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Category: Customer Expectations

Measuring the Right Result

This is the year of confessions. I’ve told you I don’t like cleaning up and filing things away. I’ve admitted I only went to the University of Michigan to get football tickets. As much as it pains me to be one, I’ve even admitted I’m a Detroit Lions fan.

I have one more confession. I love musical theater. I get cranked up watching Broadway shows. I even get excited watching live Broadway-esque performances like the one Neil Patrick Harris did here.

Image result for disney newsiesLast night I watched Disney’s Newsies on Netflix. Not the 1992 movie starring Christian Bale but a filmed stage production. Loved it!

While reading more about the production on IMDb.com, I noticed it had a pretty high rating from the public. I started reading reviews and and they were mostly 10’s. The reviews that weren’t so stellar didn’t talk about the acting or singing or dancing or storyline. They talked about camera angles and editing of camera shots.

One person gave it a 4 solely because of the choppy editing of the dance sequences. Tough critic.

It got me thinking about how we measure success of our business and how our customers measure success of our business. The two criteria are completely different.

Your customer considers your business a success if she comes in, gets what she needs, and feels good about it. You consider your business a success if you can pay all your bills and make some money for yourself. Two completely different sets of measurements, yet when you stop and think about it, the more you take care of your customer, the more likely you’ll have enough business to pay all your bills and make some money for yourself.

You need to measure what is important to your customers as much as you measure what is important to you.

Notice that I didn’t say, “instead of.” I said, “as much as.” You need to measure both.

You need a method of keeping track of how many times you say, “No we don’t.” to a customer request. I have a friend who has a “No List” she keeps by the cash register just for that purpose. Every time a customer asks for something they don’t have, the staff has to write it down. She figures if a lot of customers come in believing she might have a certain item, then it would be in her best interest to look into carrying that item.

You need a method of tracking how many customers are repeat and referral customers. Only customers who get their needs met and feel good about it will come back and bring their friends. If those numbers are rising, your customer service is succeeding.

Inventory levels, cash flow, profit margin, and sales are all important and need to be tracked, but they are as much a result of the first two numbers as anything else. The more your customers think of your business as a success, the better those other numbers will be.

If you have a lot of items on your No List then you need to figure out why your customers have such a different view of your business than you do. If you have a lot of new customers not referred by a friend, then either you’re a tourist destination, your advertising is stellar, or you need to up your game on taking care of your customers.

When your customers come in, get what they need, and leave feeling good, that’s the singing, acting, and dancing that gets you the standing ovation.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Speaking of measuring the right things, here is the survey that the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) uses for the presentations at their Academy.

Here are the averages of the survey responses from your presentation, “Cash is King & You are the Advisor:”

1—Unsatisfied  4—Completely Satisfied

Did the presentation meet your expectations based on the session description? Were you satisfied with the speaker(s) level of knowledge on the topic? Rate your overall satisfaction with this session:
3.9 4 3.9

Those of you who have followed this blog a long time know that the three things I stress the most about Customer Service are:

  1. You have to meet your customer’s expectations. (Question #1)
  2. You have to build trust. (Question #2)
  3. You have to leave them feeling good about the transaction. (Question #3)

Did the audience come in, get what they needed, and feel good about it? Those results were my standing ovation.

A Fresh Set of Eyes Sees What You’re Missing

Get in a circle of store owners and say the words “Mystery Shopper” and watch the eyes begin to roll. We all hate them or, if that’s too strong a word, think quite low of them.

The problem? Mystery shoppers tend to only take a snapshot of a single moment in your store with no regards to what is going on around them. They evaluate your entire operation based on one interaction, one done-under-false-pretenses-just-to-see-how-you-react interaction at the most inopportune time with the least talented member of your team.

Not fair.

The biggest problem with the Mystery Shopper concept is that most business owners are quick to dismiss the findings as being only a snapshot in time and not a true reflection of your business.

Then again, a new customer walking through your doors will only get a snapshot of a single moment in your store with no regards to what is going on around them. The only difference is that this customer won’t offer you any feedback to help you improve.

