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Christmas Quick Tip #18 – Cut Them Some Slack

We’re almost to the end of your very busy season. These posts have been short and sweet to keep you moving. Hope you have found them helpful.

Here is tip #18 …

CUT THEM SOME SLACK

I’m talking about your customers. You’re going to get some really rude customers over the next few days.

Some of them are rude people in general. You can ignore them and just be grateful you aren’t living their life. It must be miserable as hell.

Some of them are generally nice people feeling the stress and pressure of the season. You never know what is going on inside someone’s head and heart. They may be worried about the budget and bills they need to pay. They may be mourning a loved one who isn’t with them through the holidays for the first time. They may have problems at work or problems at home. They may be running late or just received bad news. They may have had an Alexander-and-the-Terrible-Horrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day kind of day.  More often than not, you’re just the straw on that camel’s back. Heck, it might not even be about you at all.

Cut them some slack.

In fact, the best thing you can do is kill ’em with kindness. Go over-the-top out-of-your way to be friendly, nice, and helpful to them.

To the first group who is always miserable, that’s the best way to annoy them, anyway.

To the second group, you just might turn someone’s day around for the better.

That’s called The Christmas Spirit! Spread it far and wide!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Have a pep rally with your staff and make the next three days all about killing them with kindness. Be the Joy you want people to have this holiday season.

PPS The rudeness tends to go away on the 24th. I’ve always said Christmas Eve was my favorite day to work retail. On the 23rd it was “my” fault for ruining their Christmas because I didn’t have the one toy little Johnny wanted that he put on his wish list in October. On the 24th they were just happy we were open, that we had lots of toys still in stock, and we gift-wrapped everything for free.

Christmas Quick Tip #16 – Plan for the Weather

In an effort to keep you moving this busy season, these blog posts will be quick and simple.

Here is tip #16 …

PLAN FOR THE WEATHER

You’re going to get some bad weather. I don’t know what day, but it always seems to happen at least once in the last week. Be proactive about it.

If you’re in the northern climates where it freezes, go buy a few extra bags of salt. Make sure your shovels and snowblowers are in working order. Hire a couple college kids home on break and make it their sole priority to keep your sidewalks and parking areas clean on a snowy day.

If you’re in the southern climates where rain is the big concern, get a few large golf umbrellas and hire a couple college kids home on break to escort your customers to their cars.

Word will spread quickly enough that you were not only prepared for the weather, but knew exactly how to keep the weather from ruining their shopping experience.

An ounce of planning can earn you a ton in sales.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS We had a torrential downpour one Christmas Eve. My son made ten dollars in tips escorting customers out to the parking lot with an umbrella. We had an ice storm one Christmas Eve and used our four-wheel drive vehicles to deliver several layaways that day. We had a hard snow on the Saturday before Christmas and I had two guys alternate shoveling and icing the front all day. We didn’t need one of those fans for drying out the front mats because no one was tracking in any snow. Get the picture?

Christmas Quick Tip #15 – Play With It

You’re in the home stretch. The jolly old elf hits the skies one week from tonight.

Here’s your quick tip #15 …

PLAY WITH IT

We’ve known this in the toy industry for decades. If you get a toy out to play, you’ll sell more of it. The clothing industry knows you’re more likely to buy it if you try it on. The perfume industry is just waiting to pounce on you with a puff. The makeup counter with the most sales is the one where they have the most samples.

This same principle applies in any industry.

No matter what you sell, the more you demo, the more you sell.

This is especially true this week – Man Week – the week where the procrastinators and the men start their shopping. Men are visual and tactile. We want to see it and touch it.

Let us play and we’ll open our wallets.

  • Got a slow seller? Play with it!
  • Got a unique product no one else carries? Play with it!
  • Got something brand new to market? Play with it!

Have fun this week! That’s what it is all about.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, safety is an issue and should always be top-of-mind. Get a rolling cart for demo stations for items that need supervision (i.e. tools and knives) and wheel it out during peak hours. There is always someone on your staff who wants the spotlight job of demonstrating the product. (Yes, you can be as cheesy as the infomercials when you do it – the cheesier the better. Your customers will get a chuckle out of it before they buy.)

