Stellar Customer Service
The company that I work for, The Lulawissie Gas and Grocery, has produced a number of training videos for its employees (or “associates” as they like to refer to them) to coach them in virtually every facet of customer interaction. We have been given a script to follow when approaching customers and we are not supposed to waver from that prescribed dialog. But if every associate approached every customer with the same phrase or line, then pretty soon they would catch on and become annoyed because they can tell that we were not sincere. Customers are not stupid. They can recognize a robot when they see or hear one.
Get To Know Your Clientele
I have been at the Gas and Grocery for nearly 5 years. During that time, I have gotten to know nearly all of my regular customers on a first name basis. I know what their buying habits are, and what their families like to eat. This kind of relationship does not happen overnight. Most shoppers come in twice or three times a week, and after several weeks or months, you can easily predict what they will buy. I like to use each opportunity to pick their brains ever so slightly to learn more about how I can better serve them. I try to remember what their last purchase was, or what I recommended to them two visits ago. Once you can associate a customer’s face with a certain product, that will make the customer feel more like you actually cared what their shopping experience was like. After a while, I can make sure that I have a certain cut in the case on a certain day because I know that “Julie” or “Bob” will be in looking for it.
When I go into a store, the last thing that I want to hear is “Are you finding everything okay?” or “How can I help you today?” To me it is like walking onto a used car lot and being assaulted by salesmen. What I really want is to be left alone, but to know that there is an associate nearby if I really need one. So naturally, I allow my customers the same courtesy. Instead of the usual “Can I help you?” in a disinterested sort of way, I talk to them like real people, like I want to be talked to. I like to approach people like I have already met them, whether I have or not. “Hey, what’ sup?”, or “How’s it going today?” This type of approach seems to break the ice in a casual, friendly way. From that point on, the conversation takes off. If it is a familiar face, and I know his or her name, I approach them even more informally, “Hi, Mary” or “Hey, Scott!” I never try to hard sell or push any items down a customer’s throat. If it feels right, I will let them know what is on sale, and step back to let them shop.
“Browsers” will just walk slowly and steadily down your aisles and fresh cases, searching for something to leap out at them. “Buyers” know what they want, go straight for it, pick it up and walk out. “Shoppers” pick things up and put them back, over and over again until they settle on something. But you have to look for the “Puzzled” ones. They are the ones that have a worried or confused look on their face, and usually welcome a helpful associate. They are the ones that need a certain something, but can’t find it, or worse, don’t know what it is yet. This is where your knowledge comes in, and you can usually help them find what they need.
Suggest Companion Items
If a customer is buying a steak, suggest a vegetable side dish. If it is a roast, suggest gravy or a sauce. Help each shopper as if you were shopping yourself.
Don’t be over bearing. Don’t be aggressive or flirtatious. Give attention to all customers equally, and be polite. There will be times when a customer is rude, demanding and abusive. It is nothing personal, don’t take it that way. Always be nice. Again, don’t be over bearing.
Well, I hope that helps those of you in the customer service business. Many different methods of dealing with clientele work differently for many people. I am open to suggestions that you may have as either a retail service rep or a customer. If you are ever down here in Lulawissie, feel free to stop in at the Gas and Grocery and introduce yourself. I will treat you to a soda at our full service fountain.
As always my friends, do good deeds for people that you don’t know. Give the Good Lord thanks for everything, and stay healthy. I bid you peace.
©2012 by Del Banks