Looking to upgrade service at your retail location? Consider these tips to improve how you and your staff interact with shoppers:
1. Use the CARP method
Retail managers should establish a protocol for dealing with customers who have a problem. Jason Brick, an American Express Open Forum contributor, recommended using the tried and true CARP method to get problematic situations under control as soon as possible. Here's how it works:
- Control the situation.
- Acknowledge the problem.
- Refocus the conversation on solutions.
- Problem solve with the customer.
This easy-to-remember method prevents the situation from worsening, acknowledges that there is a problem (and the brand cares enough to solve it), then works with the customer to find a solution that they can share ownership over.
2. Inspect merchandise before it goes on the show floor
One of the easiest ways to avoid problematic interactions with customers is to ensure that every piece of merchandise is inspected before it goes on sale. That way, you can lower your risk of returned items. Plus, you can send damaged goods back to the manufacturer immediately for refund or replacement.
3. Praise employees in public, discipline in private
Organizational psychologist and Harvard Business Review contributor Roger Schwarz explained that criticizing employees in sight of their coworkers not only lowers that employee's morale and productivity, but also produces similar effects on the entire team. If possible, avoid being critical of your employees in front of customers and coworkers.
4. Leave customers alone when they're not interested in talking
According to research from HRC Retail Advisory, 95 percent of surveyed shoppers said they want to be left alone when shopping. Hovering near shoppers could drive them away from your shop. Rather than approaching every individual who enters your store, try simply being visible and available. If customers have a question, they'll ask.
5. Limit smartphone use on the show floor
When shoppers do need help, they want it quickly and efficiently. Ignoring a customer in need is a sure way to lose their business. One simple way to ensure your employees remain attentive to customer needs is to limit their smartphone use during work hours. Unless they need a phone for business purposes, devices should be left in a locker.
6. Always have an ace in your back pocket
There may come a time when a customer is so angry that no amount of apologizing will help the situation. Whether or not your store is at fault for the grievance is moot. If a customer is making a scene, it's best to get them moving as fast as possible. The only thing worse than dealing with an irate customer is doing so without a plan.
Managers should have at least one option in their back pocket to soothe angry customers. It could be a steep discount, a full refund or something else entirely. Whatever it is, managers should be relatively certain that it will smooth out even the harshest of arguments.
Want more information on how to improve operations at your retail store? Visit our resource center today to learn more.