You need a fresh set of eyes. You need someone else to help you see the flaws that have blended into the landscape. You need someone to:

  • Look at the appearance of the store from the front. Is it clean? Is it inviting?
  • Walk through the door and give you an honest first impression. Does it smell funny? Is it inviting?
  • Look at the little details like signage and order and cleanliness and lighting and decor. Does the store look or feel worn and dated? Does the store feel dark and dirty or bright and happy? Do the signs even apply anymore? Does the merchandising draw you in?
  • Get a first impression of the staff. Are they welcoming or huddled for safety and comfort?

A fresh set of eyes can identify the subtle turn-offs you stopped seeing years ago. A fresh set of eyes can show you what you look like at your worst, which is far more important than what you look like at your best.

Before listing my house I had a few fresh sets of eyes look it over. We found a door that needed painting. We found a roof area that needed cleaning. We found some rooms that needed re-decorating. We found an outlet cover that was broken. We found paint peeling on the outdoor furniture. We found a mess of cobwebs in the light at the end of the driveway. We found bushes and tree branches and vines that needed trimming. We found a tree that needed to be cut down. We found thirty two cans of paint that needed to be removed.

Individually those are all minor in the grand scheme of life. Collectively, however, they create a perception different from the one I want the people looking at my house to feel. It took more than one fresh set of eyes to find it all.

Get a few friends, preferably ones who do not regularly shop in your store (I know you have them—we all have them). Give them a list of things you want them to notice (the above list is a good start). Then invite them all over to your house for pizza and beer and sharing. You’ll be amazed at what they see, and if you’re honest enough to listen to them without getting defensive, you’ll make sure the “worst” experience anyone has in your store is better than the best at your competitors.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Don’t think you aren’t blind to seeing things right under your nose. We all are. When I closed Toy House, we found almost $10,000 worth of “missing” merchandise that had been written out of stock over the years. Most of it was in places we looked almost every day. We found signs that should have been taken down years ago. Get some fresh eyes in your store now before the holiday rush starts creeping up on you. That’s worth a few pizzas and beer, right?

The Sales Rep I Fired and the Sales Rep I Wanted

I used to be on the receiving end of sales calls and pitches. Now, as a business consultant (and also in my new role as a salesman selling logo merchandise and apparel*), I’m on the giving end. As you know, I like to look at every interaction from the other person’s point of view to make sure I meet, then exceed, their expectations. My experience on the receiving end of this role reversal will help me tremendously.

I’ve only ever asked one person to leave the Toy House in my twenty three years as a buyer. It was a sales rep. He sold a couple higher-end furniture and gear lines for the baby product industry that I was interested in bringing in. Here is the opening conversation …

Sales rep: Hey. Sorry I’m late. Had to make a phone call.

Me: Hey. You must be Tim. I’m Phil. Welcome to Toy House.

Sales rep: No wonder you don’t sell any gliders. Your department is a holy mess!

Me: We just had a customer in trying all the chairs and moving them around so that she could see different ones side-by-side.

Sales rep: Here. Let me show you the order I just wrote for (a competitor to the east). See how many chairs they ordered? Now that’s a baby store! You know, I used to call on your father years ago. He was a real asshole.

Me: I think we’re done here. You need to leave. Now. You’ve just insulted my store, my father, and my sensabilities. Thank you for stopping by but I will not be needing your services.

I’m pretty sure he walked away thinking “like-father-like-son.” I’m okay with that.

Here is what I liked in a salesperson:

  • Someone who called or emailed to make an appointment when he had something new to show or special terms to offer.
  • Someone who made it clear why the appointment was necessary, what we would discuss, and how long it would likely take so that I could plan accordingly.
  • Someone who showed up on time and was friendly and polite.
  • Someone who showed up completely prepared with catalogs, prices, order forms, a charged computer (if necessary), and answers to the most frequently asked questions.
  • Someone who followed through with the order giving me updates on the processing and shipping of the order.
  • Someone who called me after the order was shipped to make sure I got it and that everything came in properly without problems.

