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Ask customers for suggestions on how to improve service
Ask customers for suggestions on how to improve service

Refresh your customer service

Retailers can obtain useful information when asking customers for suggestions. RICH KIZER & GEORGANNE BENDER call it their big question: “What one thing could we do to improve our customer care?”

Customer care is often over looked these days, yet it’s the one area consistently at the top of everyone’s wish list. No shopper wants to be ignored, and no retailer wants to offer poor service – but both still happen far too often. Customers say that shopping is sometimes too much of a hassle.

Stores are hard to shop and customers can’t find items they want to buy, or even a knowledgeable staff member when they need one. Retailers seeking to appraise the quality of service in their stores should consider the following ideas:

Host a focus group

Invite 15 customers to participate in a focus group, but set the room for 10. It’s always better to bring in extra chairs than to have empty seats as it makes the meeting seem even more important.

"Exit interviews are great for identifying the products that customers wish you carried, and you’ll be able to save a few sales when customers find you do have what they need but didn’t find"

Hold the focus group in store and make sure there’s an impartial third party to run the group – it can be hard to remain objective when shoppers are giving negative feedback, but retailers who get defensive about criticism will only shut down discussion.

Perhaps observe the session from behind closed doors, or video it and watch later. Serve refreshments and have a list of questions that the presenter can use to keep the conversation moving. Participants should receive a gift of at least $100 for participating, preferably in cash. You may also want to include a jar candle or other small gift.

Create a customer advisory board

Similar to a corporate board of directors, retailers can meet with an advisory board once a quarter to discuss any strategies and changes that have been implemented, as well as any ideas for the future. Choose a diverse group of people spanning different generations.

Conduct exit interviews

Station yourself near the front door and politely ask customers as they are leaving whether they found everything they were seeking. Exit interviews are great for identifying the products that customers wish you carried, and you’ll be able to save a few sales when customers find you do have what they need but didn’t find.

Customer comment cards

Place ‘Tell us what you think!’ cards at the store’s POS counter and any other service counters. Include these cards in purchase packaging and make a feedback form available to browsers on the website. Cards are helpful for time-starved customers who have something to say but are too short on time to stop and talk.

Ask the team

Feedback from staff can be as valuable as feedback from customers, so ask the sales team to jot down anything they’re hearing from customers on the sales floor.

Give each staff member a small notebook in which to record their comments and discuss these comments during store meetings.

The one thing

Retailers can obtain useful information when asking customers for single suggestions. This is known as the big question and works as follows: “What one way could we improve our customer care?” or “What one service would make it more convenient to shop here?” or “What one in-store event would you like to attend?”

Customers must put thought into their answers, which will ensure constructive suggestions. Don’t be surprised to find that shoppers might focus on the same topic. This is a good thing – if it’s positive feedback then it’s one more thing to brag about, and if it’s negative then you know exactly what to fix.

The ideas above are designed to help you find out how your business scores on customer service, but they will also help you grow your business. After asking customers for their input, retailers must make sure they use the information they have gathered.

When implementing customer suggestions, let them know. Post their responses on a “customer interaction” bulletin board inside the store and share what has been implemented on social media pages, the website and the store newsletter.

Knowing your customers and what they want will keep merchandise fresh, promotions fun and sales ticking over.












ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender

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









Wednesday, 19 September, 2018 11:51pm
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