Customers are my number one priority and should be the same for any business. Having good customer service policies and procedures in place is a must and all staff should know and follow them at all times. In saying that, so should the 'boss' as he/she should be setting good examples and 'walk the talk'.
I have been involved in front line customer service since I was 16 when I started working in a supermarket as a check out operator (37 years ago). At the age of 23, I became an Assistant Manager for a large retail store, and then it became my role to attend to any customer complaints. This is when I learnt how staff training around customer service was crucial to the organisation.
Going back to my teens, I was trained by some of the best supervisors. Sure they were tough back then but I still carry their expectations with me today. We were expected to acknowledge and greet every customer that walked in the door with a smile and a hello. Answer the telephone within 3 rings. Go and talk to the customer and help them if needed, have a conversation whilst ringing up their products, use our manners when serving them and thank them for shopping with us and close by saying goodbye or see you next time.
No chewing gum, appropriate dress standard (no short skirts or low cut blouses) well groomed, clean and pressed clothing, clean and suitable footwear, etc., were some of our rules we had to adhere to. We even had a no tattoo and no love bite policy. If you had tattoo's or a love bite you had to wear a plaster! I don't have tattoos but in today's society I don't have a problem with them. In my personal opinion I don't think love bites look very nice on sales assistants but you may have your views on this.
Things have certainly changed but I will stick to what I have learnt and what I teach. Oh, after spending 15 years in retail management, I went on to serve 15 years in the Tertiary Education Sector, delivering the National Certificate in Retail and Business, along with many other roles. Customer service was a big part of the retail course, and I was able to draw on my previous work experiences, skills and knowledge which made the teaching easier.
Besides acknowledging your customer in a timely manner, being friendly, having a helpful attitude, listening actively, being attentive and responsive, and everything else that makes up excellent customer service, it is also vital that you follow through any promises you have made to the customer. Too many times I have encountered 'I'll ring you back tomorrow" but I'm the one ringing them back almost a week later. So it's very important to keep you customer updated, example, if there has been a delay in delivery, contact them and let them know what's happening. If you don't go through with your promises, it's more than likely that your customer will be dissatisfied and go elsewhere. Be polite when talking on the phone to customers and let them hang up first in case they think of something else.
Today we have so many large retail outlets and it is sometimes hard to find assistance. This is why I am pleased with my small shop as I am always on hand if needed. Plus it has other benefits like giving my customers my full attention and sometimes if it's quiet I am able to have long conversations. It's amazing what I can get from them, their name (this I can address them by when they next visit), where they live, how many children and or grandchildren they have, their travel plans or overseas visits, their shopping experiences and the list goes on. All this information helps me retain that relationship so when they return I can say for example 'Hi Mary how are you? Did you enjoy your cruise? Usually they are surprised that I remembered their name let alone the conversation we had. For me it's about establishing that rapport as soon as they walk in the door with a simple acknowledgement and making them feel welcome. I'm not there to make an immediate sale, to be honest I am not a pushy salesperson. I prefer my customers to have the opportunity to browse and not to be pressured into buying something as soon as they step in the door, although I do say "I'm just here if you need any assistance", and they will ask if they need anything.
So to answer the question...customer service to me means "going that extra mile for the customer, each time delivering just a little more than they expect" This is one of my key strategies as outlined below.
Gizzy Gifts And More is committed to becoming the leading local retailer of authentic giftware by providing our customers with a unique selection of quality products at competitive prices topped off with excellent customer service.
- Maintain excellent customer, supplier and community relations
- Ensure staff are trained to provide first class customer service
- Continue to go that extra mile for the customer, each time delivering just a little more than they expect.
- Increase the range of quality giftware products
- Maintain a high standard of product and store presentation.
You may have noticed that my mission statement and three of my key strategies are focused around customer service. I have this on my office wall next to my alarm system, and it's the first thing I see every morning and the last thing before I go home at night.