Typically, when a retail store gets its merchandise on shelves and opens door to customers, the hope is that customers will come and have a look at what products it carries, check the prices and quality of the products, and then make purchases. In helping customers fill their needs or fix their problems, the store wants to achieve an important thing: to sell and make money. However, the store’s chances of making those sales or getting customers to return to the store again and again, are hinged on one crucial thing: quality of its service!
Many fanciful terminologies have been employed to define what customer service is. But put succinctly, customer service are things you do and structures you put in place to make your customers satisfied and happy. Until you have helped your customers fill their needs or fix their problems in a professional, excellent manner; until you have put a smile on your customers’ faces, you have not rendered a quality service.
Because of its importance on their businesses therefore, companies make big effort to evaluate and ascertain if they are doing well in their customer service effort. They sometimes contract research firms or assemble people in-house to examine whether or not the customer service they render is on point. This is for them to know if they have served their customers well enough that they are happy to come back and/or refer them to others. And this research, too often, gulps big money and saps energy.
However, recently, I discovered that a business does not necessarily need to wait until a research is conducted before it knows if it is doing well, customer service wise. I found that a business’ customer service can be scored right after its customers receive its service. After spending a number of years in the retail industry and engaging customers in a number of ways myself, I found that the service of a retail store, or any other business in any industry for that matter, can be scored by customers themselves — immediately after they are served. And now, this is simple: when customers are happy enough to smile and tell you THANK YOU on their way out of your store, your intuition tells you that you have rendered a quality customer service. Yes, you satisfied them!
I have seen customers walk out of stores with anger and frustration. I have also seen customers visit a store, got a very bad service yet maintain their cool but determined within them to never patronize that store again. But one notable thing have I detected: customers can tell you ‘thank you’, too. Customers also show appreciation, but it is only when they receive quality service from your store.
As simple or instantaneous as customers’ ‘thank-you’ statement might appear, it is strongly attached to their emotions. It indicates how they feel about the service you rendered to them. And whether you like it or not, our emotions drive the choices we make as people. When customers say thank you, it shows they are feeling fulfilled and satisfied. And this, invariably, increases their chances of coming back to your store or referring you to others.
So you should ask: what percentage of customers says “thank you” before leaving my store? What percentage of them displays good, joyful countenance after checking out? Retails stores, as well as other businesses, can always watch out and hope for the ‘thank you(s)’ from customers as they speak volume of the perception of customers about the quality of the store’s service. Store staff should always be encouraged to serve customers excellently well that they are happy to drop nice compliments before exiting the store.
It must be noted that customers’ impression of a store starts from:
- Their entry into the store;
- The varieties and quality of merchandise they find on shelves;
- Their ease of movement in and around the store;
- The courtesy, mannerism, tone, gestures, professionalism and eloquence displayed by the store staff;
- The knowledge and ability of store staff to recommend suitable products that suit customers needs;
- And their eventual check-out from the store.
The excellence that the store demonstrates in all of these areas would determine whether or not its service is of good quality, and customers themselves would be the one to do that scoring through their simple ‘thank you’ and other compliments.