule of Customer Service is:
"THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!" This applies even if the customer is
clearly wrong or being totally rude. NO MATTER WHAT the customer is
always right - at least that is what you need to make customers
think. When you know that the customer is wrong, what you "can" do
is, in a non-argumentative but supportive tone, share additional
information that may help the customer expand his/her understanding,
with the goal that the customer comes to a new understanding as a
product of his/her own conclusion.
When you are having extended dialog with a customer,
be sure to acknowledge the next customer in line by politely saying
something to the effect of: "I'll be with you in just a moment."
Doing so accomplishes 2 things: 1) You are letting the next customer
know that you are aware of his/her presence and 2) It "may" help to
move the current customer along.
If you absolutely cannot help the customer, then YOU
should ask if he/she would like to speak with your supervisor or
manager. Do NOT wait for the customer to request this. When your
supervisor arrives, summarize the situation in an objective and
non-judgmental way so that the customer doesn't have to begin at
ground zero to explain the situation.
Always, always, always say "Thank You" to the customer
upon completing a transaction.
And now, for the bonus item, just in case this wasn't obvious: Never,
never, never drop the "F" bomb. This is inappropriate for any situation
and is grounds for IMMEDIATE termination of your employment. No warnings
are required…you are done.
It should be noted that you "may" be able to keep your job in the retail
space through the Holiday Season even if you don't heed the advice above
(except maybe for the "F" bomb factor) because everyone is short
staffed. However, if you'd like to keep your job beyond the Holiday
Season, or move up the ladder (increased responsibility and more pay),
then you will do well to internalize and demonstrate the above.
In closing, if you are working in retail this Holiday Season, you are in
for a treat as shoppers swarm the stores with their stress levels higher
than ever. This will provide you an opportunity to exercise and develop
the customer service skills that will form a solid foundation for your
future, regardless of your field of endeavor. Good luck and good
+ 10 Rules for Retail Customer Service
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