Christmas Quick Tip #9 – Empty Her Hands

This month’s blog posts are short and simple because you’re busy. They are also reminders of tips, techniques, and tools you can use to increase sales, increase profits, and increase customer delight. This tip does all three.

Here is tip #9

EMPTY HER HANDS

If you don’t have shopping carts or baskets, your customers are limited to buy only what they can carry. Therefore, it should be a mission for all of your team to help unburden your customers whenever their hands are full.

Offer to take her items up to the checkout station.

This is good for two reasons. First, it frees up her hands to shop for more items. Second, it helps close the sale because when she agrees to your request to take the items up front she is giving her implicit acknowledgement that she has decided to buy those items.

When her hands are free she will shop longer, buy more, and be happier.

Don’t believe me? Believe Paco Underhill. He researched it for decades and chronicled it in his book Why We Buy. If you haven’t read it, ask Santa to bring you a copy.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Come up with a system for your team when they bring items up front—put a sticky note with a name on the pile and/or have a designated place for piles—something that helps you keep piles organized so that the wrong items don’t go home with the wrong people.

Christmas Quick Tip #8 – Change Your Shoes and Socks

Keeping it short and simple for the busy holiday season, this next tip may seem minor, but at the end of the day you’ll thank me.

Here is tip #8

CHANGE YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS

This time of year retailers spend for more time on their feet and far more time running back and forth than any other time of the year. By the end of the day your feet are killing you.

Two things you can do to help your feet get through this busy season are:

  • Change your socks midday
  • Alternate the shoes you wear

I used to keep a pair of socks in my office. During the Christmas season when I was working 7am to 9pm I would often change my socks in the late afternoon. Just that one act alone made my feet feel refreshed and gave me a little more spring in my step.

Not only was that good for me, it was good for my customers. It is hard to hide foot pain when interacting with other people. Like I said before, your last customer deserves the same level of enthusiasm as your first customer.

Alternating shoes is another way to keep your feet fresh. It gives your foot a different feel because different shoes work the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in different ways.

Encourage your employees working those long shifts to do the same. They will thank you. Their feet will thank you.

Your customers will thank you.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS My routine was to buy quality shoes with, comfy, supportive inserts, change my socks frequently, and switch between my dress shoes and my tennis shoes regularly. At night I would sprinkle baby powder into my shoes to help them dry up and smell fresh by morning. This tip won’t show up in any book on customer service, but it will affect your bottom line when you have more energy to work with those late-in-the-day customers.

Christmas Quick Tip #7 – Lead with the Best

Of all the Christmas Quick Tips I will give you, this one will be the hardest to master and quite possibly the most rewarding when you and your team do master it …

Here is tip #7

LEAD WITH THE BEST

Your customer is looking for solutions. Yes, at this time of year we call them gifts, but at the end of the day, they are really solutions to problems.

When you offer suggestions, unless the customer has given you a price range right up front, ignore price altogether and start by showing the best solution you have.

It doesn’t have to be the most expensive. It just has to make the most sense.

The tendency of most retail salespeople is to sell from your own pocketbook and start by offering the cheapest solution. That doesn’t win hearts (or build profits). You can use the cheapest solution as the fallback when they balk at the price of the best solution, but always lead with the best.

A customer will expand his or her budget if the product offered truly fits her needs.

You are a solution provider. Your job is to provide the best possible solution first. Then the customer can decide what she’s willing to compromise to fit her budget.

Teach your team that goal number one is to solve the problem in the best way possible. Always lead with the best.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Never open with the question, “What’s your budget?” First, they almost always lowball you well below what they would actually spend for the right product. Second, it pigeonholes you and often keeps you from showing her the right product. She’ll tell you when it’s out of her league, and you can adjust your offerings from there.

PPS Some of my favorite stores have successfully talked me into buying a more expensive item than I planned. I love those stores because in each case the solution was worth the expenditure. On the flip side, there are stores I won’t visit again because they tried to upsell me something that wasn’t the best solution to my problem. Always lead with the BEST.

Christmas Quick Tip #6 – Coins First!

Keeping it short and sweet, here is another simple, easy tip you and your team can do to make the holiday experience a better one for your customers.

