Retailers who want customers to come back need to do more than deliver on expectations. They need to be memorable.
Here are 28 ways any retailer can stand out.
1. Make customers feel good
Customers forget about their buying experience within seconds of leaving a store if they didn't feel incredible. Say hello. Make eye contact. Show personal interest and empathy. When there is a positive emotional connection, that starts to lay a foundation.
2. Be enthusiastic
Believe in what you're selling and what you say, and the enthusiasm will come naturally. And remember to smile! It will disarm even the angriest customer and keep the environment inviting for anyone else in the store.
3. Be genuine
People can tell when you’re being insincere, so don’t be - it will destroy their trust.
4. Add value
Master your craft, and customers will respect you. Set time aside each week to read articles and look for suggestions that could be of use to your customers. Be prepared to always have something to offer, then ask questions or make observations that an online bot assistant or call centre would not.
5. Build a network
Your customers are already asking their friends for advice, either via a group chat or posting to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Think of each customer that interacts with your store as people who each have family, friends, a personal interest. They may also be working or own a business. Learning a bit about them during each interaction is going to build a relationship. Who knows? Maybe they can help you out too (hint: it's very likely).
6. Be proactive
Don't sit and wait for people to come to you. Look for opportunities to delight and surprise, even when it's not expected.
7. Check in after the sale
This may seem silly, but retailers should check in with their customers after a sale to check how things are going. Yes, you can send an automated message, but having a 2 minute chat over the phone or via text message can go along way to remind them who you are and that you're there for them.
8. Remember that a purchase is NOT the end
It's actually the beginning of the relationship. The book "The Disloyal Customer" is a great read, showing that customers by default WANT to keep a business relationship alive. You just have to work for it and the burden is on the business to stay in touch.
9. Reconnect after a few months
If you sell high value products (like a cell phone), it's worth your time to reconnect with a customer a couple times a year. Likely they may have faced some sort of life event or they may be interested in something new. If they have a social account or you read something about them in the news, say congrats.
10. Store notes in one place
When you meet a customer, they are going to giving you hints about how you could help them:
- If they have kids, and their names or ages
- If they are married
- Where they might work
- What they do for fun (ex: do they like running?)
When you notice these things, write them down (yes, perhaps in a physical book) but then log them into your retail CRM (like Statflo) that's easily accessible from anywhere.
11. Share every positive story
Nothing is more inspiring than a great story. When you have a cool experience, record a quick video of yourself and share it with your manager to spread around. You may be able to teach a colleague something new or you might learn something yourself. Positive stories make work more exciting - and it's contagious.
12. Be social (but don't pitch)
Most of your customers are already on social media in some way. Get involved in the conversation and add value, and share cool articles that positions you as someone worth talking to.
13. Maintain your reputation
Have an online presence either for your brand, your store or even personally. And stay on top of it. Keep your bio and contact info up to date, improve old articles with relevant new content, and remember that things last a long time on the internet. Treat others the way you'd like to be treated.
14. Be a curator
Instead of browsing the aisles of a store, apps taught us they can curate things for us and make suggestions on what we'd like (ex: Apple Music, Spotify or Netflix). Do the same for your customers. Keep a list of what's hot or quick tips you can share (like how to extend the battery life on a phone).
Establish yourself as a thought leader.
15. Chat with customers (via SMS, Facebook, Whatsapp)
The majority of young customers want to receive a chat message from a business instead of just a phone call. Modernize the way you communicate by allowing your staff to do this via a centralized platform.
16. Read body language
Learning how to read tones, expressions, and body language will go a long way in helping you improve your people skills. It will also set you apart from other retailers.
17. Don't judge
Never. Like, ever. There is so much more to a person than what you can see on the surface. If they are upset, imagine that something traumatic could have happened to them that morning. You may not know the whole story. Show patience and don't match frustration with frustration.
18. Don't hover
Leave that to drones. Make yourself available, but don't make your customers uncomfortable. Following them around the store will do that. Just check in when you first meet them and let them know where they can find you if you need them.
19. Don't answer the phone with someone in front of you
SO MANY retail reps break this rule. The person in front of you took the time out of their busy day to (a) get dressed (b) find your address (c) drive or take transit to your location (d) spend time in your store (e) made it to the point of purchase. They take priority. Every time.
20. Be patient
Relationships take work, but they also don't happen overnight. It may take a dozen or more interactions over several years to build up a strong rapport. But it will be worth it.
21. Never say "I don't know"
Remove this three-word sentence from your vocabulary. Instead, say things like "I'll look into that for you", or "let me check with my manager".
22. Out of stock? Try to still add value
Offer to call around to find someone that has some stock and let them know you'll work on it before you leave. If they are in a rush to have the item, apologize and see if there is a place you can recommend in case you can't help (or even call ahead to check if they have it).
23. Call for backup
If you're busy with a customer and a lineup is growing, get your fellow team members to help out. There will be time to finish that break later. It takes a leader to know they can't do everything themselves.
24. Inspect merchandise
Double and triple check everything your customer purchases. Looks for defects, damage, or other quality assurance issues before the customer notices. They will appreciate you took the extra time before they left the store to ensure everything is in order.
25. Set the example
Lead your team by example. If you're not yet a team leader, this is a surefire way to became one quickly. Your efforts won't go unnoticed. Create internal processes to speed things up, look for ways to coach and help, and give (kind) feedback immediately instead of waiting for the monthly review.
27. Solve problems
You're not a salesmen, you're a problem solver. Focus on the customer's needs first and foremost, and the sales will flow naturally.
27. Be present
Convey to the customer that you're not distracted. Even if it's a busy day, take a breath before each interaction to give personal attention.
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