I’m sure you’ve heard the old cliché about the pet store with half its lights turned off with the clerk sitting behind the cash register reading a paperback book, never looking up once while the consumer walked through the store and finally left without exchanging a word.
That probably isn’t as true today as it was many years ago, but there are still stores not stepping up to offer the kind of customer service that will bring the consumer back to their store and build loyalty. Good customer service doesn’t stop with asking if you can help. Yes, there is a fine line between assistance and harassment; you don’t want to come off looking like a used car salesperson, but just because the customer said they didn’t need help when they entered the store doesn’t mean they won’t after looking around for a while.
Some stores who are on top of their customer service game offer in-store features, such as a puppy walk, a secure space that allows a prospective owner to meet and bond with a puppy, or a play pen, which lets a customer place their pet in a secure area while shopping. Other features like a claw clipping station, a water testing station or a help desk and parts center as free services are what will set your store apart from your competition.
I remember one store that I visited while detailing in Spokane, Wash. The moment you walked into their store you were greeted as if you were the most important customer of the day and that they were glad you stopped in. This store sticks out in my memory because I got very little done there that day; they were so busy there wasn’t much time to talk with me. I finally left to call on other stores, but even though they hadn’t had much time to talk to me I didn’t feel neglected. It was obvious that they were super busy. The other stores in the area weren’t nearly as friendly, or as busy.
Something to keep in mind: Even if you have great customer service, only those who walk into your store will know about it. If you’re proud of your service, advertise that fact. Make a point of your superior customer service on your website, Facebook page and in-store signage, and then of course, live up to your customer’s expectations.
Really it comes down to this: The most important component to good customer service is attitude. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from retailers, “They bought the product from (a big-box-store/internet) and expect me to show them how to use it.” Then they say how they told the consumer to “Go blow it out their barracks-bag.” That, in my opinion, is the kiss of death. The retailer just lost a customer for life, and might even get a bad review about their attitude on Yelp or other review sites on the Internet.
Instead of turning customers away, be patient and helpful and make them want to buy something from you in gratitude for your kind help. Just because they bought something from a discounter doesn’t mean they won’t buy something from you if you have been friendly and helpful. This is especially likely if you have solved a problem for them.