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The Top 7 Things Customers Want [Guest Post]

customers-wantCustomers can be your best advocates — or the worst detractors for your business. But what do our customers really want from customer service personnel at retail stores? A huge part of customer service is saying and doing the right things to make a customer feel heard, appreciated, and comfortable in your store, yet many people in customer service positions are oblivious to how a customer is feeling or what they’re thinking during the interaction. Focusing on the customer’s point of view during a retail experience can lead to much better service, more positive experiences by your customers and increased sales. Read on to learn what your customers really want.

Genuine greetings

There’s a big difference between a friendly face looking up to greet a customer with a warm “Hi, how are you?” and a customer service rep standing at the door waiting to sing out an obviously well-rehearsed “Hello, welcome to [name of store], how are you doing today?” The second makes customers feel as though they’re an item on a checklist: “Customer enters. Greeting delivered? CHECK. Proceed to step 2.” Customers want to feel like they’re individuals and being served by individuals, not robots.

Available, but not clingy, staff

When customers have a question about a product or are looking for a specific item they’re unable to find, they want to be able to find an available staff member without searching around or waiting several minutes for the employee to be free. At the other extreme, though, customers who feel like staff are looking over their shoulders, offering unsolicited advice or being asked if they need help every other minute will often take their business to an establishment where they can shop in peace.

Staff who care

It’s important to hire your customer service staff carefully, as bored or negative staff members can be a huge turn-off to customers shopping in your store. When a customers sees a staff member filing her nails, sighing and staring at the clock, he thinks that if even the employees hate being there, he must be a fool for being there by choice — much less making purchases.

Knowledgeable staff

If you’re working in a camera shop, you should know the differences between similar types of cameras, and if you’re working in a clothing store, you should be able to advise customers on outfits for various occasions. With online shopping so prevalent these days, customers who visit a brick-and-mortar store often do so because they want guidance from real people, not just websites.

A hands-on experience

Another reason customers choose brick-and-mortar stores over online shopping is that they can try out products before they buy them. In the case of clothing stores, this means you should provide dressing rooms for customers to try on items of clothing. For gourmet food retailers, this means you should provide samples. For electronics stores, this means you should let customers play around with the technology before they purchase it. Customers who have the opportunity to try out items they’re interested in purchasing are more likely to be satisfied with their shopping experience, and are more likely to purchase the items they’re considering.

Cleanliness

Shopping is sometimes a necessity, but for many, retail stores are an exciting escape from everyday life. If the store is dirty, it feels uninviting — like shopping is an obligation more than a thrill.

A good deal

Customers who leave your store feeling like they got a great discount or received something extra from the shopping experience will be much happier than those who feel nickel-and-dimed. Offer free gift wrap, include free batteries with battery-operated devices, have a sale or give customers a coupon at checkout to use next time they come in.

About the Author:Valerie Cecil is a research coordinator, marketing specialist and writer for Outbounding.com. Her work allows her to investigate many topics, ranging from online consumer relations to effective communication in the workplace. Her hobbies include kayaking, watercolor, and doing marketing work for www.retailpackaging.com

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