There are certain stores I frequent because of the way they make me feel. They make me feel welcome and treat me as if they value my business. They also make it easy and pleasant to do business with them. By following certain protocol you can make your clients feel valued. You may even increase how frequently they shop with you and how much they spend as well.
When customers visit your store
Keep your parking lot neat:
Encourage customers to return their carts and pick them up regularly for them when they don’t, but also regularly pick up garbage, set up garbage cans in convenient locations, and keep the property neatly landscaped. Have clear signage and replace light bulbs, especially those in the sign that displays your store’s name.
Keep your store and store-front clean, neat and organized:
You wouldn’t think I would need to say this, but I went into a fish store recently where the store front was being used for storage. I went into an office building where they had poinsettia plants on display in March. I’ve seen registers littered with paper, half-eaten food, pictures and other trinkets. None of these makes an appealing impression.
Provide a location for employees to take their breaks away from the entrance:
There is nothing worse than having to excuse yourself through a cloud of smoke and group of employees who are taking a break and invariably complaining, either about the management or the customers, in order that you may spend your hard-earned money.
While customers shop:
Keep re-stocking shelves to a minimum:
If you’ve read my book, The Service Journey, you’ll know that one of my biggest pet peeves is stores who stock their shelves constantly, even during peak shopping hours, creating hurdles and barriers that make shopping even more difficult. I understand stocking is necessary, but do you really need to set up your boxes in the middle of the aisle, so no one is able to pass? Do you need to restock every aisle simultaneously? Do you need to bring out the bananas on a cart that is 20 x 20, so that I need to reverse my steps and go around after deciding I have to make a purchase in that aisle? Do you need all seventy-five boxes out at once, thereby creating a literal makeshift wall in the middle of the aisle so shoppers have to shop single file and can only purchase items from one side of the aisle at a time? After you’ve emptied these same seventy-five boxes, do you need to leave them in disarray in the middle of the aisle? Keep stocking to a minimum. Be cognizant of peak shopping hours. Make extra trips if you need to in order to minimize the impact to your customers. Better yet, when designing your store, take re-stocking into account, so that frequently purchased items may be restocked from the back.
Focus on the client:
Say ‘hello’ and smile when you see customers and especially when you are about to take their money. Make sure your client was able to find everything they were looking for. Talk to your customer, not your colleague at the next register, and definitely do not talk about your antics from the evening before. And if your customer bags, be sure to pitch in as soon as you’re finished scanning their items. Make them feel as if they are important to you.
Offer a cart or a basket if the customer has their hands full.
It never fails. I plan to buy one or two items, don’t pick up a cart or basket, and then find myself balancing ten. Bed Bath and Beyond will offer me a cart if I do this. It’s such a simple gesture and yet makes such a positive impression. All store employees should do the same. For stores such as clothing stores, offer to hold purchases at the register. Make it easy to shop, and your clients will be more likely to purchase more.
If your customer has a lot of items and will have difficulty getting to their car, offer to help.
In the midwest, grocery store employees will automatically help customers bring their groceries to their cars. Out east, we’re on our own for the most part. They’ll tell you that if you need help, simply go to the customer service department and they’d be happy to find someone to help you. If my cart is overflowing, I’m not likely to do that. I could get to my car with the same amount of effort. If you see the items don’t fit in my cart, just offer to find me help; make it easy.
Have soft background music playing in the store.
Music can make the most unpleasant of shopping trips tolerable. It can also help preserve privacy by not allowing conversations to be overheard. Be sure to choose music that matches your brand identity and your client profile; if you are a conservative business, rap music doesn’t work. When implementing background music, I always recommend Business Voice, a vendor with whom I’ve worked for years.
After the customer has made their purchase:
Tell the client they’ve made a good decision
Although this doesn’t work in all circumstances, if I’ve purchased clothes, a house, or car it’s nice to hear that I made a good choice, received a good deal and didn’t waste my money. I’m much less likely to have buyer’s remorse.
Bag purchases as if they’re important
Bag groceries so that items aren’t bruised and so it is easy to unpack items when home. Fold clothes purchases. Wrap those breakable items carefully.
Thank your client for their business, and let them know that you appreciate them shopping there. Even if you’re only sixteen years old, at the moment you are interacting with your client you represent that store to your client and as such it’s nice to hear that you recognize your customers have a choice as to where they spend their money.
It’s the attention to detail, the little things, that will differentiate your store from your competition. Next time we’ll talk about making people feel welcome when they visit your restaurant…