Bigger is not always better

Space Race

Remember the theme song from 1980s sitcom Cheers? ”You wanna go where everybody knows your name.”

There’s something ultra-charming about shopping at a store where the staff address you by name and that’s pretty much the way traditional retail used to be in New Zealand.

It’s unlikely that today you, as a retailer, could be across your customers to that extent given the fast-moving retail scene. However, there are customer service lessons to be taken from the good old-fashioned days of the past.

Knowing your customers by name would rely on regular, repeat business. Loyalty is becoming harder to secure in a retail environment where choice and options are seemingly, infinite.

However, you can focus on, and make a commitment to offering, genuine and strong customer care-based service – offer customer attention and gain customer retention.

It is unlikely that will be able to compete with bigger retailers purely on price, however the experience of the unexpected can delight and give you a tangible point of difference.

Here’s some tips for retailers and retail staff – some perhaps old-fashioned manners that have been overlooked in the quest to make a dollar:

• Offer your name and find out theirs – while customers and retailers today are busy, the human connection is important and people like to be addressed by their name

• Say “thank you” and mean it – not just a cursory “thanks” called out as they leave. A genuine offer of thanks after a purchase (or even after a visit to your store without a purchase) can go a long way to determining whether that customer is likely to come back to your store

• A “thank you” could also be by way of an added-value service – a discount voucher for next time, a bonus if they refer a friend to your store, an extra something added to their package, a free coffee at a neighbouring business

• Be aware of things that could make a customer’s shopping experience easier or more pleasant while in your store – an offer for them to pop their other shopping down somewhere safe while they browse, distract and engage with their children, take their wet umbrella so they have a free hand, make sure your store is easily-navigable to encourage browsing

• Provide seating to enable less mobile (or tired) shoppers to stop awhile and feel welcome

• Offer to help take shopping to their car (if you have staff to cover for you), allow them to leave their packages with you while they shop elsewhere , ask if they’d prefer to leave the packaging with you to recycle, always ask if you could gift wrap an item, offer genuine compliments or helpful suggestions without judgment

• Take the time to concentrate on individual customers and make them feel valued rather than seeing them and their purchase as just another transaction


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