I didn’t always get that—especially those last two—but when I did, it was magical. Those are the sales reps I trusted. Those are the sales reps who got my business whenever possible. Those are the sales reps I most enjoyed seeing in my store. Those are the sales reps I think about when I’m making pitches.

Sure, building a relationship is an important part of selling, maybe even the most important part. I can promise you this, though. Those six bullet points above will help you build a relationship with your client that will be as rock solid as if you were high school besties.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I’m talking about sales reps to a bunch of retailers, here are four reasons:

  • I have plenty of sales reps who read this blog.
  • You have the chance to “train” your sales reps to do their job the way you want it done.
  • In many ways, this applies to your salespeople on your sales floor, too.
  • To show you one more example why you should always look at everything from your customer’s point of view. Then try to meet and exceed their expectations. Can’t hammer that point home hard enough.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I had several salespeople I truly liked. Yes, we had fun talking shop. Yes, we went out for lunch or got Hinkley’s doughnuts. Yes, we talked about family. But if they didn’t show up prepared, if they screwed up orders, or if they disappeared when there were problems, all that other stuff was for naught.

*If you want your logo imprinted on pens, notepads, water bottles, mugs, blankets, shirts, caps, even pizza cutters, shoot me an email before you order. At the very least, I’ll make sure you’re getting a good deal wherever you might be buying your stuff. If you order through me, you know I’ll follow through to the end to make sure you’re satisfied because I know that’s what you want.

What to Do the First Time It Happens

Every July for our Summer Fun Sale we would mark down thousands of old, slow-selling, discontinued merchandise to ridiculously low prices to move out that merchandise, generate some cash, and get ready for the upcoming holiday season. With close to a million dollars in inventory, the process was quite tedious and time consuming. Every single sale price had to be manually entered into our Point-Of-Sale system.

Sometimes we missed one (or three).

The staff was instructed to carefully watch prices as they scanned items at checkout to make sure they were coming up at the sale price, and to make changes immediately whenever a mistake was found. If it didn’t ring up right the first time, it was quickly corrected and the customer sent on her happy way.

Image result for bad retail sale signsYet every single one of us can recall a time in our own lives as customers when something didn’t ring up right and you didn’t go on your happy way.

You get to the register expecting a certain price and it rings up higher. You say something to the cashier. His first response is to tell you that he doesn’t know about the sale or that he can only go by what the computer tells him. His second response is to look you straight in the eye and tell you he doesn’t trust you by phoning for someone else to go check the display. His third response is to tell you that “they” didn’t put the right signs on the display and that the item you had didn’t qualify for that discount/coupon/special deal. Yes, blame it on the faceless “they.” His fourth response is to get a manager who goes through the first three responses all over again before deciding to either give you the discount the signs says you should get or hide behind corporate speak to not give you the discount.

Either way you walk out of the store feeling like a loser.

Do you want your customers walking out of the store feeling like a loser? Of course not. Chicken dinners for everyone!!

Here’s how you do it when you have a pricing mistake.

“Oh my gosh! I am so sorry. Let me go verify what the price is supposed to be.” 

Say all that. Apologize. Go check the price (the above is a safe statement that doesn’t accuse them of lying). Then, regardless of the outcome, give that person the price they expected with another round of apologies for the confusion.

It doesn’t matter if someone did the signage wrong and that item is not supposed to be on sale. It doesn’t matter if the customer was confused because the signage wasn’t clear enough. It doesn’t matter if the customer interpreted the sign to mean something you didn’t intend it to mean. The first time a customer perceives something different than what you intended, you give them what they thought they were going to get. Then you go fix the signs and displays and prices so that there won’t be any more confusion.

Always give the first customer the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t cost you that much in the long run because you keep the customer happy. Plus, you learn quickly how others might perceive your sales or signs, and you fix the problem before anyone else gets upset.

