Do you think that customer service in Trinidad and Tobago sucks?
Of course you do! You probably received bad service as recently as yesterday.
And while a handful of companies attempt to fix their service, few bother to do the same.
Large companies and small businesses are guilty of poor customer service.
In peak sales seasons, like Christmas, they put profit first… Not service.
But peak seasons are perfect for:
1. luring new customers and retaining them
2. delighting repeat customers
3. building customer loyalty.
You’re not just competing with other companies. You’re also competing with the ease of online shopping and skyboxes.
You’re competing with people’s frustration when they see that stores are crammed with shoppers.
So helpful customer service can differentiate your brand for savvy customers.
I’m assuming that if you’re still reading this article, it means that you care about customer service. You don’t use the excuse – “Trinis don’t boycott anything, and will still buy from us… even if our service is bad.”
So… how can you ensure that you deliver the type of service that impresses people?
Here are some tips.
1. Think like new customers
Richard Branson once said, “You can never go too far wrong by thinking like a customer who’s new to the business.”
Ask yourself, how do new customers view your brand? What would impress them? Anticipate their needs. See your business through their eyes.
2. Think long term
In retail, it’s easy to focus on short-term sales targets. Your company wants to make a profit during peak times like Christmas, Carnival, and Valentine’s Day (when the latter isn’t upstaged by Carnival). Your employees want their commission. That’s understandable.
However, pay attention to future customers.
Respect people who came to browse, but can’t buy now. Maybe they aren’t ready to purchase just yet, because they’re considering different options. How you treat them will determine if they’ll return to your store/company.
3. Help people to make decisions
Some of us enter a store with every intention of racking up our credit card debt. However, we’re not sure about what we want to buy.
Be willing to help.
Help customers to make a decision. You know the product better, so use your knowledge to help them decide what’s the best buy.
Help them to feel confident about their purchase. You don’t want 80% of your customers to have buyer’s remorse.
4. Don’t rush customers
While being attentive is important, please… don’t rush people, as they enter the store. This can ‘turn off’ prospective customers.
Allow the person to look around for a few moments, then ask if they need help. And floor managers, stop telling salespersons to approach the customer immediately. I know you want the sale, but timing is important.
5. Treat customers equally
Never forget… just because someone is dressed simply, that doesn’t mean that their pockets aren’t deep. Don’t approach the rich-looking customer, and ignore the person who you think can’t afford to buy that fancy dress in your showcase. You might miss out on making a huge sale.
6. Man your social media accounts
During peak sales seasons, customers tend to go online looking for information. Most times, they want that information directly from you.
If you have a Twitter account or Facebook page, be sure to check it to see if customers are making enquiries. Yes, even if you don’t update it frequently.
It also wouldn’t hurt to post an update or two, per week, so that when customers visit your timeline, they know that an administrator logs into the account, and will answer their questions.
7. Increase staff for peak seasons
Don’t hire one cashier, who will be overworked, when you know you’ll have heavy in-store traffic.
Increase your staff to make the shopping experience seamless and pleasant. This also prevents the lone employee on the floor from feeling overly stressed, and taking that stress out on customers.
8. Give employees power
Power to make decisions. Power to know they can use their initiative. This will improve their ability to negotiate with customers.
9. Don’t take customers’ behaviour personally
Customers don’t hate service staff. They hate their bad attitudes, slow service, and your company’s poor processes.
They’re stressed out, and bad customer service agitates them further.
Look for the pain or emotion behind people’s anger. Try to establish a rapport. Understand that they’re venting.
I know that some people can be unreasonable, but don’t respond to rudeness with rudeness. Stay calm, be firm, and be respectful. Staying calm keeps you in control of the situation.
If you can’t give them what they want, firmly, but kindly, show them that you understand their viewpoint, but that you need to operate within store policies.
Sometimes, showing a bit of empathy is all it takes for the customer to decide to ‘cool down’, and co-operate.
10. Use the right words
How your employees speak is a part of your brand. People associate your brand with the people who work for you.
Teach employees the value of diction. Their words affect people.
For example, instead of telling a customer, “You owe us_______”, they could try, “Our records show a balance of_____.”
That’s a more positive and persuasive approach.
11. Keep it simple and friendly
Customers just want your attention for thirty seconds or five minutes. Be personable, and show that you care about their needs.
Basically, treat them how you would like to be treated as a customer.
Customer service – at its core – is all about courtesy and consideration. Attract people, and earn their loyalty. Work on your systems, and your smiles.
Customers in Trinidad and Tobago might not always demand great service, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it.
Image credit: thestylemedic.com