Posted August 19, 2020

The Cruciality of Customer Service in Retail: Part 2

By Grace Tino

Any experienced retail worker can tell you that it's the customer that's the biggest part in a store's success. It's been said many times that "the customer is always right." However, working with customers is certainly not always easy. It can be incredibly challenging, and approaches need to vary from customer to customer to adapt to the situation. Reading customers, knowing when to approach and when to close, and ensuring they leave satisfied is a surefire way to create a returning shopper and keep the store thriving. Retail hiring teams often consider customer service skills as some of the most desirable traits in a good employee. As discussed in AllRetailJobs's previous article, good customer service directly ties to strong sales and overall lasting performance of retail stores. Understanding the important function of customer service is only half of what makes an associate excel at this skill; knowing the do's and don'ts of customer service makes all the difference in action!

A great day in customer service starts with attitude. You will never know what the customers will be like on any given day; however, that does not mean you should expect the worst. Maintaining a positive attitude in any customer interaction gives the confidence an associate needs to solve the problem. Though it may sound cliché, approaching a customer with a smile truly does go a long way. If you are interviewing for a retail position that requires customer service skills, hiring managers will undoubtedly be evaluating attitude and presentation. In addition to your personality and attitude, your physical appearance also sets the tone for an interaction in an interview and more importantly on the sales floor. Always wearing the uniform provided by the store is clearly important, but the way an employee presents and carries the uniform matters as well. Always keep your work apparel clean and wrinkle free to communicate professionalism and trustworthiness. Of course, don't forget your smile- happy associates make happy customers!

Once you are in a conversation with your customer, the next step is to listen to their needs. Active listening is a crucial strategy to ensure you create a satisfied customer. Allow the customers to tell you about what they're looking for, but remain engaged mentally and pair it with physical cues. This includes demonstrating nonverbal cues with body language and expressions. Nodding your head is a simple way to show your understanding. Truly listen to their stories rather than already calculating your next response while they speak. Showing signs of indifferences are a huge "don't" in customer service. If you can repeat back a summary of their needs, you will build trust with the customers, and of course be better prepared to help them find everything they need.

Always put yourself in the shoes of the customer. Think outside the box when it comes to approaching your customers to offer assistance. Many people can remember a retail associate approaching them right upon entry to the store, asking immediately, "Can I help you? How are you today?" Think back to the last bad experience you had as the shopper in a store. Ask yourself, what did the person do to make you feel uncomfortable? Did the associate bug you with "small talk" questions while you were looking? Remembering how it feels to be a customer is key to discovering how to help one. When conversing with a customer, keep the conversation enthusiastic. As we mentioned above, attitude is a huge factor in creating a positive customer service experience. Rather than treat customers like "just another customer," demonstrate your attentiveness, care, and enthusiasm for their business. It is extremely important not to have a customer leave with unanswered questions! A fully positive customer service interaction ends with a satisfied customer. If you don't know the answer, always ask another team member, or even a manager; chances are, someone else may be able to help in assisting the customer. Take the time to seek help, solve the problem, and go the extra mile; customers are far more likely to return in the future if they feel the business and its employees care for them.

Don't be afraid of customer complaints or feedback. Though you may be great with customer service, it's nearly impossible to satisfy customers every time. Being open to feedback from your least satisfied customers allows for growth and improvement in customer service skills. Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, once said, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." Negative feedback directs attention to areas of business strategy in the store that need more improvement to maintain returning customers. Though complaints may be hurtful at first, take them as learning experiences rather than tuning them out; customer critique is guidance for growth in customer service.

Retail hiring managers seek employees that can contribute to the success and growth of their stores, and customer service associates create a successful customer experience. When it comes to an interview, outlining your customer service knowledge as well as technique is a great way to stand out from other job seekers. If you're already working in retail, consider the areas we've discussed and where you can improve how you relate to customers. As a customer service associate, you have the opportunity to create a positive customer experience and repeat customers. AllRetailJobs offers thousands of actively hiring positions with competitive pay at the best retailers in the country, making it the best place to start your successful retail career.