Tip #6

GIVE THE COINS BACK FIRST

If you’re a regular, you know this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It shows both a lack of caring and a lack of training when the cashier hands me the bills first and then dumps the loose change onto my already occupied hand. The coins inevitably spill and now I’m wasting time on my hands a knees for a couple dimes.

Ugh!

The best thing you can do is teach your staff to “Count Back” the change.

The second best thing you can do is to at least have them place the coins in the customer’s hands first, followed by the bills.

Please, please, please teach and do this. Not only will you avoid those awkward hands-and-knees moments, you’ll subconsciously make your customer’s day (or in my case, you would consciously make my day and I would probably let out a rebel yell of joy!)

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, I do think it is a big deal. There are little things that have bigger meaning. This is one of training and caring. A cashier taught the right way instills far more confidence than one who is bumbling around and making you drop stuff.

Christmas Quick Tip #5 – Start Closing at Closing Time

Since your time is tight, now through December 21st I’m keeping these blog posts short and simple with tips, tools, and techniques that make a difference.

Here is tip #5

START CLOSING AT CLOSING TIME 

Not before.

Yes, you’re tired. Yes, these are long days and you want to go home. Yes, waiting until closing time to wash the counters, count the change, empty the wastebaskets, etc. will make you have to stay a few minutes later.

Yes, your last customer of the day deserves the same enthusiasm as your first customer of the day.

Make it taboo for anyone on your team to mention how tired they are. This is your moment to make hay. This is what your whole year has been built around. You’re supposed to be tired at the end of the day. Just don’t let it show.

Treat the last customers with the same enthusiasm as the first customers. Don’t go around the store closing things down and making them feel unwelcome. Instead think of them as the icing on your sales cake and give them the red carpet treatment.

Even if you have to fake it.

It not only pays now with bigger sales at the end of the day, it pays down the road as a customer treated well is more likely to come back than a customer treated like a nuisance.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I was guilty of this far too often. It is the one mistake I wish I could go back in time to fix. Yes, they are long days for you. Have you ever considered it has also been a long day for your customer? Treat her with kindness and enthusiasm and not only do you get the sale, you just might make her day.

Christmas Quick Tip #3 – Sign ‘Em Up Before Checkout

You’re busy. I’m busy. Our customers are busy. So in the interest of time, I’m keeping all the posts from now through Christmas short and sweet.

Here is tip #3

SIGN THEM UP BEFORE CHECKOUT

If you have a loyalty program, birthday club, or email list that you normally ask customers to join, you need to get in the habit of doing that long before they get to check out.

By the time the customer gets to checkout, they are in a hurry to leave. Anything you do then to slow down the line is an aggravation and leaves a bad taste in their mouth. They are not in a sharing mood then.

The best time to sign someone up is during the sales process. Not only are they in a friendlier mood, they are in less of a hurry and more willing to say yes.

Once you get them to say yes to your program, you make closing the sale that much easier.

Now is a good time to farm for your lists. Hire a seasonal person to wander your store with a tablet and/or clipboard and sign people up for your loyalty/birthday/email list. You’ll get more takers, close more sales, and keep your registers humming at optimal speed.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS If you don’t have enough salespeople to have them all doing this job as part of their sales process, hiring a seasonal person for this will more than pay for itself down the road. Plus it gives you one more person on the floor to direct customers where to go and deter shoplifters.

Christmas Quick Tip #1 – Thank You

It’s the busy season. You don’t have time for a lengthy blog with stories and explanations. So to make your life easier, now through December 21st I’m going to post simple, quick tips you can use and share with your staff to raise the bar for your customers. (Don’t ask questions. Just do these things and it will make a difference.)

Here is tip #1 …

SAY THANK YOU

Remind yourself and your staff to always say, “Thank You,” to every customer. Never say “Here you go,” or “No problem.” 

Even when a customer says Thank you to you first, you respond with a thanks or use Chick-fil-A’s, “My pleasure.” Say it and mean it. Those customers have choices and they chose you. Be sincerely thankful.

One study showed that 68% of people switched loyalty in stores because of indifference. Be grateful and you’ll never have that problem.

You cannot say “Thank you!” enough!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Thank you for reading and sharing this blog.