Every retailer, regardless of size or specialty, can stand to improve their customer service offering.
In the September issue of Hardware Retailing, readers learned how three North American home improvement businesses approach customer service. If you’re ready to take an honest assessment of how you can improve your business’s customer service, customer service expert Micah Solomon has some tips for you.
1. Make the decision to provide stellar customer service.
Solomon says great customer service begins with retailers who choose to achieve it.
“Will you put the needs and viewpoints of customers at the very center of how you go about your day? Once you do that, you’ll be motivated to work on the essentials, which include training existing employees, setting up customer service guidelines and best practices and changing your hiring practices to succeed in getting more customer-focused employees,” he says.
2. Understand your power as an independent retailer.
Solomon stresses that independent operators have a leg up when it comes to satisfying customers.
“Independent hardware stores have a great opportunity to use customer service as an unassailable competitive advantage. But you can only do this if you focus on it and keep your desire to serve the customer at the absolute top of your thought patterns and how you go about your work every day,” he says.
3. Make the customer feel right.
Solomon says the old adage that “the customer is always right” isn’t necessarily true, but he recommends retailers respect their customers in every encounter.
“The customer isn’t always right, but it almost always pays off to make them feel right,” he says. “If a customer makes a mistake, don’t point it out unless it’s absolutely necessary. And if it is, make it seem like a simple mistake anyone could make.”
4. Start each day with an employee lineup.
Retailers should begin each workday with a casual meeting with employees to strategize for the day ahead and remind employees about the importance of serving customers well.
“A daily lineup, or a standup meeting, is an opportunity to discuss one principle of great customer service every day,” he says.
Solomon says these informal meetings are a great way to build team relationships and recommends retailers have different employees lead the meetings to build confidence.