Does customer service have to suffer if you want to increase profitability?
For some companies, that seems to be the case.
Businesses that want to sell faster often unwittingly sacrifice the one element of their business that allows them to stay in business, and that is, customer service. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are five tips for business owners that want to offer better customer service combined with improved sales in 2015:
- Realize the two goals are interrelated
The goal of improved customer service and increased sales are interrelated. One without the other is not sustainable. If you have great customer service but no sales, you won’t be in business for long. If you have increased sales due to some clever marketing scheme, but you treat every customer like they don’t matter, you’ll get no repeat business and eventually you’ll have empty checkout lines. When you look at ways to take your sales to the top in 2015, you must also look at ways to take your customer service to the highest levels.
- Make your priorities clear to every employee
Share your plans to improve sales and customer service with every one of your employees, from the shelf stockers all the way up to management. When everyone is clear about how to prioritize their tasks, no one will balk when they realize proper action is being taken. When an employee abandons their task of pricing merchandise so they can assist a customer who needs help, management and other staff will understand why. Explain that in your store, the phrase, “The customer comes first,” is to be taken literally.
- Know that you only have one advantage
If you’re a brick and mortar store, you know the tides have changed. Customers can get most of your merchandise online, delivered to their door. You have one advantage that online retailers can’t offer, and that’s friendly customer service. When customers come to your store to buy something, you have one chance to show them the one good reason why they should shop with you instead of online. Train your employees to stay focused on the customer, and not their personal cell phones. Make sure you have enough staff on the floor at all times to help with questions or give directions within the store to other merchandise. Every time your staff successfully makes a customer’s personal interaction a positive one, you can pretty much guarantee that they will return.
- Give your employees leeway
Employees sometimes feel like their hands are tied when it comes to customer service. Maybe they feel they can’t leave their station, or their aisle. They may feel they aren’t allowed to engage in casual chit chat with a customer. This shouldn’t be the case if you’re truly committed to improved customer service. A happy customer is one who has experienced a human connection in your store. Allow your employees to be human.
- Make it easy to buy
When a potential customer has made the decision to purchase from you, make the process as seamless as possible. Don’t force them to clip coupons to get a credit. Don’t force them to stand in two lines to make a return and then make a purchase. Offer as many methods of payment as are available. For example, right now, you should already be offering Apple Pay in all your store locations. Last, never place a telephone at a checkout station and expect the cashier to handle calls. This often leads to a customer standing there waiting with money to pay while the cashier talks to a person who is not even in the store.
As the following article shows, the best practices for sustaining sales and service behavior will stem from your having a heightened awareness of the need for customer service.
Make sure your business has a reputation for giving the best customer service available, and you’ll be looking at record-breaking sales in 2015.
About the Author: Kate Supino is passionate about best business practices and effective marketing techniques.