The most important ingredient in the recipe for jewellery retail success is the customer – without them there is no retail business. Nancy Georges reports on how to keep the relationship fresh.
Compare retail now and past, as close as three years ago, and you would be looking at a different industry. Customers were once more accepting of bad customer service. Today’s customer no longer accepts it, is vocal about it and can influence others; on and off line.
It’s not enough to know who your customers are. You need to know their needs, what appeals to them, where they are and how to treat them. They also need to recognise not everybody who walks in is a customer and that staff cannot be all things to all people. Select and your target customer carefully. The right profile will ensure you buy the right product, have the right staff and communicate effectively.
Each business does not really sell the products on the shelf, they sell customer service. This is what sets one store apart from others. Customer service should be viewed as an exercise in problem solving: customers come into the store with a need, it is the staff’s job to solve the problem by finding something that meets that need.
Once you have defined the ideal customer and their needs you can start to build a relationship with them. By meeting their needs, staff will build trust and comfort with their customers. Defining what is good customer service is harder than it sounds. It is not as simple as saying please and thank you, and smiling at them when they enter the store, although these are all important too!
THEY’RE LOOKING FOR THE TOTAL PACKAGE
Customer service is having what a customer wants at a time they want it. It encompasses every element and aspect of the business, and communicates how a store and its products meet the needs and wants of the customer. It is great to build the relationship but stores must have the goods to back it up.
Exceptional customer service is going that extra step, extending beyond what the customer expects or experiences with other stores. Exceptional customer service happens before, during and after the sale, and must be constant and consistent. In the current retail market, the competitive advantage of each business will be its customer service.
Think of exceptional customer service in the same way as dating. First there is attraction, then getting to know each other, trust building, familiarity, comfort and, lastly, wanting to be around each other all the time. People are looking for a partner who satisfies a long list of needs and customers are demanding exceptional customer service. Customers (and daters) are now looking for “the total package”.
SO, How is it like dating?
If you want to attract your customer at first glance, you must put effort into your appearance and always look your best.
You must always be honest, polite and respectful. Deliver what you promise and don’t promise what you can’t deliver!
Make sure you have enough in common, otherwise your objectives will not be met and you will be wasting each others’ time. Be realistic, don’t try and turn them into something they are not.
Use the approach and ‘language’ that suits the subject, you need to be adaptable. Ask questions and LISTEN to the answers. Once you identify their current needs, anticipate future needs.
Use humour and creativity to build and maintain the relationship. When you spend time together focus on them, don’t look over their shoulder at what else is happening. Constantly communicate and keep up to date with each other, don’t lose touch.
Accept constructive criticism as a way of making the relationship stronger and maybe changing some of your bad habits! Recognise that sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war. There will be times you have to apologise to a valued customer even when you know you are right, for the long term on-going relationship.
Thank them every chance you get – show them they are valued. Most importantly, encourage them to introduce you to their friends!
SO WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?
When a store achieves this level of exceptional customer service, customers shop without resistance. When staff suggest an add-on product, customers see it as a valuable suggestion to assist them, and not as a pushy ploy for added sales. This is where you want to be.
The goal is for customers to become addicted to a store’s great service, so much so that they return for more. Repeat business is more profitable than the first sale because acquiring new customers is expensive. The cost of the first sale can be more than double the cost of a returning customer. To ensure retailers have a profitable business, they need to maintain a high rate of repeat customers.
Only 60 per cent of satisfied customers ever return, so retailers need to be aiming at 100 per cent satisfaction to ensure profitable levels of repeat business. Exceptional customer service needs to be maintained and innovated continually to ensure customers don’t go elsewhere. It is important to ensure that this is ongoing and evolving to encourage interest. Remember: there is a fine line; do not get too familiar so as to make a customer uncomfortable.
Develop a strategy for potential, new and regular customers. Do different things to entice and retain each type. It takes work to keep a healthy relationship thriving, but it also brings rewards.