Have any of you been the victim of horrible customer service in the past? We mean tactics and events that really got you steamed. Did you ever patronize that store again? Did you try your best to relate the gory details to everyone that would listen? So have we and today we’re going to share some of our customer service pet peeves.
First, don’t lie. If you screw up just be honest. Your customers are fairly normal and understand that things can happen with deadlines, product failures, inventory shortages, price changes, and damage in shipment. Just tell them the truth and you can still be friends. When a customer comes into your store, don’t bad mouth your competition as you try to convince them to buy from you. Sure, point out how dealing with you adds value for them as a consumer, but do it in a constructive manner. Continually talking down the other competitors makes you look petty and a little desperate.
If you are a bank or retail store and have multiple check out stands, please be prepared to open them depending on customer traffic to minimize time wasted waiting in line. It does require some management planning and the cross-training of employees, but it really could make the difference in a customer choosing you over another store.
Train your employees and then cross-train them. Now empower them to make a decision or two without having to call the manager or owner every time. Customers appreciate that stores have different departments, but if one of your employees says “sorry, it’s not my department”, we have a problem. If they are wearing an employee vest in your store, their most important job is to help the customer spend money in your store. If that requires them to violate some invisible department boundary or take the time to track down another employee, so be it.
When you run an advertisement to entice customers to visit your store please have a reasonable quantity of each of the sale items available to actually buy. Otherwise, your skills as a merchant and your commitment to satisfying the customer may be doubted. No one understands why stores open at five in the morning the day after Thanksgiving offering deep discounts on popular items but only having a few on hand. Don’t you realize that while you make a few people happy you also will make hundreds mad? If you run out of a sale item, give rain checks and notify customers when it arrives.
How will you handle it if customers decide to voice a complaint? Will you get defensive, abusive, or sarcastic? Will you try to solve any problem and use suggestions to train your employees in order to prevent other complaints?
Most customers don’t like to gripe at people and it takes a lot to get some to complain. But if they do, what they are really saying is that they like your store and want to continue to shop there. They are trying to give you an opportunity to keep their business. Consider that 91% of unsatisfied customers never complain, they just never come back. So, allowing you the opportunity to fix the problem is the most sincere compliment you can receive.
If a customer is at your front counter with money in my hand and the store telephone rings, will the caller become the priority instead of me? The customer at the counter was there first and is trying to give you money. Why should some random caller get ahead of them in line? Couldn’t the employee take a number and faithfully return the call as time permits? And, if the caller is placed on hold will the employee forget they are there or forget to return the call?
Would you establish a dress and hygiene policy for your employees? There is no place in any business for disheveled dress, dirty fingernails or hair, soiled uniforms, or body odor. And let’s talk about body piercings for a minute. They may be an expression of art or individualism but aside from pierced ears, they can be a turn off for many customers.
That’s it. We hope that those of you who own or manage a small business will gain from the customer’s perspective and it will allow you to prevent some of these situations.