“I’m really sorry about this. Those weren’t supposed to be included in the 25% off sale, but that’s our fault for not putting the signs up correctly. I’ll give you the 25% off on this item. Will that be okay?”

You’re going to make mistakes. Own up to them. Pay for them. Make the customer happy. Then go correct the mistake. That’s the key to winning customers’ hearts.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Even when the customer interpreted the sign wrong, you should still take some of the blame. Make sure your signs, sales, specials are bullet-proof by making them as clear and detailed as possible so that there is little chance of confusion.

PPS Every now and then you get the customer trying to cheat the system. They find an error like improper signage and load up their cart with everything on the shelf. That’s the exception to the above rule. You just better hope it was honest confusion about the sign, otherwise they might have a leg to stand on.

PPPS When you pay for your mistakes, not only do you make the customers happy, you build a level of trust. Your customers will be more likely to take you at your word when you take financial responsibility for your errors.

Two Ears and One Mouth

George Whalin was the last guy you wanted sitting next to you on an airplane. George was a retail consultant and public speaker (and one of my inspirations). George loved retail. A vacation to him meant a trip to The Grand Bazaar in Turkey followed by a trip to their local mall to contrast the old with the new.

Retail Superstars Book

When George sat next to you on an airplane, he peppered you with questions. “What’s your favorite place to shop and why?”

That was the question he asked every flight into Michigan that got Bronner’s and Toy House included in his book Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America. When he heard the same answers over and over he knew those places must be special.

“The questions you ask are more important than the things you could ever say.” -Tom Freese

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” -Naguib Mahfouz

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” -Anthony Robbins

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” -Stephen R. Covey

One of the most important lessons George taught me was that every customer has a different need to fill. Every customer comes through the door for a reason uniquely their own. Our job as salespeople is simply to find out that reason. You don’t do that by talking. You do that by listening.

“No man ever listened himself out of a job.” -Calvin Coolidge

“Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking.’ But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of your job.” -Roy Bartell

George got to the top of his craft not because of what he said, but because of what he learned and the relationships he made. He knew how to ask the right questions and listen to the answers. He was fascinated by you. If you ever did sit next to George on an airplane, you probably still would consider him a friend.

“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them than you can in two years by making them interested in you.” -Dale Carnegie

Ask and listen. Your customers want to tell you why they are here.

-Phil Wrzesinski
wwwPhilsForum.com

Image result for fired up! selling bookPS I got all of the quotes for today’s post from a new book called Fired Up! Selling. It is the best quote book I have ever seen. (Disclaimer, I was one of over 1000 judges that got to help select the quotes for the book so I might be biased, but with that many business people choosing the quotes, you know the quotes are going to resonate. No, that is not an affiliate link. Just me telling you this book is cool and will make a great gift for someone you know. Shop local.)

Breaking Down Our Phone Greeting

“Thank you for calling the Toy House. How can I help you?”

That was the greeting I trained my staff to use every time they answered the phone. Twelve words in a specific order for specific reasons. Let’s break it down …

“Thank you for calling …”

Image result for mom on phoneWe were a toy store. Imagine who might be calling a toy store. A mom? Sure. A mom with kids running around playing at her feet? Likely. A mom trying to juggle two or three things at once? Ding, ding, ding. Half of her focus is on something other than the phone.

By using an opening phrase like, “Thank you for calling …” before saying the words “Toy House”, we give her a chance to regain her focus. In that split second she recognizes that someone has answered, that someone is a male voice, that someone is speaking English. By the time we get to the words she most needs to hear to know she called the right place—“Toy House”—she has dialed her focus into our voice.

Have you ever called someplace and they said the store name so fast you weren’t sure you called the right place? That doesn’t happen with this script. You give your customer time to focus on the call so that she hears the name of the store clearly.

The other thing this phrase corrects is the employee so in a hurry to answer the phone that he is saying the store name before the receiver even gets to his mouth.

Also, we begin with the words “Thank you.” There is no better greeting for a retailer. They didn’t have to call you. They could go online. They could go elsewhere. They called you. Be grateful. Say thanks.

