7 Steps to Stop a Customer From Buying Nothing

Recently I was in Covent Garden and I decided to pop into French Connection while I was there.  I am very glad that I did so as I received star quality service from one particular staff member.  I had seen a navy blue silky top in the sale in another store and wanted to see if they had it in my size.

  1. Welcome the customer when they arrive

As soon as I arrived in the ladies’ department, the staff member took the opportunity to smile at me and say, “Hello.”  I immediately felt important.

  1. Offer assistance

Once I had browsed for a minute, the staff member approached me casually and advised me that she was available to assist if I needed any help with sizes.  She did this in a very polite way that was not intrusive.

  1. Stop the customer on their way out of the store

Once I had browsed the store I realised that they did not have the navy blue silk top that I was looking for.  I made my way out of the store.  Just as I was leaving, the staff member asked me if I had been looking for anything in particular.

  1. Know your stock

I told the staff member about the navy blue top.  She knew exactly what top I was talking about and she led me to where she thought it would be.  She said that she thought they had three of them left.  She clearly knew her stock!

  1. Think of alternative solutions to the customer’s need

When the staff member found that the top was not on display, she checked my size and then went to see if it was in the stock room.  When she couldn’t find it there, she listed three nearby stores that I could try.

  1. Work as a team

When I told the staff member that I had already checked those stores, she asked her colleague to double check whether they had the top.  Her colleague suggested one other place that she could check.  The staff member was still unable to find the top.

  1. Offer something similar to what the customer originally requested

The staff member then suggested a similar top that I might like instead.  I said that I was not keen on the alternative.

I left the store without making a purchase.  However I was very impressed by the staff member’s dedication to her work and she made a big effort to find a solution for me.  She did all of the above without any prompting from me and without any signs of being put out.

Dealing with Pressure

shoe displaySo it’s January and that means January sales.  At times Oxford Street was so busy I felt as though I could barely move.  I popped into two different shoe stores.  The first was Aldo.  The place was manic.  I didn’t fancy my chances at getting served.  Despite this, within a few minutes of my arrival, a staff member approached me and offered me assistance.

teamwork quoteI asked for three different pairs of shoes in my size.  The staff member went straight over to a screen in the middle of the store and was able to type in a request for the shoes.  Aldo obviously had carefully planned for the busy footfall and had plenty of staff in place.  The process for requesting shoes on a screen was efficient as it cut out the time taken for a staff member to walk back and forth to the stock room.  Instead they had different members of staff in each area to complete each part of the task – great teamwork. My requested shoes were with me within a couple of minutes.

The second store was Camper.  This was a much smaller store.  I could see three staff members on the shop floor.  I noticed a couple of pairs of shoes that I wanted to try on.  As I looked around to see if any staff member was free, I noticed another customer asking a staff member for a pair of shoes.  I was quite shocked.  The staff member completely blanked the customer and walked past her.  I could see the disappointment and disgust in the customer’s face and she put down the shoes and left the store straight away.  I decided that I wasn’t going to hang around to be treated in the same manner and I too left the store.

leadership quoteClearly the staff members in both stores were under pressure.  Camper had no process or plan in place to make the service more efficient.  However I think the key thing here is that the staff member in Camper chose to ignore the customer.  It would have made a world of difference if he had been able to calmly apologise and state that he was busy serving another customer and that he would be with her as soon as he had finished.  Even better would have been if he had acknowledged the customer before she had resorted to try and approach him herself.   Although the customer may not have been served any quicker, it would have shown that the staff member cared.  Attitude is important when it comes to customer satisfaction. What is your experience of shopping in the sales?  I would be interested to know in the comments below.

More Than A Cafe

cafe a boardI had a heart warming experience when I went for lunch the other week.  The staff member at the counter greeted me in a cheerful manner and asked me how I was.  I asked for the chicken burger, which was what I normally ordered.  The staff member took the opportunity to let me know that they recently had a new menu.  She commented that she wasn’t sure whether I had visited their outlet since it had been updated.  She told me with enthusiasm how they now had some lovely salads and some new pasta dishes.  Her enthusiasm washed off on me and I felt privileged that she had taken the time to encourage me to try the new ideas.  She also offered me a loyalty card and took the time to explain the various free items that I could earn.  It was great to see someone take such pride in the service that they were offering.  I felt encouraged to return, both to try the new items on the menu and to earn free gifts from my loyalty card!

