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Winning the customer service battle: Part I

Creating and delivering consistently good customer service is a battle that happens every day right on your sales floor. RICH KIZER and GEORGANNE BENDER share important advice on maximising your sales opportunities in 2023.

Business is never easy, and it becomes particularly difficult when your plate is full, and you are being pulled in many directions. And even when you think you have it down to a science, there is always someone on your staff who is having a bad day.

We know because we mystery shop all sorts of independent stores every year, and even when the customer care is better than what we find in most chain stores, it isn’t always the best.

Believe it or not, the customer experience in your store is even more important than the product you sell. Good products can be found in any number of places; however the experience a customer gets on your sales floor is unique to your store.

It’s like a fingerprint - no other retailer will ever have it. In 2023 we want you to focus hard on your store’s customer experience – even if it is already good. Consider the following tips to help you improve the in-store experience and increase sales.

Know thy customers

It’s important to know your customer base and what they expect from you. You may have had a ‘read’ on your customers pre-pandemic, however; each new version of COVID-19 has continued to change who we are and how we shop.

“According to the experts, we take 55 per cent of our communicative cues from body language, 38 per cent from tone of voice, and only seven per cent from the words they use.”

• Baby Boomers: Accounting for 55 per cent of US spending, the Baby Boomers continued to dominant spending during the pandemic despite being the generation most likely to be at risk of serious health complications from the COVID-19 virus.

Baby Boomers will always desire highly personalised service from their stores of choice and still seek those retailers who provide it. It’s dangerous to become too youth-focused when customers with the deepest pockets are still actively spending.

• Generation X: This generation is highly independent and self-sufficient, which has made them demanding consumers who will hold your feet to the fire when you promise something.

Remember their independence when selling big ticket items and be a partner, not an authority.

• Millennials: The Millennials were a generation that was busy building their lives when the pandemic hit. Suddenly weddings, buying homes, having kids, and even advancing their careers were put on hold. COVID-19 affected their finances and social interaction with friends and family. The real-life experiences they cherish came to a standstill.

Millennials can be loyal customers, however, they are also customers who will cross boundaries to find what they want. It’s not unusual for them to do extensive research online before choosing to do business with you.

It’s important to remember that while growing up Millennials were encouraged to ask questions, so in a sales situation, let them talk! Be a collaborator and get ready to answer the pointed questions other generations may not ask.

• Generation Z: This generation was arguably hit the worst by the pandemic because it happened during their formative years. Generation Z missed once-in-a-lifetime first and past experiences we all cherish, like graduation, the first day of school, new jobs, and internships.

Even before 2020, Generation Z was changing everything when it comes to consumer behaviour. Forget about printed brochures, these digital natives want to learn about your store and what you sell
on a digital platform.

This makes your website and social media posts even more important than pre-pandemic. Gen Z expects every touchpoint to be easy and they will require you to adopt emerging technology.

Strive for loyal customers

The goal of every interaction for retailers is to sell something to every customer, sell more to every customer, and develop relationships that turn satisfied first-timers into loyal customers.

Satisfied customers may have had a good experience in your store, however; that won’t prevent them from shopping elsewhere. Loyal customers, on the other hand, stay true to you and help spread the word about how wonderful it is to shop at your store. Loyal customers are golden; when you have them, keep them happy.

Roll out the welcome mat

When a customer first enters the store it’s not the time to start the selling process, however; for many customers how they are treated in those critical first seconds is where the sale is created.

Greet every customer with a cheery hello and then talk about something that has nothing to do with the store. A simple,
“Isn’t it a gorgeous day?” is a perfect opening. You are simply greeting the customer to make them feel welcome.

One of the things we do frequently while studying a store is stand near the front door with a stopwatch and measure how long it takes for customers to be greeted by staff.

In the next issue of Jeweller we will return with further advice and tips on making the most of your sales opportunities in 2023.

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender

Contributors •

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are retail strategists, authors and consultants. Visit: kizerandbender.com

Duraflex Group Australia

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