By Moe Lastfogel
Director of Sales and Marketing for The Retail Observer
Expand the education and resources you need
Consumers are savvier today than ever before and more knowledgeable with the help of the Internet. They also demand a higher level of customer service and expertise when shopping. With all the store closures of Sears, HH Gregg, and others, it’s more important to be ready for new customers. If you don’t provide them with the answers they are looking for, they can easily find another retailer who will. You can no longer sit idly by and let untrained employees handle your customers, nor can you expect to have customers come back if you don’t handle their concerns quickly and efficiently.
Exceptional customer service should be seen in every area of your operations, not just on your sales floor. Our long-time contributing writer John Tschohl is a great resource in this field. From the CEO to the janitor, everyone plays a vital role in the whole customer experience. What have you implemented in your business for continuing education of your staff in the areas where they work? Have you looked into your buying group or trade associations to see what educational programs they offer? You might even think of offering employee assistance for continued education at the community college level. I’m sure there are a thousand other opportunities out there.
Don’t forget that the service departments play a major role in how your business is perceived by your customers, but is often overlooked when talking about customer service. This includes how well your staff handles service calls, accounting processes, warehousing and delivery procedures.
We at The Retail Observer understand the importance of customer service, well-trained staff and efficiently run business processes. In today’s marketplace, the introduction of new technologies, product enhancements, certification and training have, and will, continue to impact this area of your business.
By Eliana Barriga
Publisher and Managing Editor for The Retail Observer
A man and his young daughter were at a farmer’s market. The daughter asked if they could get fresh apples, so the dad bought two and handed them to his daughter while he put his change away. He asked the daughter if he could have one of the apples, and the girl quickly took a bite from one apple. Before he could say anything, she took a bite from the second apple. The dad was surprised and disappointed that his daughter acted so greedily, but at that moment, the daughter handed him an apple and said, “Here, Daddy, take thisone.It’s sweeter and juicier!” —author unknown
This story illustrates how the snap judgments can be so inaccurate, as they are influenced by our own perspective and experiences. What came to the father’s mind first (2 apples + 2 bites = greedy) wasn’t the case at all, and by the father simply observing his daughter and not reacting immediately on his first impression, he was able to experience his daughter’s generous nature. Had he acted on his impulse, the scenario could have turned out poorly, perhaps a confrontation that could have affected the relationship.
I am guilty of snap judgment myself on occasion, and when I do, I need to remind myself: “What else could this mean-how could I be misreading this?” The trick for me is to remember this in the moment!
How often do we make snap judgments with our customers, our co-workers, or our employees, perhaps immediately acting (or overreacting), versus taking time to respond and clarify? Have you ever noticed a questionable action of an employee, taken it wrong and admonished them, only to find out that the employee took the best action given the circumstances? If we allow those situations to just play out a bit to see where it is going, we gain a wider perspective of, “That’s not what I would’ve done, but I can see the intention, and it works.” By embracing a more patient response, we can learn from others’ thought processes and increase our ability to communicate more effectively.
Here’s the way I see it: Never jump to conclusions because you never know where it might take you.