Articles for Retailers - Tom Shay

A 9-Point Customer Service Plan

Creating a Distinction Between You and Your Competition
by Tom Shay

 A 9 Point Customer Service Plan

Creating a distinction between you and your competition

As a customer in someone else’s business, have you ever been made to feel you were an interruption to the workday rather than the reason for it? Most of us have.

Regardless of how well your business operates employees occasionally need a reminder of the reason for their work. Constantly remind your staff that your business is consumer driven, and that the customer is the most important person in your store.

Few retailers provide written customer service directives for their employees. Do you have directions for waiting on a customer?  We felt we needed more time training our team members to perform this crucial task so we created a nine-point directive for customer service. We also initiated a program that paid bonuses based on total sales goals, departmental work goals and individual item sales.

Here are our nine directives:
  1. Allow the customer to get into the store. Do not chase the down at the front door.
  2. Next, greet the customer with an open conversation. (“Hello. How are you?” or “Hi. Glad to see you.”) If the customer is in a hurry or knows exactly what they want, usually they will ask. If not, invite them to look around.
  3. Check the store for the location of other customers, then continue with the usual work. We told our employees they should never go more than four minutes without stopping to check for customers.
  4. If an employee is not the first person to talk with the customer, use a different approach. This can easily be done by walking by the customer and asking something like, “Finding what you need? Let me know if I can help you.”
  5. In approaching the customer, another employee could ask questions such as, “What do we need to solve our problem today?” or “What kind of item are you looking for today?” By using the words “we and our”, the employee shows his interest in the customer.
  6. In helping the customer, ask questions about the intended purchase. If the customer is trying to decide what kind of brush to buy, for example, the employee could ask, “What do you need the brush to do?” Maybe they don’t have experience with a particular type of brush or are worried about the cost.  These challenges offer opportunities to help.
  7. Offer directions, shortcuts, personal experiences or words of caution. Be certain that you end this part of the conversation with words of encouragement.  After solving the problem for the customer, it is time to make the sale. In our store, we stocked add-on items in each department. The task was to get the add-on sale into the customer’s hands for her to consider before she left the department.
  8. Hand the customer a copy of your current sales circular or mention your website sales.
  9. The final step in making the sale comes after the customer said “thank you”.  We made a special point of thanking our customer. Our employees were reminded that we had many competitors and the customer had chosen our store to shop in. Their shopping in our store helped to pay our salaries and allowed us to earn bonuses.

Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner, author, columnist, coach and speaker who has authored several training manuals for retailers that can be found in the Resources section of the NAMTA website – His knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. You can learn more here -