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Even with a slew of online options, shoppers still cherish the ability to touch and feel merchandise that they plan to purchase. However, brick and mortar stores have different challenges because they deal with their customers face to face. Not only must internal systems assure happy shoppers, but staff must also be able to deliver a level of service that keeps business booming. On-target strategies generate repeat business and more referrals and render marketing efforts more efficient and effective.
Here are some classic methods - addressing both customers and employees - to establish and meet customer expectations:
Customer Relation Basics
Treat the customer as a valued friend, with a relationship based on respect and individual needs, and let your business methodology reflect this. Here are some tips:
Customer Friendly Systems
Successful store owners will point out that exceptional customer service starts at the very heart of the system - and begins long before the first shopper walks through the door. Use these guidelines to make sure your business protocols are customer friendly:
Guarantees and Warranties: Get It in Writing
Putting the terms of sale on paper can keep customer relations positive - even when problems arise.
A guarantee or warranty is a promise or assurance that something is of specified quality, content and benefit, or that it will perform satisfactorily for a given length of time. Before statutory law, the buyer had no warranty on the quality of goods. Caveat emptor or "Buyer Beware" was the rule. Now, the law requires that goods must be of "merchantable quality."
A warranty can be difficult to enforce and may not apply to all products. Product warranty or guarantee, like a refund policy, act as an assurance that the business honors its commitment to its customers for quality products.
When developing a store guarantee program, think about the following:
Quickly addressing customer complaints can help a business grow and prosper while ignoring issues can result in revenue loss or even litigation. A strong and successful plan to address customer issues incorporates technology, employee training and constant vigilance to follow up on problem resolution.
To-the-Point Product Return Policies
In a retail store, refund policies should be posted at the cash register to disclose return requirements at the point of purchase.
Stipulations to include in a brick and mortar refund policy are similar to their electronic counterparts:
As a nod to customer service that's a cut above the competitors, think about:
As part of a new hire orientation, employees should receive a handbook spelling out the values and standards of the company. Most companies take policy violations seriously, and repeated infractions could subject the employee to termination.
Retail stores present a visual aspect of a customer/staff interaction not present in the online or telephone relationship. An employee's clothing and attitude, in particular, send signals that reflect personal or cultural identity, or even an effect adverse to the retail environment. To maintain a consistent signal that reflects the company's image, explicit company policies for employees should be:
Happy, satisfied employees will replicate their positive outlook in their customer service protocols. These guidelines go a long way to making this happen:
Customer Service Training
Good service is so critical that one or two training sessions won’t do. Educating your staff regularly and consistently will make positive treatment of customers a habit. Keep these tips in mind: