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5 Retail Customer Service Tips to Grow Sales

Gloria Kopp
Gloria Kopp
Guest Contributor

When sales disappoint despite concerted promotions and marketing, an opportunity may lie with your retail staff, and training them in building rapport, ensuring they present the right attitude and getting help when needed it can make all the difference.

The truth is you can run all kinds of promotions, advertise yourself well, and ensure you have great stock – but your retail business could still be underachieving in sales. While we tend to overlook human contact in modern business plans and instead focus on data, online campaigns, and statistics, when you want to make a sale in retail, you need good sales assistants. You need people who know how to build rapport, and how to encourage visitors to become customers and buy your goods. Without these foundational and fundamental team members, your business will never live up to its potential, and your profits will never be as good as they could be. The following five tips can help boost the customer service you provide, which will no doubt lead to increased sales as a result.

Provide Conversational Training

This may sound condescending, or even unnecessary, but a frequent complaint from older shoppers is that young sales assistants are more focused on their own phones, and speak in monosyllables. Make sure your sales staff can build rapport and at least appear friendly. You might provide them with topics of conversation, or conduct role plays to help them get started in talking to visitors in the shop, but it’s definitely a part of training that cannot be overlooked. “They [sales associates] should also be aware that conversations with their colleagues often repel customers too. While young people are the most accused of having poor social skills, this can apply to all ages, and is good training to apply across all staff,” says Jonathan Reed, customer support manager at PaperFellows.

Change Your Hiring Practices

Often businesses experience problems with sales staff when they’ve hired based on qualifications and experience. The truth is that this isn’t necessarily the best thing to focus on, as most people can be taught how to sell and service in a retail environment. However, it is not as easy at all to teach people how to be friendly, warm, or engaging. If you hire people based on their attitude and personality and teach them how to do the job, rather than hire people who already know how to do the job but might not fit into your desired store shopping experience, you’ll see your sales increase.

Use Training Courses in Modules

“When you’re hiring new people, they’ll have a lot to learn. It’s a lot easier for them to take everything in if they’re given short courses regularly, than one long training session. These modules also serve as a great refresher for current staff, and help make sure your message of providing a great customer experience is thoroughly instilled in your employees,” comments Amber Coburn, eCommerce Analyst at Essayroo. As the blocks are short, you can better accommodate the availability of your staff, and as they’re spread out, you can assess what people remember from previous sessions, and what people may need to focus on.

Reinforce That the Business is for the Customer

You need to make sure your staff is aware that, while they’re valued and appreciated, your business is not about them. If they work in the kind of shop they don’t normally browse, if the clientele are a different generation, if they couldn’t afford the merchandise, that doesn’t mean they can’t sell it. They need to build a customer experience based on the client’s wants and needs, and leave their own preferences out of it completely. Carol Wise, an Operation Manager from Boomessays comments on the issue, saying, “Your staff needs to leave their personal opinions at the door, and instead concentrate on the customer and the business, otherwise your clients will sense that the staff aren’t really keen on the merchandise, or interested in their purchases, and look elsewhere.”

Hire Experts!

If you’ve tried to implement some new training procedures, if your manager and current staff have tried to bring all of your employees up to a high standard, but the customer experience is still somewhat lacking, then it can be a great idea to employ a professional consultant or agency to train your staff. This may be a cost you don’t want to bear, but the returns on the investment can be well worth this effort. For many businesses this is a last resort, however others use this early, and maintain consistent sales afterwards.

Overall, when your sales are lacking in spite of concerted promotions and marketing, the problem most likely lies with your retail staff. Training them in rapport, making sure they have a good attitude, and getting help when you need it will all help you to boost sales and bask in the profits.

About the writer: Gloria Kopp is a digital marketer and an e-learning consultant from Manville, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Wyoming and started her career as a business writer and an educator, and now works as a tutor at Ukwritings company. She is a regular contributor to such websites as Engadget, Academized, Huffingtonpost, and others.

Join the #retail, #inspiringretail and #SmartStore conversations on Twitter @gloria_kopp and @RetailNext, as well as at www.facebook.com/retailnext.

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