The Value of Great Service

This week I have visited two different venues in view of holding a conference there.  Both of these venues are owned by the same company.  However they couldn’t have been more different in the welcome that they provided.

fawlty towersOn arrival at the first venue, I told the receptionist my name and who I was there to see.  When the receptionist called the person who I had booked the appointment with, I could tell from his conversation that the staff member was not expecting me.  I had to wait for around five minutes before she arrived to meet me in the reception area.  The worst part of the visit came when the staff member opened the door to the room where the event was to be held and a rat ran all the way across the floor!  I am not a fan of these animals at the best of times and I certainly did not expect to see one inside an upmarket venue.  The staff member then showed me one of their most exclusive bedrooms.  It smelt damp and musty and there was a general feeling of a lack of cleanliness.  I doubt I will be returning.

At the second venue, in contrast, I felt inspired and uplifted by the welcome, hospitality and service that I received. Even prior to my arrival, the Events Co-ordinator called me and let me know they were looking forward to meeting me. She also sent me an email with clear directions to the venue.  Upon arrival, there was not just the Events Co-ordinator, but also the Sales Director, waiting in the reception area to meet me.  They thanked me in a genuine and enthusiastic manner for coming to see them today.  The Sales Director said that meeting people like me was one of her favourite parts of her job. This put me at ease and made me feel welcome.

afternoon tea The staff members told me that they had reserved an area in the bar.  I couldn’t believe the sight when I sat down.  They had prepared a magnificent afternoon tea for me, with ornate crockery and an appetising fresh fruit platter.  I felt as though I was being treated like a queen.  They checked whether my name was spelt as ‘Rachael’ or ‘Rachel’.  This showed the level of attention to detail that they were making to ensure that I would be pleased with the experience that they were offering.  While we were sitting down, a man came up to the table and shook my hand.  He said that he was the Operations Director.  He checked that I was happy with my visit so far.  He gave me his business card and invited me to get in touch at any time.  I felt like a VIP by this point.

quote about being extraordinaryAfter the tea, I was shown through to the room where the event would be held.  The staff had arranged for my logo to be displayed on a projector at the front of the room. There was also a message displayed to welcome me to their venue.  The Sales Director enthused about how excited they were at the prospect of working with my company.  She said that she had been on the estate where my business is located as they have another client there.   She said she had driven past my office and was therefore very excited when she heard that I had made an enquiry.  She asked about other events that we hold throughout the year and told me that it would be great to form a partnership.

The Sales Director named a few of their blue chip clients and this showed the level of service that they offered.  She also told me a bit about the history of the building and also mentioned some TV shows that had been filmed there. The Event Co-ordinator let me know that she would look after me throughout the whole process.  The Sales Director joked that the Event Co-ordinator was always there and didn’t have time off as they couldn’t afford to be without her as she was so valuable to them.  I loved this attitude and it goes to prove that when staff feel important and valued, they will inevitably provide great service.  It was clear that the staff felt very proud of their venue.

It was very apparent how well the staff at the venue worked well as a team.  This created a welcoming and homely atmosphere.  This was evident to me by the following:

  • The Events Co-ordinator who I had originally spoken to on the telephone had told her Sales Director about my enquiry and had arranged for both of them to meet me.
  • The Operations Director had also been told about my visit and had come to meet me.
  • The staff in the corridors smiled and said, “Hello”, as we passed them.
  • Technical staff had arranged for my logo to appear on the screen in the conference room, together with a welcome message.
  • As we passed some other staff in the foyer, the Sales Director said that I could grab any staff member for assistance at any time. This made them stand out from many businesses in which individuals will only be focused on their own tasks and would not think about working as a team to assist their colleagues in other departments.

Throughout the visit, the Sales Director thanked me for my enquiry.  She acknowledged that I had given up my time to visit them today and thanked me for doing so.  She checked whether I was okay for time today, or whether I had any time constraints.  She also showed respect by asking me whether I preferred to be contacted by telephone or by email.  She explained that she understood that it could be difficult to take a telephone call during a busy working day.

customer service quoteThe Sales Director also told me that I could let them know in advance who the VIPs were in my company.  She said that they would arrange for these individuals to get a free upgrade to superior rooms.  She said that they would put wine, fruit, bottles of water and a nice welcome note from the General Manager in these rooms.  These added touches can go a long way.  Another way that the Sales Director made me feel valued was when she mentioned that she had noticed on my website that it was important for our company to be environmentally friendly.  She said, therefore, that they would be happy to provide crockery in place of disposable cups.