“How can I help you?”

This is a question that indicates you are ready for the customer to begin talking and you are ready to listen. I have called stores where they simply say the store name and then shut up. There is usually an awkward silence at that point. Not only is this question polite, but it makes the conversation go much more smoothly. Plus, it reinforces in your own staff the importance of listening.

Notice that I don’t instruct my staff to give out their name at this point. There is a reason behind that. The initial person answering the phone is rarely the person answering the question. As you remember from the previous post, the four questions most commonly asked are:

  • Can I speak to (a person or the manager)?
  • Can I speak to (a department)?
  • Do you have (a product)?
  • How late are you open?

The customer is likely to remember only one name and usually it is the first name they hear. If the customer asks for a department or has a specific question, the person that greets them at that time is instructed to give out his or her name. “You have reached the baby department. This is Phil. How can I help you?”

This way the customer is only given one name to remember, the name of the person who gave her the greatest help and the name she would need to remember if she called back.

At the end of the day, a customer calling your store wants three things.

  • To know that she called the right store
  • To be treated with respect
  • To get the information she needs

When you train your staff on these little details, your chances for meeting the customer’s expectations go up exponentially.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You don’t have to use the same script I used. The most important thing is that you have a script and train the little details like answering the phone with whatever greeting makes most sense for you. Just don’t leave it to chance or happenstance. When you don’t train your staff on these little details your chances for failing your customers go up exponentially, too.

What if You Don’t Train Them and They Stay?

There is an old story of two managers discussing staff training. The first manager objects to training saying, “What if we train them and they leave?” The second manager replies, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”

My friends, knowing I write this blog, send me examples of experiences they have all the time. This one that happened last night …

My friend walked into a restaurant. The hostess eyed her from the moment she walked through the door all the way to the hostess stand. The hostess didn’t say a word. Not. A. Word. My friend had to initiate the conversation. Talk about awkward.

Image result for old-fashioned telephoneOne of the first skills all of my new employees learned was how to use the phone. We learned how to answer it, exactly what to say (yes, the greeting was scripted), and how to respond to questions. We even talked about the importance of smiling while on the phone because people can actually hear a smile. (Try it with your friends. Grin broadly while talking on the phone until the person on the other end of the line asks whats so funny.)

I taught the phone skills first for a number of reasons.

  • It made them feel helpful right off the bat.
  • It set the tone for the attitude I expected from them in front of customers.
  • It helped me gauge their communication skills.

Answering the phone was easy because there were pretty much only four questions that got asked …

  • Can I speak to (a person or the manager)?
  • Can I speak to (a department)?
  • Do you have (a product)?
  • How late are you open?

For the first three questions, no matter who answered the phone, you would typically put them on hold. The last one even the newbies on the staff could answer.

The cool thing was watching them practice their phone answering skills. The outwardly friendly staff members had no problem smiling and speaking joyfully. The rest, I knew I would have to work with them on their communication skills a little more.

This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Communication skills are important. You can no longer take for granted that people know what to say and how to say it. You have to teach it and practice it. By starting early with a communication skill, I set the tone for how important proper communication would be and what I expected.

If you aren’t teaching proper communication skills you just might end up with a hostess who doesn’t know that it is her job to say, “Hello!”

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The script for answering the phone was simple. “Thank you for calling the Toy House. How may I help you?” I’ll break that statement down completely in a following post.

Does Your Advertising Match the Experience?

How many times have you heard a radio ad that sounded something like this?

Phil’s Toys is the leader in selling hard-to-find toys. We have thousands of toys in stock. We won’t be undersold! Our customer service is unbeatable and we always offer the best deals. Phil’s Toys has the best toys ever! If you haven’t been to Phil’s Toys, you need to check it out! Located on Main Street right by the clock tower. Go to Phil’s Toys dot com and check out our every day deals. (517) 555-1111. That’s (517) 555-1111 or Phil’s Toys dot com for the best selection, best prices and best services on all your toy needs. (517)-555-1111. Call Phil’s Toys today!!

