Do You Have Happy Customers?
I’m a big fan of buying local. Often, I will bypass convenience for the ability to talk to a living breathing human being – to have an interaction, then make a purchase. I don’t think I’m alone.
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB
Recently, my wife Carolyn and I went to the local department store. We meandered through the beauty area, the clearance area, then the men’s and women's clothing departments. Sadly, not once were we greeted by a store employee. We made a few selections and headed to the dressing room. There was no staff presence at the dressing room, and the rooms were filled with clothing from previous customers.
We made our selections and went to the checkout line. This was the first time we encountered an employee. There was one person ahead of us with a pile of clothing on the counter. The cashier looked up, smiled and said, “This is going to take a while, thanks for your patience.”
We chose the clothing because it was on easily accessible clearance racks. We didn’t choose anything in the beauty/fragrance section because we were not helped, despite standing there for 11 minutes.
I came home, and within five minutes, I had the perfume/cologne we wanted thanks to Amazon. I thought to myself, why would I bother going to that store again?
Do local retailers realize why people shop in their store? My wife and I chose local to support the local economy, to have human contact and enjoy our shopping experience. None of that happened at this store.
If you sell to businesses and want to be a source of business advantage, you must provide advice and help as to how they can exceed their customers’ expectations. I find the best way to share this information is by sharing stories of my own experience. My experience has taught me that GREAT customer service is not that difficult to achieve. Use the acronym HAPPY:
1. H - Be helpful - Greet them when they arrive, return calls quickly and make sure your customers know they are the reason you are in business. Don’t make them feel like an interruption or inconvenience in your day.
2. A - Be attentive - Develop a relationship. Start by learning and using the customer’s name. Look for ways to make unique connections.
3. P - Be personal, not pushy - People are looking for guidance; they are not looking to be sold. They enjoy the process of buying, and no matter what the product, they always have questions or concerns that will need to be addressed.
4. P - Be Proactive - Say thank you, smile and show customers that you truly appreciate they are doing business with you. Make them feel good about their decision. If there are concerns or complaints, address them immediately.
5. Y - Be yourself - People like doing business with people – real people. Show your personality, be real. Smile and have fun engaging with your customers. Your positive attitude makes a huge difference.
The retail environment is tougher than it ever has been as we come out of the pandemic. There’s no denying staffing shortages, inventory shortages and a myriad of other issues facing your local retailers. As you strive to be the source of business intelligence and help your local retailers solve their problems, as opposed to just selling them advertising, have a conversation about these other, perhaps more challenging issues. It might be a good place to start. Online retail has the potential to replace local brick-and-mortar retail. That would be a sad outcome for all of us. You can help prevent that in your market by having difficult conversations with your retailers and helping them improve their customer experience.
Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.