Trends & Features

Customer satisfaction

Value for money. Service with a smile. Clean, open stores. Just three examples of what brings a customer back time and again. Not to mention attracting new customers.

With the country slowly emerging from the quagmire that was the recession, Britain’s shops are constantly on the lookout for a fresh batch of customers.

Surprising though it may seem, given Britain’s reputation for being somewhat grumpy and willing to criticise all too frequently, the Institute For Customer Service said that over 46 per cent of people thought that Britain was the best for treating customers well. The UK also achieved an average rating of 74 per cent in the Customer Satisfaction Index.

So what are the best ways of attracting new customers? Promotion is key, especially if you are just starting out in the industry. There are a whole host of ways in which you can promote your business. Printed promotional items such as leaflets, flyers and posters can be distributed all over your local area. Remember, keep the design simple but eye-catching without being too tacky.

Talking of print, it’s an idea to get on good terms with the local press. Local papers can provide excellent PR opportunities, so get in touch with the relevant journalists and try to keep in contact on a regular basis.

If you want to go for the more personal touch, how about arranging open evenings or special events? This is a good way of drawing in more people, and if the event is advertised in the correct fashion it has a good chance of wowing new people.

Graham Richards, brand director at Hilly, says: “Retailers need to be proactive and can never stop promoting the location and services provided by their business. For example, distributing leaflets at local races and to local gyms. They should also consider arranging open evenings, etc at local gyms and, likewise, make contact with local schools, businesses, for example.”

One sure-fire way of piquing the interest of passers-by is to advertise discounts and special offers. Other incentives such as loyalty cards or competitions are worth using, too. Sales, too, are a good way of giving customers a good deal, and they also help to get rid of older stock into the bargain.

Making the customer feel welcome is one of the key elements of attracting people into your store on an ongoing basis. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer. What sort of shop design do you like? What creates a good first impression? The typical answers to these questions include clear, easily accessible walkways, up-to-date displays, neat, well-stacked rows of products, clear lighting and attractive wall designs. Cramped, uncomfortable layouts will only create a sense of claustrophobia rather than an enjoyable shopping experience.

Also put yourself in the shoes of the customer when it comes to service. Customers want good, friendly, knowledgeable service that demonstrates an understanding of both people and the products. Grumpy, curt replies are one of the biggest customer turn-offs, as is a total lack of knowledge about the product.

Bosses should always ensure their staff are well trained in all aspects of their job, particularly when it comes to product knowledge. Poor recall will only turn the customer away. Having said that though, do not frighten or intimidate the customer by barging over to them and invading their space when they may be just browsing.

While this method of customer service at least shows you’re paying attention to the customer, as well as showing initiative, the downside of this approach is that it’s too much of a hard sell, and rather than trying to help, this type of service may intimidate.

Strike a happy medium that shows a genuine interest in the customer, without going too over the top. If a customer has a question or enquiry, they will either come to you or attempt to attract your attention.

When it comes to customer service, there are a number of important rules to follow. First off is customer interaction. Eye contact should be maintained with the customer – staring down at your shoes makes you look unprofessional.

Make sure that you listen to the customer, and what’s more, your body language should be reflecting this. You should be offering the customer visual clues that you are taking in what he or she has to say, so nod from time to time, repeat what the customer has said and keep your body language open and friendly, which means no folded arms or shuffling awkwardly from side to side.

When it comes to the all-important reply or advice, again there’s a fine line to tread. Try and offer advice without sounding too patronising or overbearing. If you are not sure of how to advise a customer, it is best to ask the nearest available member of staff who may have a better idea.

However, do not keep the customer waiting too long, and furthermore, don’t palm the customer’s request off onto someone else just for the sake of it, since this will put the customer off from returning.

It doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile, either. If the customer wants something in particular, say for example that they are looking for a particular item, rather than tell them where it is, actually lead them to the item.

A customer will usually remember quality service and special attention, so it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll come back for more. Indeed, a Microsoft survey confirmed this. It asserted that small retailers should opt for the personal touch when it comes to customer service and attracting customers. Over half of those surveyed as first-time customers in a new store claimed that personalised service would make them return to the shop.

John Lewis was voted the country’s favourite retailer by retail consultancy Verdict recently. In particular, it scored points for quality products and good customer service.

John Lewis’ director of selling operations, David Barford, was quoted as saying: “Customers are loyal to us because we offer maybe not the very lowest prices, but we offer quality – and that’s value. And the big factor is trust. In turbulent times, if something goes wrong with a purchase a customer wants to know that they will be looked after.”

And as Graham Richards says, one of the most important factors to entice new customers is: “Working on the basis that the store will stock quality products, then without doubt, customer service.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button