Pretty much all of them, right?

Image result for boringMultiple unsubstantiated claims. Zero emotions. No representation of your Core Values.

Boring.

Most people will ignore that ad. The few that don’t ignore it will remember one of three points—that you have tons of products, cheap discount prices, and excellent customer service.

But what happens when your customers walk in to find you have a fraction of the products of your big chain competitors, prices that are fair but on the high side, and customer service that is decent but nothing to write home about?

Sure, you have good products. You’re selling a higher grade product than the chains. You’re selling lesser-known but better solutions than your customers are used to seeing. You have fewer choices because you’ve curated down to only the best options. But that isn’t what your ad said.

Sure you have good prices. Thanks to MAP, no one has prices consistently lower than yours (except for the rogue website or two that drives Amazon down temporarily until you complain to your vendor.) No one has prices any higher either. The prices are fair, if not inspiring. But that’s not what your ad said.

Sure you have great service. At least you think you do because customers tell you they love you and you get great reviews on Facebook. That’s the problem with customer service, though. There is no set definition in all customers’ minds what great service looks like. Just because you aren’t bumbling, gum-chewing, idiots like your competitors doesn’t mean you’re meeting your customer’s expectations. but that’s not what your ad said.

If you make an unsubstantiated claim in your advertising, most people won’t believe it (if they heard it at all.) Those few that do believe it better not be disappointed when they show up in your store. Otherwise they will become your greatest critics which is worse than them not showing up at all.

Whether you change your ads or change the experience, the ad and experience have to match to be effective.

Here is one way you could talk about your customer service that is interesting and more substantive …

The box wasn’t unusually heavy.  Awkward?  Yes.  But not too cumbersome.  Getting it into the trunk was fun.  The top first, a little twist here, and finally a big push.  The customer looked at me and said, “I probably should have brought the van.”  I laughed, “Next time.”  A couple of thank you’s and she left with a smile.  I had a happy customer, and a little fresh air.  Ahh, we love carrying the big stuff out to your car.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.  But next time bring the van.

That is a true story from a time I was carrying a box out to a customer’s cars. It illustrates one of our services, but more importantly paints the picture of the level of service we offer.

Here’s another true story …

I served them ice cream.  8:30 in the morning and I served my staff ice cream.  Some looked at me like I was crazy.  Others dug right in.  Yeah, I’m a little unconventional that way.  Kinda like how we staff the store.  I have more staff on the floor than stores double our size.  Some think I’m crazy.  Others love it.  There’s always someone available to help you.  It takes a little more ice cream, but it’s worth every scoop.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.

This one tells you one important point—we have “more staff on the floor than stores double our size.”

Stories are far more illustrative and effective at getting your point across in a way people will notice and remember. When you show customers what you do, you are substantiating your claim and making it more believable. When you tell a true story you also make it more memorable.

Show people what you have done to help them see what they can expect when they visit. Not only will your ads be more interesting, they will match the experience your customers have in the store perfectly.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Here’s one more substantiated claim …

On a slow day we gift wrap about fifty packages.  On a busy day it’s closer to five hundred quickly and neatly wrapped gifts.  Why do we do it?  Because your time and money are valuable and this is how we help.  After fifty-six years and over five hundred miles of giftwrap, we’re pretty darn good at it.  Sure, there are a few hundred of our thirty thousand toys we just can’t wrap.  For everything else, let us do the work.  We like to wrap.  Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

Case Study: Taking Care of the Customer Science Safari Style

My buddy, Sean, owns a toy store in Cary, North Carolina called Science Safari. I am sharing his story as he posted it on FB …

Image result for science safari north carolina“Weird occurrence… It’s happened twice in the last week. I certainly don’t mind, but I’ve never seen it in 30 years of retail nor ever thought of doing it as a parent…

“I had two people print up their own (unauthorized/counterfeit) Science Safari Gift Certificates and give them to their child. One for a class and one for $10 from the Tooth Fairy (side note, what kind of Tooth Fairy hands out $10 notes?!?). 

