Ask any store manager and I'll bet he or she will tell you that they work hard to insure that their store provides good customer service. That's as it should be. But here's the problem: In today's competitive arena good customer service is simply not enough. It is not a point of differentiation because everybody expects it and rightfully so. It would be contrary to common sense to think that any merchant would not want to provide it. Here are five ideas to elevate good to great:
- Make sure your entire staff knows what you expect and what you want. I know, this seems like an elementary point, but you'll be surprised the number of stores that I work with in which the staff had no clear understanding of what was expected of them in the customer interface process.
- Schedule regular meetings to insure that everybody stays on the same page. Often a manager will have a single meeting and think that a point is covered. Repetition and redundancy are great teaching vehicles. When a person hears a message once it is often forgotten. Repeated enough, however the message becomes engrained in their thoughts and manifested in their actions.
- Recognize and reward superior customer service. People are motivated by a number of things, not the least of which is recognition. When you see one of your employees providing superior service let that employee know that you appreciate the extra effort. It is also good to recognize this person in front of her fellow employees.
- Ask for input from your employees. Those working the front lines can often recognize improvements that can be made to your customer interface. Ask for and welcome ideas from this most important source.
- Develop a report card on which you regularly grade your store's performance on customer service issues. This is another area that it pays to include your employees. The report card should include things that are common in your industry and things that are unique to your store. Remember good grades on the common things is simply not enough because good grades on common issues will not differentiate your store.
Remember that in order to separate your store from the many choices that your customers have, you will have to differentiate. Good customer service does not differentiate-great customer service does!
Philip H. Mitchell is the author of Discovery-Based Retail. His book has been endorsed by Scott Wright of the North American Retail Hardware Association, Art Brown of the Mid-American Lumberman's’ association and other industry experts. Philip is also one of the founding partners of a retail consulting company of the same name, Discovery-Based Retail. His company works with retailers, both small and large, helping them enhance their profitability by improving their customer interface. Their company also specializes in improving the production of the entire salesspace and designs floorplans to accomplish this.
Visit his website at http://www.discoverdbr.com