Training your staff to deal with customers by displaying a positive attitude is an important part of retailing
Regardless of the size or scope of your operation, your business is directly affected by the treatment your customers receive. While it may seem obvious that your staff should be courteous and have genuine concern for customers, you must realize that many people in their twenties and thirties have not been “waited on.” They shop in self-serve music shops, shoe stores, and clothing stores. The only contact with salespersons is to be frisked by them after leaving the fitting room. Your staff should be trained to serve customers with a positive, non-argumentative attitude while showing courtesy and respect.
What constitutes courtesy and respect? It is up to the owner to discuss the appropriate attitude towards customers. But it is always important to train your employees to treat customers with care. Here are some guidelines for showing that you care about them.
Indifference, rudeness, sloppiness, impatience, aggression, and incompetence must be stopped before they affect your business.
- Your reason for existence is your customers; without them you have no business.
- The customer takes priority over everything else. There is no task or conversation more important.
- The best parking spaces are for the customers—not the employee of the month or the boss.
- A cheerful disposition is the correct one—no whining or complaining. Remarks about being overworked and having an overwhelming personal life are better left unsaid.
- Bookkeeping and housekeeping tasks are not to be done while customers are in the shop.
- Never begin vacuuming or ringing out the register when a customer is present. That shows disregard and a lack of respect. You may as well tell him or her to leave.
- If you are pricing a product when a customer comes in — stop immediately.
- The customer always has the right-of-way in the shop. Open doors, step aside, walk behind, and always excuse yourself.
- No conversation should take place that does not include the customer. The customer is a guest in your shop. A personal conversation between employees is out of the question! Never answer a cell phone working with a customer.
- Problems should be handled in a whisper or in the back room.
- When an item is not ready when promised, make every effort to reach the customer before it is due. You really lose points if a customer shows up before you have contacted her.
- Hours of the shop are set for the convenience of customers. Be at the shop at least 15 minutes before your scheduled opening so that your shop and employees are ready to serve your customers promptly. If a customer appears at the door early, he or she should be asked inside.
- A customer is greeted after he or she has entered. But do not pounce. Wait 5 to 10 seconds before saying good morning. Give the customer a chance to get in and establish him or herself.
- If you are busy with a customer when others enter the shop, simply acknowledge that person with a hello. They are less likely to leave.
- First impressions are important. The entry doors and floor must be clean. Work surfaces and mat and moulding samples must be kept free from fingerprints and nicks.
- Don’t ever mock a customer or do anything that creates an “us-against-them” attitude.
- Projects and customer’s work should not be left out in front of the shop. The risk of damage is high, and the privacy of the customer should be maintained.
- Music and clothing of employees should suit the image your store wants to promote. Great care should be exercised when selecting music. Rock and classical music can be equally distracting. Music should not be too loud or even noticeable. Music is not for entertainment. It is used to create a mood and to fill the air when there are more employees than customers.
- Alternative methods of payment, such as a required deposit, charge cards, and layaway plans, are posted discreetly.
- Do not post signs that may “yell” or “demand.” Signage should not imply a lack of trust. For example, signs that state, “Items left at your own risk; not responsible for goods left after 30 days” diminish customer confidence.
- Never keep a customer waiting. It shows a lack of regard for a customer’s time.
- Be careful when addressing customers. It’s Mrs. or Mr. until you are notified by the customer to call her or him something else. Never use the term “Dear” to older people—it is not as welcome as you may think. You can’t go wrong with the highest form of respect.