Towards the end of the conversation, I mentioned that we may be looking to hold a drinks reception on the evening of the first day of the event.  The Event Co-ordinator took this opportunity to close the sale by telling me that they would be happy to put on a drinks reception free of charge if I confirmed my booking by the following Friday.

thank you quoteBefore I left, the Sales Director made some friendly conversation with me.  She asked me about my hobbies and we found some common ground.  She used my name several times in conversation and said that it was good to get to know me.  On my way out I was handed a nice goody bag contained some chocolates, a notepad and some further information.

thank-you noteUpon leaving the venue I felt inspired and uplifted.  I truly felt as though I could form a partnership with this venue and that they would be dedicated to making sure that I was happy with their service.  It is also worth noting that I received an email straight after my visit thanking me for coming to see them.  I have a follow up email arranged for Tuesday as I said that I will be making my decision by then. It would be hard to choose another venue instead of this one after the warm welcome that I received.  I would be willing to pay more money for great service like this.

Experience Boutique can work with you to help your company achieve brand consistency across all of your locations.  Call us today on 0203 239 2326 or email Rachel at info@experienceboutique.co.uk

Experience Boutique Interview

Experience Boutique characterHi everyone, today I am interviewing one of our customer experience consultants, Jane.   Hi Jane, so what is the best experience you can think of as a customer?

It is good when someone greets you promptly and smiles as you walk through the door.  I suppose Capel Carpets in Watford is a company that I really like.  I have used their store a few times for carpet and Karndean.  When I go into the store, the owner always says, “Hello Jane,” in a warm and friendly voice.  He tells me that I am their best customer and so that makes me feel good.  It is nice to be remembered.  I can see that he is conscientious and that draws me to his company.  He is very knowledgeable and you can tell that he knows his stuff.  I bought some Karndean there recently for my new kitchen floor.

What is the worst experience you have had as a customer?

I had a bad experience in Morrisons.  However I think that was more to do with the other customers.

Well you mentioned that the queues were long at that time.  Long queues can have a knock on effect to cause irate customers so that may have been what happened during your visit.

Also If the staff don’t give eye contact then it seems as though they can’t be bothered.  I was recently on holiday in York.  I asked a staff member for some curtain tie backs.  I could see that she didn’t want to engage and would rather be reading whatever she was reading.  She had her head down.  When I asked her a question, she looked witheringly at me over her glasses as though I was a nuisance.  She told me that they only had what was on display.  She did not apologise or offer any alternatives.

What do you think makes good customer service?

A feeling that the staff believe in the company and what they are selling. Staff who care about getting you the most appropriate product or service you have come in for. So, for example, if something isn’t available, they make an effort to find a suitable alternative for you. This shows that making the customer happy is their priority, rather than making a profit for themselves.

Yes we know that each customer wants to feel as though they have received a personalised solution to their unique needs.

Yes and it is also good if the staff make an effort to create a personal connection.  For example if they introduce themselves and ask for your name.

When you are on a mystery visit, what are the three most important things that you are looking out for?  Let’s use an example of eating a meal in a restaurant.

  • Efficiency of service: If a customer is kept waiting they can start to question their purchase decision. This may prevent them from wanting to return in future.
  • Friendliness of staff: Staff can show their interest in customers by making sure they check back during the meal. They can also ask some personal questions, for example about the weather or the person’s day.  They could also recommend something from the menu to show enthusiasm and to show that they care.
  • Atmosphere: It is important that the temperature is comfortable and that the music and lighting are at suitable levels.

Are there any brands that you have altered your opinion on recently, either positively or negatively?

I tend to favour Waitrose over Tesco these days.  I like Waitrose as they don’t keep me waiting.  I think it is worth paying more for a good experience.

What can a store do to create customer loyalty?

A loyalty card is a good way to encourage me to return to a store.  Alternatively they could offer something like a discount or treat to redeem on my next visit.

Yes, so it is important that the staff remember to offer these to customers.

The staff can also suggest a reason for the customer to return.  Going back to the restaurant scenario, a customer may have difficulty in choosing between two desserts.  The server could jokingly say that they could order one today and then try the other one on their next visit.

