Exceed the customer’s expectations

We’ve all been told that customer is king and we need to look after them. But just how important is that? And, more important, how do we do that? It’s much easier to offer that personal touch if you have a bricks and mortar store. Seeing your customers (or browsers) face to face can make it much easier for you to offer some TLC and really engage with your customers. Online businesses need to work a little harder to offer some “virtual” TLC!

Physical Shops

Aim to exceed their expectations; Take good care of the exterior of your store, a clean doorway, brushed floor, smart signage all make good first impressions. Is your shop easy to find – based on google maps or your directions on your website / facebook page? Is your phone number visible in case your customers can’t find you… you don’t want to lose a sale before the customer has even entered your shop! Parking… don’t take up the one and only parking spot in front of your shop with your own car, or staff members… leave it available for customers.

Eye contact and a cheerful greeting as they enter your store is needed, give the customer time to browse but check they are ok and ask if they need assistance. We’ve all been in stores and been totally hounded by sales assistants, or felt like the sales assistance is indirectly pressurising us to buy something. We would never want our customers to feel like this. It’s a skill to judge the fine line between hassle and helping.

When serving your customer, imagine you are helping a friend, maintain your customer service but you can have a conversation, you can ask questions – where are they going to wear the outfit, who is the gift for, what are they using the item for? Customers (and humans) love to talk about themselves and their lives, and they generally will love to chat!

The way to go above and beyond your customer service levels is in the finishing touches; gift wrapping, ordering the item in another size, offering an alteration service, offering a loyalty discount…

Ecom Stores

Online businesses have it a little more challenging as your customer is not front facing, so you have to exceed their expectations without being in front of them! Good customer service with online browsers is all in creating a very seamless flow, making the transaction from browser to buyer as easy and quick as possible. It’s rare these days for customers to browse the “about us” page, but if they do happen to land on it, remember that the page isn’t really all about you! It’s there for you to demonstrate to the customer how you understand them, what they are shopping for, and that you are about to show them an array of wonderful products that are all perfect for your customer.

When your customer arrives on your website, they need to instantly know what your business is all about. Good clear images, are essential. Great copy, that reads well (not for google SEO) and contains all information that your customer will be interested in – size, weight, dimensions, material, packaging, safety standards, colour, design etc …and most importantly…PRICE!

Hoping that your customer wants to buy your item, make it glaringly obvious to your customer how to pop the item in their basket and checkout. Large and Clear BUY BUTTONS are needed, a Basket that the customer can see from any page in your site (and can instantly click on the basket to checkout).

How easy is it for your customer to pay? Gone are the days when sites forced you to “create an account”, the customer hates this! Your customer should be able to checkout and pay in less than 3 steps. Have you tried a dummy sale, testing the checkout process yourself?

Once you have gained a sale, that’s when you can really demonstrate to the customer that you are a credible retailer. Communicate with your customer, ensure a receipt / order acknowledgement is sent swiftly ( many ecom systems send this automatically) and don’t forget your service levels. Within how many days is the customer expecting the goods? Work quicker, pick, pack and despatch that parcel to arrive quicker. Even if you don’t offer gift wrapping as an option, do take some care in your parcels. Good quality postal bags, enclose a despatch note, add details on how to return the item, and ensure your branding is inside the parcel on all paperwork and return address labels. A lovely added touch that I always love is a hand written note or card thanking the customer for their order. You have the chance to retain that customer by exceeding their expectations, and hand writing a note adds that personal touch.

As a small retail business, you can gain huge advantages over the major, multiple retailers – they won’t consider or spend time on the little extra touches detailed above because they are complacent and reliant on customers buying from them because of who they are. This is your chance to shine as a small retail business. What are you waiting for?

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