The Christmas shopping season is here approaching and, for many businesses, this is the time of year when most sales are made and nearly all profit is earned. And yet, it is a time when many people dread having to go shopping. A time when we hear complaints:
“The stores are hot and crowded!”
“I can’t find what I am looking for!”
“I can’t find anyone to help me!”
“The clerks don`t even know what is in the store!”
Anne Miner, CEO of The Dunvegan Group, is a customer care and retention specialist and author of the book: Measuring Up! A Guide to Success with Customer Satisfaction has some tips to help businesses make a great experience for customers – and help grow the business in the long run. Anne works with clients to help them develop a customer-focused organization to grow and retain their ideal customer base. It is taking care of the needs today that grows the future.
Here are five simple and effective ideas for making the customer’s experience more positive – for creating a unique shopping experience that customers will mention to others thus drawing increased traffic to your store.
1. Train and orient holiday staff on the importance of caring for customers. Consider incorporating a motto or an affirmation into your training and have employees prepare for their day by repeating the motto (e.g., My #1 priority is to make sure customers enjoy shopping in our store … I am here to make your shopping experience a happy one.)
2. Catch your staff doing right things – praise and reward them publicly. This practice will encourage the behaviors you want to have repeated. If correction is required, do it in private and approach it from a coaching perspective. No one ever improved their attitude as a result of being chastised.
3. Make customers feel welcome. Acknowledge their arrival and encourage them to consider all you have to offer. Smile! Say something like “Welcome to ____, we are happy to see you! Please take your time looking around and, if there is something I can help you with, just let me know…. We have baskets/carts over here and cold water if you are thirsty …” If the customer’s arms are full of packages, or they are loaded with bags, help them to place their packages/bags into the cart. Bring the water to the customer.
4. Empathize with customers who appear to be tired, frustrated, annoyed. When there is a line-up at the checkout, say to the customers, “I am so sorry we kept you waiting.” or, “thank you for your patience.” Hand out drinks of water … cookies … chocolates to the customers waiting in line.
5. Be genuinely grateful. Thank everyone who visits your store. Remember, every visitor is a prospective customer, maybe not today but someday. And, they may recommend your store to others.
The holiday season is the best time to embrace your customers – it is also the best time to honour your staff. The more you make it work for all the people in the business, the better the rest of the year will be.