5 Ways to Build Great Customer Service in Your Store

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Retailers face a lot of obstacles, especially in the wake of pandemic restrictions, lockdowns and labor shortages. But despite all of these challenges, it’s still up to you and your team to make sure customer service is an asset to your store and to your community.

Customers only know what you show and tell them when they walk in the store—they aren’t aware of late deliveries, a manager calling in sick, or whether or not you skipped breakfast. They only know that they want to shop at your business. And, like anyone, your customers want to have a good experience there. To that end, here are five ideas to keep in mind when you’re building, maintaining, or in some cases, rebuilding great customer service at your store:

1. Hire the best people possible for your team: This may seem like an obvious first tip, and it’s understandable if you thought, “Well, yes, that’s what I always try to do anyway.” But consider this—labor shortages brought on, in part, by the pandemic, have made hiring staff an art form and science.

One possible pool of candidates may be found in your store’s own customers. In fact, the most self-directed and knowledgeable among them could end up being some of the best members of your team. But ultimately, recognizing and mentoring your staff means allowing the freedom to best serve your customers and paying them well, too. Your staff is the face of your business, and even in this tight market, selecting people who bring passion, enthusiasm and dedication to their work creates an energy level that your customers will pick up on instantly. And that’s one of the best ways to keep your business thriving.

2. Recognize every customer who enters your store: Building excellent customer service means recognizing each customer that walks through your doors as an individual, and not just another anonymous person who happens to be in your place of business. As I mentioned earlier, keeping this level of awareness can be a challenge on some days: someone called in sick, the supplier just showed up when everyone was away at lunch, or suddenly your internet access went out. So, there are definitely times when it becomes tough to settle our thoughts long enough to realize our acknowledgement of our fellow person. But it’s critical. It means seeing our customers as individuals with their own needs, their own busy day, and very likely, their own personal trials that they’ve just brought along into your place of business. And it means dedicating yourself to providing the best possible experience they can have in your store.

3. Actively listen to your customers: In an era of constant interruptions and limited attention spans, actively listening to your customers goes a long way. When you really make an effort to hear not only what people are saying, but how they are saying it, you realize that they aren’t just in your store to buy a product—they are coming to you for help as a recognized expert. Always be prepared to step into that role. If that means more education on specific nutrients or product lines, so be it—that time and knowledge will never be lost and it may gain you additional business for life.

4. Be okay with not selling a product to every customer: Bottom lines are certainly key to any business success, but the relationships you build with customers matter in the long term as much as immediate sales do on a given day. Plus, as important as your undivided attention is to building great customer service, it’s also important to not crowd your customers, or make them feel pressured into choosing something that might not really suit their needs. Building excellent customer service means being able to read people well, and that comes with training, mentoring your staff, and most of all, experience.

5. Imagine your store through the eyes of a customer: The old saying, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, is a very appropriate one in any business.

I think it pays to frequently try this exercise: consider what it is like to be a customer at your store, especially a new customer, who isn’t familiar with you, your store’s layout or the product lines you carry. It’s tough to take on this perspective if your store hasn’t undergone many changes to main aisles and if displays tend to blend into the background. And that may be something to address.

But viewing your store objectively, is the first impression when you open the door a pleasant one? Do you have appropriate signage, posters, shelf talkers, and other guides that lead customers to the sections or supplements they need? How are the aisles? Are they wide enough to be accessible and accommodating? But the big question is: if this wasn’t your store, would you shop here?

And be honest—if your answer is a definite “maybe,” then visiting the competition can be very helpful here. It doesn’t mean you have to copy everything that the other guys do, but you might want to adapt whatever works for them at your own store, too, with your own team’s flourishes, of course. And I’m not talking about pricing here; discounting can be an ever-decreasing spiral, and it can ultimately cause serious pain to your own business. But keeping an open mind and noting what is successful there can help you keep your store fresh and inviting to your customers, too.

The real bottom line is this: treat everyone the way you’d like to be treated. I think that we’ve seen a lot of shortages due to the pandemic, both in supply chains and civility. I also think that renewed efforts to build excellent customer service and face-to-face sales has never been more important.

The sum of it all is that we practice the golden rule in business as well as in life. And really, that doesn’t matter if you’re in a retail setting, although that’s typically the front line—it matters in all of the offices, manufacturing plants and every other endeavor. After all, we want our daily lives to be infused with joyfulness; let’s try to pass that along to everyone we meet as well. VR

A highly regarded leader in the natural products industry, Terry Lemerond is founder and president of EuroPharma, Inc. He also founded Enzymatic Therapy, Inc. and PhytoPharmica, Inc. and is currently co-owner of the Terry Naturally Health Food Stores in Green Bay & Suamico, WI, which recently won its eighth consecutive consumer choice award as “Best of the Bay.” With more than 50 years in the natural products industry, Lemerond has researched and developed more than 400 nutritional and botanical formulations that continue to be top-selling products in the market. Lemerond shares his wealth of experience and knowledge in health and nutrition through his educational programs, including a weekly radio show and newsletter, podcasts, webinars, and personal speaking engagements. He is author of 13 books, including Seven Keys to Vibrant Health, Seven Keys to Unlimited Personal Achievement and 50+ Natural Health Secrets.

