Author: Jackie Holbrook
Customer service keeps customers coming back, but it’s more than service with a smile. People crave authentic interactions and they’ll pay for them. A Gladly study found one-third of customers would pay 1% to 9% more for great customer service.
Consider these simple ways to step up your customer service.
Create a Culture
Customer service starts with leadership. Make it company culture. Be the example. “If you, as an owner or manager, are happy and cordial, it definitely trickles down to staff and customers,” said Andy Larsen, manager of Bwana Archery in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Put customers first, listen to their concerns, and make it personal. Address them by their name and say, “thank you.”
Put it on Paper
Gentle reminders are often all that’s needed in the moment. But on busy days or during frustrating encounters, it’s often helpful to have reminders that service matters. Post a note somewhere to remind yourself and your staff to always be friendly and courteous.
Make sure you're greeting every customer politely, no matter how swamped you are. Photo Credit: ATA
Service with a Smile
Great customer service begins with a smile. Your shop’s attitude should always be upbeat and helpful. Smile when customers walk through the door, and smile as you help, and keep smiling when you say goodbye. Smiles make customers feel valued and comfortable.
“We’re all guilty of getting a little burned out come August,” Larsen said. “A smile and a greeting make a world of difference. It puts customers in a good mood and opens up dialogue.”
Acknowledge Them at the Door
Don’t just smile. Acknowledge customers immediately. “I tell my staff as soon as a customer comes in, acknowledge them and say: “Hey, how are you? We’ll be right with you,” said Jim Gauthier, owner of Gauthier’s Archery in Traverse City, Michigan.
Even if you’re already helping a customer, the new arrival knows you value their time. “The customer will wait for you if you at least acknowledge them,” Gauthier said. “If you don’t pay any attention, they’ll walk out the door.”
First Impressions Matter
“Have a friendly, welcoming atmosphere,” said Kent Colgrove, owner of Full Draw Archery in Omaha, Nebraska. An appealing ambience is a clean and organized shop. “Vacuum floors and check the corners,” Larsen said.
Create a daily cleaning checklist that includes organizing your displays, wiping down counters, sweeping the range, and cleaning the bathroom.
Offer assistance if needed, but avoid lingering too long. Once the question has been answered, move on. Photo Credit: ATA
Be Helpful Without Hovering
Be helpful and available to answer questions, but don’t scare customers away by lingering too long. Some customers ask more questions than others. “Listen to what they say, but don’t give them too much of your own opinion,” Gauthier said.
If customers decline your help, stay within eyesight in case they need help or decide to ask a question.
Use Positive Language
Think about how you phrase responses when dealing with customers. Subtle language makes a big difference. For example, if a customer wants a product that’s not in stock say, “We’ll order that for you now and have it (by a specific date).” Stay focused on the positive.
Service Matters In Person and Online
Customer service doesn’t begin and end at your door. It extends online. Many first impressions begin on the web. Be helpful and engaging anywhere customers can reach you. “There is power in getting reviews and striving to get good reviews,” Colgrove said.
Use the same language, politeness and positive attitude on social media. Be friendly and helpful when customers initiate online conversations. To learn more, read the ATA article “Why (and How) You Should Respond to Customer Reviews.”
Isn’t it wonderful when customers leave glowing reviews? It’s easy and important to say thanks. It’s not as easy to respond to criticism. It can be tempting to hit the delete button, but bad reviews are part of being in the business. Good customer-service skills are especially important when dealing with negative reviews. Customers gauge their opinions of you on how you respond to negative reviews. Examine the review to see if it has merit, and respond professionally. Customers don’t expect a perfect record. Respect goes a long way. Acknowledge and respond to all comments.
Offer information pamphlets or other tangible reading material for the customer to take home. Photo Credit: ATA
Send Information Home
Send customer service home through helpful, educational pamphlets. This could be information about equipment or tips on fletching. Include your shop’s contact information for follow-up questions.
Customer service is the key to keeping customers and boosting profits. Just a few simple changes can increase professionalism and customer satisfaction.