Your business requires excellent customer service now more than ever due to the highly competitive marketplace.
Recently, I was waiting in line at a nationally known office supply store. It was a busy weekend shopping day.
The customer in front of me was returning an item. He was being assisted by one of the store managers. The return was complicated by the fact the customer had just opened up a store credit card. I really didn’t take much note of the transaction till I heard the store manager say to the customer: “If you didn’t want it, then why did you buy it?” It was the tone of the manager’s voice that caught my attention; as well as the words spoken.
The ironic part of this is that the store’s corporate headquarters are literally a straight shot down the road just a few, very short miles. Wouldn’t you think this store location would set the example in product selection and product display; but especially with excellent customer service standards?
But let’s consider three additional customer service points:
- 1) The customer had recently opened an in-store credit card. Granted, we don’t know why the customer opened the store account. It could have been just to save some extra money with the special discount stores offer on same day sales of new accounts. But I’ll give this customer benefit of the doubt. A customer with a store credit card versus using a Visa or MasterCard would appear to be a more loyal customer long term. So the manager should have recognized this and provided especially good service to the customer who could now just as easily cancel the account after the manager’s remarks. Quite frankly, who could blame him?
- 2) Whatever happened to “the customer is always right”? The tone of the manager’s voice clearly indicated he was not happy about the customer’s return. The return was a bother for him. He was aggravated by the interruption to his day. Regardless of why the customer was returning the item, isn’t this all just part of the job for a store manager? The role of the manager is to act as an example to employees of how things should be done.
- 3) Graciously accepting customer returns is one of the biggest opportunities to promote your business and customer loyalty. Most people don’t like to return products. When returns are handled properly, customers are not only likely to share the story with others but also become advocates of your product or service. That’s why many of the most well known companies offer generous return policies in order to make customers feel comfortable with their purchases but also to keep the customer feeling welcome enough to continue coming back to make future purchases.
I’ve seen it over and over again, where a company will spend millions of advertising dollars to get people into the store only to have those millions of dollars wasted because an employee was chewing gum, not paying attention to customers needing assistance or not having the information, let alone the right attitude, with the customer.
It isn’t enough to have great marketing. Your employees need to understand how vital customer service is to the success of the business. It takes constant employee training, monitoring and motivation. It begins with when you hire someone that you instill the concept, standards and expectations of customer service. If you are not willing to train employees properly, don’t waste your money on advertising. You will draw customers into your business but they may never return after they have an unpleasant experience with your employees.
Every sale is important. Business success begins with how your employees interact with every customer. Make every opportunity count for the continued success of your business.
To your success!