Retailers face a lot of obstacles, especially in the wake of pandemic restrictions, lockdowns and labor shortages. But despite all of these challenges, it’s still up to you and your team to make sure customer service is an asset to your store and to your community.

Customers only know what you show and tell them when they walk in the store—they aren’t aware of late deliveries, a manager calling in sick, or whether or not you skipped breakfast. They only know that they want to shop at your business. And, like anyone, your customers want to have a good experience there. To that end, here are five ideas to keep in mind when you’re building, maintaining, or in some cases, rebuilding great customer service at your store:

1. Hire the best people possible for your team: This may seem like an obvious first tip, and it’s understandable if you thought, “Well, yes, that’s what I always try to do anyway.” But consider this—labor shortages brought on, in part, by the pandemic, have made hiring staff an art form and science.

One possible pool of candidates may be found in your store’s own customers. In fact, the most self-directed and knowledgeable among them could end up being some of the best members of your team. But ultimately, recognizing and mentoring your staff means allowing the freedom to best serve your customers and paying them well, too. Your staff is the face of your business, and even in this tight market, selecting people who bring passion, enthusiasm and dedication to their work creates an energy level that your customers will pick up on instantly. And that’s one of the best ways to keep your business thriving.

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2. Recognize every customer who enters your store: Building excellent customer service means recognizing each customer that walks through your doors as an individual, and not just another anonymous person who happens to be in your place of business. As I mentioned earlier, keeping this level of awareness can be a challenge on some days: someone called in sick, the supplier just showed up when everyone was away at lunch, or suddenly your internet access went out. So, there are definitely times when it becomes tough to settle our thoughts long enough to realize our acknowledgement of our fellow person. But it’s critical. It means seeing our customers as individuals with their own needs, their own busy day, and very likely, their own personal trials that they’ve just brought along into your place of business. And it means dedicating yourself to providing the best possible experience they can have in your store.

3. Actively listen to your customers: In an era of constant interruptions and limited attention spans, actively listening to your customers goes a long way. When you really make an effort to hear not only what people are saying, but how they are saying it, you realize that they aren’t just in your store to buy a product—they are coming to you for help as a recognized expert. Always be prepared to step into that role. If that means more education on specific nutrients or product lines, so be it—that time and knowledge will never be lost and it may gain you additional business for life.

4. Be okay with not selling a product to every customer: Bottom lines are certainly key to any business success, but the relationships you build with customers matter in the long term as much as immediate sales do on a given day. Plus, as important as your undivided attention is to building great customer service, it’s also important to not crowd your customers, or make them feel pressured into choosing something that might not really suit their needs. Building excellent customer service means being able to read people well, and that comes with training, mentoring your staff, and most of all, experience.

5. Imagine your store through the eyes of a customer: The old saying, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, is a very appropriate one in any business.

I think it pays to frequently try this exercise: consider what it is like to be a customer at your store, especially a new customer, who isn’t familiar with you, your store’s layout or the product lines you carry. It’s tough to take on this perspective if your store hasn’t undergone many changes to main aisles and if displays tend to blend into the background. And that may be something to address.

But viewing your store objectively, is the first impression when you open the door a pleasant one? Do you have appropriate signage, posters, shelf talkers, and other guides that lead customers to the sections or supplements they need? How are the aisles? Are they wide enough to be accessible and accommodating? But the big question is: if this wasn’t your store, would you shop here?

And be honest—if your answer is a definite “maybe,” then visiting the competition can be very helpful here. It doesn’t mean you have to copy everything that the other guys do, but you might want to adapt whatever works for them at your own store, too, with your own team’s flourishes, of course. And I’m not talking about pricing here; discounting can be an ever-decreasing spiral, and it can ultimately cause serious pain to your own business. But keeping an open mind and noting what is successful there can help you keep your store fresh and inviting to your customers, too.

The real bottom line is this: treat everyone the way you’d like to be treated. I think that we’ve seen a lot of shortages due to the pandemic, both in supply chains and civility. I also think that renewed efforts to build excellent customer service and face-to-face sales has never been more important.

The sum of it all is that we practice the golden rule in business as well as in life. And really, that doesn’t matter if you’re in a retail setting, although that’s typically the front line—it matters in all of the offices, manufacturing plants and every other endeavor. After all, we want our daily lives to be infused with joyfulness; let’s try to pass that along to everyone we meet as well. VR

A highly regarded leader in the natural products industry, Terry Lemerond is founder and president of EuroPharma, Inc. He also founded Enzymatic Therapy, Inc. and PhytoPharmica, Inc. and is currently co-owner of the Terry Naturally Health Food Stores in Green Bay & Suamico, WI, which recently won its eighth consecutive consumer choice award as “Best of the Bay.” With more than 50 years in the natural products industry, Lemerond has researched and developed more than 400 nutritional and botanical formulations that continue to be top-selling products in the market. Lemerond shares his wealth of experience and knowledge in health and nutrition through his educational programs, including a weekly radio show and newsletter, podcasts, webinars, and personal speaking engagements. He is author of 13 books, including Seven Keys to Vibrant Health, Seven Keys to Unlimited Personal Achievement and 50+ Natural Health Secrets.



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