Falak Hyat (February 27, 2014)
The introduction of online shopping has brought with it the threat of diminishing retail store demands. Companies and marketing analysts now debate over whether the traditional model of a Brick- and -Mortar store has ended and the trend of online shopping has taken over.
There are many examples of businesses that operate successfully online, with all their dynamics in place, but have managed to bring the customer to the retail store and engage them further into purchasing the product and becoming a loyal customer.
The example of Apple would be apt, since Apple has 432 retail stores in 14 countries and an online store (available in 39 countries). These stores are the highest performing stores in the history of retail and attract the customer to return again and again, leading the United States retail market in terms of sales per unit area.
If stores are trying to capture customer loyalty and attract them to keep coming to the store instead of using the quick and convenient online alternative, stores have to offer more than simply selling products.
They need to instill great value in the minds of the customers by being problem solvers and equipping customers with ideas that can enhance their experiences. Customers can purchase merchandize both online and in stores, the difference should be the service that is provided in store, which a customer should look forward to.
The training of customer representatives distinguishes the service provided by your retail outlet from others and how customers respond to it.
We have highlighted a few fundamental characteristics that must be instilled in the representatives so they can better cater to the needs of the customers.
Customer service reps must be trained on how to approach and greet a customer when he or she enters the store. They should be on a lookout and gauge what a customer wants, whether he seems confused about a purchase or is looking for a solution to already purchased merchandise.
The representative must be warm and welcoming, showing the customer that they can ask as many questions as they want.
Customers can be very sensitive at times and not appreciate the friendly and inquisitive nature of service reps concerning their purchase. Reps must be trained to ask questions in a subtle manner and not probe too much into the space of the customer.
If a customer is making the effort of coming all the way to the retail outlet with a query or problem, he or she must never return without a solution. They might as well call or check online instead of taking the trouble of coming to the store, and not getting a solution.
The customer must look forward to visiting the store and be assured that he or she will not return without a solution. This kind of trust keeps the customer in the loyalty loop and gives them the confidence to continue using the brand.
Customer representatives should be trained to be problem solvers and instant solution providers, with always a backup plan or alternative to give, which can solve the problem, or at least keep it at bay, till it is permanently resolved.
Companies need to stress on building relationships with the customers and engaging them in a bond with the company through the representatives. No one likes introducing themselves every time they want assistance at a store and go through the same hassle.
Customer reps should build relationships with clients, greeting them every time they come, assisting them in all possible ways, saying goodbye appropriately and following up through phone or email to check if their problem has been solved.
This form of familiarization makes the customer comfortable and he or she will look to return to the store to get the valued service being provided.
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