Learn To Deal With Customer Service Issues

Those Pesky Retail Customer Service Conundrums

Have you ever walked in a store and had the person at the counter, who was on the phone, ignore you, or worse yet, turn their back to you?

A while ago we talked about this situation in our WhizBang! Tip of the Week and believe me, it created quite a stir! Our email inbox started to fill with customer service horror stories that ranged from amusing to amazing to appalling. We clearly had hit a nerve!

One of the definitions of conundrum is: “a difficult problem.” Fortunately the solution to this customer service and training conundrum, and the other pesky retail customer service training issues you face as a retail store owner, can be solved.

It’s a three step process:   

  1. Clearly define the problem.
  2. Determine the appropriate response to the problem.
  3. Train your staff to respond to the problem the correct way.

Let’s take a look at this phone situation and then you can apply this process to other retail customer service issues you face in your store.

First, figure out exactly what’s causing the problem.

You have two people who want your attention, and they might both be customers so the problem is: you are torn between two or more customers that need your attention. Who do you help first?

Second, find a few options that will help keep everyone happy.

If you are already on the phone with a customer or on an important business call when someone comes in your store, make eye contact, smile, hold up one finger and mouth, “One minute?”  Always treat it as a question – the customer in the store will almost always be fine with waiting. If they are in a hurry, wrap up your phone call as quickly as possible to help them.

If the phone call is not important, politely ask the person on the phone if you could call them back when you are done helping the customer on the floor. Remember, the customer in your store should be more important than vendors, friends, family, and the many other phone calls that are an inevitable part of being a businessperson.

If you are on the floor with a customer by yourself and the phone rings, either let your machine pick it up (you do have a machine, don’t you?), or if you feel it won’t inconvenience you customer, ask them, “Would you mind if I quickly pick up the phone?” Once again, usually your customers will be very happy to be patient if you ask in the right tone.

Warning: If you decide to let the answering machine pick up the phone call while you are working with a customer, be sure to get the message and call back immediately. That’s great customer service!

Get Great Customer Service Training!

Opportunity: If you decide to let the answering machine pick up the phone call, make sure that your customer hears something worthwhile. If your answering machine gives answers to the most commonly asked questions (When are you open? Where are you located?) you may have been able to serve two customers at once. If it also includes information about your upcoming promotions or exciting new products, you’ve provided another great piece of retail customer service.

Finally, regardless of what your plan is, you must engage in customer service training with your staff on exactly what to do and make sure that that they are always following your plan. Spend a few minutes with each of your staff members role playing the different scenarios.

Remember, this is just one customer service problem. Your life as a store owner or manager is filled with lots, lots more customer service or training problems just like this. Luckily, the process is always the same: clearly define the problem, come up with a customer friendly solution or solutions, and train your people how to respond to the problem next time.

So the next time you feel frustrated by a retail customer service issue, move past it – get to work and solve the problem once and for all.

Customer service training

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