“The parents made good on them, giving me the money on the sly.

“Strange, but I’ll take your money.”

Yes, two different parents had the idea to print up unauthorized gift certificates to his store and give them to their kids. What would your first thought be if a customer handed you an unauthorized gift certificate?

Then the parents paid him on the sly for those “gift certificates” and the kids got to use them in the store.

Three thoughts come to mind.

First, Sean should be honored that parents, when trying to come up with a cool last-minute gift, thought of his store first. That’s when you know you’re already playing the customer service game right.

Second, here are a couple of parents who need to work on their planning ahead skills.

Third, and most importantly, as strange as this occurrence was, Sean and his team didn’t hesitate one second to allow it to happen. “Strange, but I’ll take your money.” Sean served those customers the way they wanted to be served. Sean made those last-second-forgot-to-plan-ahead customers look like heroes to their kids. Sean said, “Yeah, we’ll take care of you.”

As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

That, my friends, is what winning the customer service game looks like.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Making your customers feel like, look like, or be the hero is always the right thing to do. Always.

PPS If you live anywhere near Cary, NC, put Science Safari on your radar. It is definitely a store worth visiting.

They Thought They Had Helped

I went into a sporting goods store looking for a walking stick. Unlike most guys, I’m not afraid to ask for help in a retail store. I approached the first clerk I saw and asked, “Do you have any walking sticks?”

“I don’t know. Let me ask someone …
She doesn’t know, either. If we did they would be in camping.”

Then the clerk walked away, thinking she had been incredibly helpful.

Fortunately for me, I had been in this store before and knew where the camping section was. Unfortunately for me, I was looking for a tall, skinny item, not thinking that walking sticks telescope down to almost nothing. A quick walk down the camping aisle proved fruitless, so I asked another clerk in the area about walking sticks.

“Did you see any in the camping aisle?”

“No.”

“Then we must be sold out. Sorry.”

Then the clerk walked away thinking he had been helpful.

Both clerks engaged with me. Both answered my questions. Both walked away thinking they had given me good customer service. I was about to walk out empty-handed, but on my return trip down the camping aisle, I happened to notice a small, skinny box down in the corner. Upon closer inspection, they had three different types of walking sticks in stock on their shelves, just not in the packaging I was expecting.

I got my walking stick, no help from the clerks who thought they were helping me.

I tell you this as a cautionary tale. If your staff training consists of teaching your staff to engage with customers and answer their questions, you are likely losing sales. The two clerks both did that for me, but neither solved my problem. If instead of answering questions, they were taught to solve my problem, the interaction would have been different.

“She doesn’t know either. If we had any, they would be in camping. Let me walk you over to camping and help you look.”
“She doesn’t know either. Let me look it up on the computer and see what it says.”
“She doesn’t know either. Let me ask the buyer for camping.”
“She doesn’t know either. Let me call another store to see if they have any.”

Notice that neither of the clerks asked me any questions to clarify what I wanted or why I wanted it. Neither offered to walk over and look with me. Neither offered to take my name and call me when they got more walking sticks in. Neither suggested another store where I might find the item I needed. Neither offered to look in their system to see if they even sold walking sticks. Yet they both engaged with me and answered my questions. They walked away thinking they had helped.

Don’t assume your customers know what they are looking for. Don’t assume your customers know where to look. Don’t assume just because you answered a question, you’ve offered any level of service. It isn’t great customer service until the customer’s reason for coming in has been fully resolved.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS We kept an Internet-wired computer up front because sometimes customers would ask for items by a different name than we knew or a different version of a product we carried. A quick search on Google showed us what the customer wanted and helped us either find it or offer an alternative solution.

PPS Every customer that walks through your door did so for a reason. Your staff’s job is to connect and engage with that customer well enough that they tell you their reason and ask for assistance. When you take on the mindset of solving their problems, resolving their issues, then you are on your way to great customer service.