Coverings 2014 Conference Program: Strategies for Success: 15 Easy Ways to Maximize Your Customer Care

Our Coverings 2014 Speaker Blog Series continues with a guest post from professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender of KIZER & BENDER Speaking!

Let’s face it: We’re all time-starved, with too many items on our “to-do” lists. Some days we don’t even have the time – or strength – to even make out a to-do list. At the same time, you want to improve your store – you need to improve your store – but you’re just so busy. We understand. We’re here to help you keep it simple with 15 easy ways to maximize your customer care. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment, but each one will pay off big time in customer satisfaction. So, rip out this article and hang it in a place where you’ll be sure to see it every morning, and get ready to make things happen!

Do a daily morning walk through. Walk your sales floor each day before you open the doors for business. Carry pen and paper, noting which displays are working and which ones need to be tweaked. Look for shelves that need restocking and signs that have seen better days – anything that needs immediate attention.
Roll up your sleeves. Schedule yourself to do the tasks you normally assign to store associates. Work the service counter or cash wrap. Stock the departments everyone whines about when assigned to them. Clean the bathrooms. Once a month is okay, but once a week is better. This different perspective will help you see where policies and/or procedures can be changed, eliminated or streamlined. It helps promote teamwork, too.
Dress the part. Every, single associate needs to look and act like a professional. We’ve seen associates in all kinds of stores wearing things we wouldn’t wear to clean the garage. These days you have to be very specific about what is and isn’t appropriate, so write down your dress code, explain it to everyone in a store meeting, and reinforce it when necessary. No flip-flops; no sloppy jeans; no visible undergarments; no exceptions.
Welcome to the store! On busy days, station a greeter at the front of your store – his or her mere presence will delight customers. Being acknowledged ASAP makes a great first, and lasting, impression. In addition to offering a cart, basket or sale flyer, your smiling greeter can let shoppers know about in-store goings-on that are too important to miss.
Acknowledge every customer. Once inside the store, shoppers should never feel they are alone – make greeting every customer a non-negotiable store policy. Embrace our Seven Tile Rule: Whenever you come within seven floor tiles (7 feet) of a customer, stop, smile and say hello. Even if you’ve passed them before, acknowledge their presence. They’ll feel like a million bucks and they’ll tell their friends how friendly you are!
Set your end feature displays to sell. End features, AKA end caps, are high-impulse shopping areas that need to be merchandised with current, must-have items. Because they are in such highly visible locations, it’s crucial that they be set to sell – never use your end features as miscellaneous catch-alls. Create an end feature planning calendar that lists your design concept, assigned product, plus the date the display should be set, and the date to be taken down.
Customers who shop empty-handed rarely leave empty-handed. Once a customer’s arms are full, they typically stop shopping, so if you see someone trying to shop with her hands full of merchandise, get her a basket ASAP. Studies show that shoppers will spend approximately 25 percent more, and stay in the store up to 15 minutes longer, when they can shop hands free.
They can’t buy what they can’t see. Enlarge the font size on signage and price tickets, so customers can easily read them. Around the ripe old age of 40 a disease called Presbyopia kicks in and most of us have a hard time seeing close up. Don’t hang signs with less than a 30 point font, and keep a basket of reading glasses on hand, in a variety of magnifications, for customers who forget theirs. Let customers borrow them on the honor system while they shop.
Create a couponomy. Whenever you run a coupon sale, be sure to keep extras at the cash wrap for customers who don’t have one. You want to lose a customer? Tell her she can’t have the deal everyone else has.
Man the phone lines. Too many retailers these days can’t be bothered to offer good service via the telephone – you go on the opposite direction. Use your website, blog and social medias to talk up your free call-in service. Make it a big deal! Let customers know you’ll be there to help when they need you.
Talk to your customers. Ever see shoppers leave your store empty-handed? Drives you crazy, doesn’t it? Find out why by spending one day each month conducting exit interviews. Dig deeper by devoting 20 minutes each week personally responding to every customer who offers a suggestion or complains about something in the store they didn’t like. You’ll save the sale and build positive word of mouth.
Handle customer complaints promptly. Assess the situation and then apologize if the store has made a mistake or if a product is defective. Fix the customer first, and then fix the problem. Don’t wait for complaints to pile up! Your customers will remember that their problems – and their feelings – were important to you.
Confab with your staff. A daily 10-minute meeting helps associates know what’s going on in the store. Talk about product, in-store events – whatever’s happening that day. This keeps everyone in the loop about that’s new, hot and happening; important information they can pass on to customers.
Create a weekly bag stuffer. Bag stuffers are easy-to-create ads you make on your own computer. Talk up things that will bring the customer back to shop with you again. Note: The name bag stuffer is an oxy-moron; if you stuff them in bags you’re wasting an opportunity. Instead, hand them to customers – think free 30 second commercial!
Showcase your skills. Create a Brag Sheet that lists every service and convenience you offer customers. Include your product lines, specialties, major vendors, and more. Add your contact information, social media tags, hours, and directions to the store. Offer one to every customer who enters the store or makes a purchase.

We’ve made it even easier for you to wow your customers. Drop us an email at [email protected] and put “Coverings” the subject line. We’ll send you the forms mentioned in this article, plus additional customizable templates and motivational tools to help you stimulate store sales!

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender will present the Featured Session, “Prospering in Turbulent Times: Strategies for Success!” on Friday, May 2, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM at Coverings in Las Vegas. Click here for more information on his session and to view the full list of Coverings 2014 conference sessions. Don’t miss this session – register now for free to attend!