written by Shellie Bill
A few days ago, someone told me that I have so much more time than she does because I don’t have a husband or a dog to take care of. My immediate reaction was to recite everything that is on my things to do list on a daily basis. I won’t lie, I did tell her part of my list before I realized that it really didn’t matter anyway. I certainly didn’t want to get into a game of “one upping” each other and I wasn’t going to change her mind. How does anyone have any idea what another person does daily, right?!
Throughout that day, this interaction continually entered my thoughts and what should have been the correct response finally came to me. While on this earth, we all have the same 24 hours each day. None of us is given an extra hour here or there whether or not you are married or just by asking! Every one of us has the ability to use our time as we choose. It is up to each individual to decide how to use each moment of each day! There may be days that we have appointments or errands scheduled back-to-back, with little time in between and there may be days that we may be able to spend our time leisurely. The main thing is that it is our choice.
With that being said, it is our guests’ choice to use their precious time when they shop with us, whether it is online, on the phone or in person, so it is up to us to make their experience as pleasant as possible. I suggest taking time to evaluate everything from how you answer the phone to how you follow up after each guest’s visit. It is also important to evaluate all areas of customer service, basic housekeeping, marketing and merchandising. In the last issue I focused on after the sale, today I am focusing on customer service and starting at the very beginning, the moment your guest walks into your store.
My first suggestion to get started is to read through the information below, then go on a shopping field trip. Spend some time shopping other stores (anything from other jewelry stores to hardware stores) to determine what you like or don’t like and evaluate the changes that you would make to go the extra mile to provide an exemplary shopping experience for your guests.
Exceptional customer service starts by creating a standard for all of the associates in your store and exceeding the expectations of your guests at every opportunity. This begins when your guests enter your store. The store is your “home” during working hours and many of you may spend more waking hours there then you do at your own home, so treat it like your home! Think about how you like to be treated when you are visiting a friend’s home for the first time. How would you like to be greeted? Think about that, then set a standard for how your associates should greet the guests at your store.
The initial greeting should be similar to welcoming a guest into your home. It should be inviting, warm, friendly and sincere.
1. How quickly should a guest be welcomed when they walk into your store? I suggest welcoming them when they walk through the door. I personally like to be far enough away from the entrance so that it is not overwhelming to your guests when they walk in, but close enough so that it shows that you are waiting for them. This shows that they are your priority and not an interruption to your daily work. You are there for them and you know that their time is valuable! Many stores are in a position so that you can see when a car pulls into the parking lot. This allows you to be in a position to greet your guest when they enter. Even Walgreen’s welcomes you when you walk in! Just an FYI, if I walk into a store, walk to the back of the store and then back to the front, without at least having an associate say hello, I will leave without making a purchase, no matter how badly I needed an item. During the welcome, the associate should make eye contact and smile (behind the mask).
2. Following the welcome, it is important for your associates to introduce themselves to the guest and exchange names. If your store offers beverages, this is also the time to offer.
3. The associate should ask if the guest has shopped with the store before, if not, the associate should offer a tour of the store. During the tour, the associate should ask questions and listen to the responses. This will allow your associate to know what type of merchandise the guest may be interested in seeing during the visit.
This interaction may seem basic, but it is often forgotten and so important. This simple interaction will allow both the associate and the guest to become comfortable with each other and begin to build a relationship. Building a relationship does take time and effort, but this is important to building the foundation for not only the first meeting, but for all gift giving opportunities in the future. It is important that our first impression with our guests instills a sense of confidence and trust that can last a lifetime. This alone will show your guests that you know how important their time is and that you value both them and the value of their time. Spending a little extra time in the beginning, truly getting to know your guests will help everyone involved look forward to spending their precious time together. The most important thing is that you show each and every guest that they are truly important to you. This will show your guests that they are spending their time and money in the right place and will continue to do so for years to come.