by Beth Medley, Founder of Hunter + Boo
As the founder of a start-up online store it is inevitable you end up wearing many hats each day. One of the most important, but easily overlooked aspects is how to deliver customer service excellence.
Online stores are not dealing with people In Real Life, and as we spent all that time making our e-commerce site perfect, we often assume that customer service will take care of itself.
We should remember that the way we manage every single communication channel either on or offline provides the chance of a new sale, a genuine referral, or could be the reason people come back for more.
Service excellence also makes you stand out from your competitors.
Here are five ways to deliver exceptional customer service for your online retail business:
1. It’s all about Social Media. Listen to your customers online. Set aside time daily to hang out on your social media channels and actively engage with your followers. It’s a great place to get a feel for trends or a gap in your product range for development.
2. Say What? Provide multiple channels for your customers to contact you and make the process easy and seamless: email, website feedback forms, direct messages through social channels. You won’t be meeting your customers face-to-face so make sure they are talking to you in other ways.
3. Don’t be afraid of the bad review. Give your customers the ability to give your products or services a review on Facebook. If you do receive a less than favorable review, contact the customer directly to find out more and count it as a learning experience.
4. What the FAQ? Have an up-to-date and clearly written FAQ page. Many of your customer enquiries will fall into common categories. Review these and update your FAQ page accordingly.
5. Take it offline. Are you doing pop-ups or events? Now is the chance to meet your customers face-to-face and really get some nitty gritty feedback on your products or services. If you’re not, consider focus groups. It’s a relatively low-cost way to get invaluable and direct feedback on your products or services. Companies like ARBC can offer this service.
You do not have a second chance to make a first impression, so it is very important that you are always smiling, inspiring and giving the customer a warm welcoming. Body language is more powerful than words, so make sure you have a positive attitude.
A customer is like a guest, so you have to see yourself as the host. Your guests at home are different, and so are your customers. Pay attention to the little things and you will save a lot of time. They are more important than you think.
When you know which type of customer you have, then you can find the right item and give the customer the correct information.
Storytelling is very important today, because a lot of customers for instans already have a pair of jeans, so you have to know what to say to sell another pair.
If you can tell them, what they need before they find it themselves, then you will have a very good and loyal customer. If a customer asks for a dress, always find out what kind of dress the customer wants. You have to give them a total look. Do not hesitate to ask, if you should find a pair of shoes to match the dress, show them other accessories, give advice about makeup and hair styling to the dress, if the customer has interest. As a sales advisor you have to understand that it is important to know more than just about clothes and trends. A lot of customers do not have time to find the perfect hairdresser, the best beauty salon or the newest restaurant. You have to inspire the customer and tell about new things. If a customer gets an exceptionel good shopping experience, trust me, you will have a very loyal customer, who will only ask for you in the shop. I think that is the biggest compliment you can get, because we all know that time is money.
Make sure the customer feels at home, make a cup of coffee, show them around the shop. If a customer buys a lot of things from your shop, maybe give them a little gift or celebrate it with them serving champagne.
If a customer asks for something, you do not have in the shop, do not hesitate to help the customer to find it, - maybe you find shops or go with the customer to another shop. Make sure to follow up on the customer (aftersale), because you can build an ongoing relationship with them. Send the customer a picture, when you get the new collection from their favourite brand ( pre- sale). Listen carefully to what the customer is saying to you, so you know what to speak about next time they visit the shop. Always remember the customer's name, shoe size and so on and find clothes that fits the customer's style and bodytype. The most important thing is to make the customer look and feel more confident and beautiful. If the pants they try on - do not look good on the customer - then tell them, because if you tell them they look wonderful each time they try on a new item - do you really think they will come back to you another time? Furthermore you have to find out what they do for a living, because maybe they have a dresscode at work or they travel a lot.
When you are dealing with a tourist then maybe help them with a booking at a restaurant, follow them to other shops, maybe they would like you to send their bags to the hotel so they do not have to carry all the bags by themself. Maybe you write a thank you note or send them a Christmas card.
Excellence service is about doing more than expected and always remember that a good customer is a very easy way to achieve more new customers, because next time the customer visits the shop, she will bring her friends.
In the field of Beauty and Makeup services according to me, the most important criteria to meet is Clients requirements.
A lot of the time we end up buying products that don't suit us or that we really don't need. This is because we fall prey to the sales talk.
As a Makeover Artist and Consultant, I prefer to suggest to women the most Apt products and techniques to suit their lifestyle. I try and understand the requirements of a client, be it Bride, Celebrity, Model. Each of them have very different requirements normally.
In my Workshop I would cater to the clients lifestyle needs. And teach techniques in accordance. I would not suggest too many products, rather a few that multitasking.
Flexibility is another service essential in my field. If at the last moment the client feels a change in mind of style for hair or Makeup, I would oblige. Change in location happens sometimes and so does time.
Customer satisfaction is the final product. It's all in the feeling. If a client feels great and looks great, that's all that matters. Some client are brave and bold to try new looks, where as others are most comfortable with looks they have tried before.
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Sometimes the best moments in life are humble, cherished, and don’t cost a
fortune. Think back to the time you received a complimentary upgrade, or when the
barista remembered your order and greeted you by name, the charismatic bar
tender who curated the perfect evening, or finding yourself lost in a new city where
a stranger offers directions voluntarily. These small moments create an experience,
and change your perception of a situation, time, or place. This is hospitality.
The art-form of hospitality is a guilty pleasure of mine, having spent 15 years in
hotel, and client relationship management. We derive pleasure from creating
moments for guests, visitors or strangers. It is generosity and a passion for making
people happy, and I expect my peers to share the same sentiment. After all, we
created an industry out of selling an intangible item, experience, or moment.
Hospitality, like all art, requires passion, perseverance and grit. It requires a certain
type of person to come to work each day and carefully orchestrate moments for
strangers, not always bearing witness to their enjoyment or receiving the praise.
Maya Angelou stated it perfectly, when she said; “People will forget what you said,
forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This
represents true hospitality.
I have witnessed through my own experiences and lengthy career, that this art form
seems to be losing significance. Will hospitality eventually be lost to time, like the
bygone days of drive-in-movies, romance of railway travel, and the formality of
dressing for dinner? I hope not. I hope to incentivize hospitality, and safeguard it for
future generations to show all industries the greatness of this art form and the
importance of the curators. Let’s take a moment to recognize the unsung heroes
who didn’t change history, win wars, and who’s name you have forgotten. The
heroes who orchestrate rare moments that make us ‘feel’, as Maya Angelou so eloquently captured. This is the art of hospitality.
Sofie – Claire Di Donato
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