At certain beauty counters I have been invited back to let them know how I have got on with a product or for a makeup lesson.  A simply phrase, such as, “We would love to see you,” can really encourage a customer to return.

Ideas on The Apprentice

handful of loyalty cards
Collecting loyalty card stamps

This week saw the start of Series 11 of The Apprentice. As predicted there are a few characters on the show. One such character is Richard Woods, a founding director of a digital marketing agency. In week two, he was project manager of a task which involved the marketing of a cactus shampoo. He was seen giving each team member the chance to pitch in with their own ideas. Baroness Karren Brady commented that she wondered if Richard had bought a book on management skills and read it cover to cover prior to coming on the show. It was quite funny because she said she wondered whether Richard was actually listening to them or just pushing what he wanted. Following on from this, I decided that I would discuss the ways in which managers can motivate their staff by giving them the autonomy to have their own ideas.

Three examples are shown below:
Loyalty card stamps: Joseph Nunes and Xavier Dreze conducted a study into the effort that customers put into achieving the reward from their loyalty cards. They conducted a study with a car wash business involving a total of 300 customers. The loyalty cards involved collecting stamps in order to get a free car wash. There were two groups in the study. One group was given a card that required 8 stamps in order to receive the reward. The second group was given a card that required 10 stamps in order to get the reward. However these cards had two stamps already completed. This is known as ‘artifical enhancement’. The second group were found to be 44% more likely to complete the cards. The completion time also decreased. This effect has been named the Endowed Progress Effect. You could allow your staff the discretion to provide one or two extra stamps when issuing customers with their loyalty cards.
Store environment: The coffee shop chain Harris and Hoole gives their staff input into what music is played in the store. This is a simple, yet effective, way to engage staff.
Treating customers: Pret A Manger rejects the loyalty card idea, in favour of giving out a certain allowance of free items to their customers each day. The staff members are given the freedom to choose which customers receive the free items.

What do you think of these ideas? It would be great to hear your thoughts!

Related articles: Employee Engagement

The Importance of Feeling Important

very important customer quote
This week I am returning to my experience in a cycle store, as published two weeks ago. You can review the post here: Learning something new
I realised that there was another very important factor as to why this experience was so good. Effectively, I had two employees assisting me at the same time. This left me feeling like a Very Important Customer (VIC). Here at the Experience Boutique we believe that customer service and employee engagement are intrinsically interlinked. Customers and employees alike want to feel important and valued. In the TV show ‘Undercover Boss’ my favourite part of the show is the final part. The employees realise how important and valued they are within the business.

Here are a few suggestions that can make your customers feel important:
• If an appointment has been arranged, make sure that your front of house staff know about it. This allows them to show the client that you were expecting them before they even have to state who they are.
• Make notes during the consultation to show that you are listening.
• Repeat the customer’s needs back to them to show that you were listening and understood what they wanted.
• Tell the customer why a particular item or service could solve their unique challenge.
• Invite them to return to the store for a particular reason that is unique to them.

References: Undercover Boss

Employee Engagement

quote about employee engagement
In last week’s post, I spoke about some highly motivated and engaged employees in a cycle store. Extensive research has been carried out which has closely linked employee engagement to customer experience. Dan Pink carried out some research into the key factors that motivate employees. He found that the three most important factors, apart from a fair monetary reward, were as follows:
Autonomy: Research shows that staff react better to being given guidelines, rather than strict rules that they need to follow. It is important to give staff some freedom to do the job the way they want to do it.
Mastery: People want to feel as though they are getting better at doing something that matters.
Purpose: It is natural for staff to want to make customers happy. It is important to publicise to staff what the business is working to achieve and why.

I will discuss some of these factors in greater depth in future posts. For now, I will refer back to my experience last week in the cycle store. I think we can see how some of these factors came into play. The staff member who wanted to learn from his colleague had enough autonomy to be honest about this without fear of being reprimanded. He was keen to master a new skill. The staff member saw an opportunity in learning more about the nutrition in their energy food to be able to make me and other customers happy in future = purpose. Furthermore research by the Temkin Group also showed that employees who feel as though they are contributing are 30% less likely to take more than one sick day. How do you implement these factors into your business? See you next week when we will be returning to the cycle store!