I’m sure if you were to ask 10 people what their biggest pet-peeve about shopping is, 11 would tell you it’s a bad customer service experience. Heck, look at most Yelp reviews with a lackluster rating and what do you see? Bad customer service. Whether it’s rude employees, not getting the value for your buck, or incompetence, there are a bunch of simple ways to improve the experience, stop the bleeding and keep those customers coming back to spend some more. In these times, with so many options for places to spend, and not a lot of people who can afford to do so, it doesn’t take much to implode. I worked in the restaurant industry for over 10 years. I prided myself on making sure people could come out and have a good time while I took care of them. If I was having a bad night, their money is still being spent. But these simple tips became very handy when things went awry. And these tips helped those times where things didn’t go right turn into loyal customers.
1) LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! Oh, and LISTEN! Encourage your employees to listen to the grievance and help solve the problem. One of the things I hear people complain about most is dealing with a “know-nothing” employee. This, in my view, comes from employees not being empowered to do anything. If you give the authority to your employees to solve the problem as opposed to running to get a manager the customer will feel as if they are dealing with a competent, ie: smart and helpful, person. This doesn’t mean there are things that can’t go over their head or pay-grade. But encourage the employee to listen on how to solve the problem effectively. When a customer has a problem, they don’t want to explain it to someone who is just looking to run and hide so you can deal with it. It also makes the customer have to explain their issue more than once. I don’t know about you, but when I have to call my cell phone company and explain my issue repeatedly because I keep getting transferred from one person to another I get very annoyed. Typically solutions are simple, whether you just need to comp a meal, or they just need someone to listen to a grievance (sometimes that’s all they want) it doesn’t always need to escalate to the next level. But listen carefully so you can come to a fair resolution together. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t understand what the complaint is. LISTEN!
2) Seek out a problem. Yes you heard me (read me?) correctly. If you notice someone who is not happy then ask what you can do to resolve the issue. If a customer is picking through the clothes racks and just not finding anything, ask if there was something online they saw that maybe you can order from another store. If a customer leaves half their food and doesn’t want to box it up, ask if you can get them something else instead (or even just have the chef whip up something and surprise them). You’d be surprised how something like this will win over a customer for life who may not have come back because of a “meh” experience.
3). Follow up with them. If you have the opportunity, either get a contact number or email address to make sure there isn’t anything more you can do to get that customer back in the building. If you win them over, just think how many friends they will tell because of their experiences. Conversely, if you don’t win them over, just think how many friends they’ll tell about that. Also think about how many bad experiences from friends you hear about rather than the good ones.
4) Get as much feedback as you can from your customers. See where there are weaknesses. See where you missed those opportunities. And this also provides the opportunity to follow up with them to see if you have resolved whatever issues they had. It also gives them the opportunity to tell you what went right! As a manager, I never tired of those customer service experiences. When I got to hear praise about my employees and how wonderful they are.
These 4 little things are just the tip of the iceberg in ways to get your customers coming back. But you need to start from here. If things still need some sprucing up, my phone number and email are easy to find…