We all know the goal of any frontline training is to create a unique and magical customer experience. So, what do you focus on when you teach and train your employees on how to give customers a great experience?
Sometimes good customer service means something quick, cheap, and easy. Think picking up a quart of milk at a convenience store on the way home or using the Starbucks app to get your drink without waiting. Nothing wrong with that , but what I find with my small business coaching clients, who are looking to increase their sales, quick and easy is not the way to profitability.
If you just provide customer service you limit your ability to affect people’s emotions which makes them want to spend more and come more often. That’s why training your staff is an investment in your business.
What is a Magical Customer Experience?
A magical customer experience makes your customers feel like the most important person in the world. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, your frontline staff can create this feeling by going out of their way to make customers feel appreciated and happy to spend money in your business, return often and certainly tell others about their experiences too!
To consistently achieve this level, it has to be an established core purpose. Just like any organization, you have to know what your business stands for and what it doesn’t. For example Disney’s purpose it to “Make People Happy”. That message is a living and breathing message that is always out in front of all Disney’s customer experiences. But you can’t just post a mission statement on your website or put up compelling signage and call it a day with your frontline staff.
A small business looking to create magical experiences and lasting customer relationships has to live out that message on the sales floor every day. “You have to believe it, and demonstrate it.” That’s why your customer service training has to include more than just product knowledge and learning how to use the cash register.
Your frontline employees need to know how to create customer’s happiness, for those few minutes they are in your store or business, has to be the most important thing in the world.
What Your Customer Experience Training Should Look Like
First, let’s talk about the skills your customer service training needs to cover. These are the areas to build up in your team that will have the biggest impact on your business profitability.
When learned and practiced, these skills will feel like second nature to your staff. Developing them into best practices will not only increase sales on a first visit, but it will also build customer loyalty — and your store’s profitability — far into the future.
- Greeting Customers
Does your training program cover how to greet customers? If not, you are missing out on sales before your customers even look at anything else at your business.
For example, it’s not unusual to walk into a retail store and see employees chatting in a group, on their phones, or too busy with merchandise to look up and say hello. It happens every day, in all types of retail, restaurants, auto service repair shops to drug stores. This behavior makes customers more likely to leave than seek out a salesperson and ask for help.
On the flip side, we’ve all experienced that fake smile and “welcome to …” or “let me know if you need help” before you can even see the frontline person talking to you. This approach is lacking in both timing and sincerity. Approaching strangers doesn’t come naturally to many people but with training and practice, it will start to feel natural.
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- Listening and Empathizing
Selling products and services relies heavily on communication skills, which are sadly lacking in many small businesses or retail stores. It’s one thing to rattle off current discounts and suggest some popular items for a shopper. It’s a different thing entirely to have a conversation, listening to customers enough to learn key information that will help you personalize the interaction and create a relationship to close the sale.
Along with listening, your staff needs to understand what it means to empathize with customers. While engaging with a customer, they need to practice putting themselves in that customer’s shoes to truly understand their priorities, concerns, and desires. While empathy is an innate trait, we can enhance and practice the skill of noticing what customers are thinking and feeling.
- Engaging With Customers
Frontline service people, particularly in retail, are very familiar with the phrase: “No thanks, I’m just looking.” That happens because the associate wasn’t trained on how to avoid that answer to a question in the first place. Do not let rejection be an excuse to stop trying to help customers!
Instead, train your staff to put this type of shopper at ease in the store without being invasive or obnoxious. Your training program needs to cover how to engage with customers who are just looking, turning them into customers who are receptive, engaged, and likely to make a purchase.
Skills like getting the timing right, using merchandise as a prop, and perfecting your body language can be learned and practiced to achieve great results.
- Handling complaints
Does your training cover resolving customer complaints, beyond just calling the manager? Excellent customer service means the customer feels listened to, understood, and validated in their concerns. Make sure your training includes a process to handle complaints that’s easy to follow and leaves customers satisfied — or you will pay the price in negative reviews and complaints on social media.
- Understanding Features vs. Benefits
An often overlooked aspect of training is how to talk about your products or services. Of course, staff should learn key features of the products you sell, like materials, sizing, functionality or anything customers might need to know. But training people to be product encyclopedias won’t help your sales.
If all the customer needed was information, they would have purchased it online. But they go to your store because customers buy based on what your product or service will do for them — the benefits. The unique features of your product or service can offer unique benefits, and it’s up to your frontline staff to tie the two together based on a conversation.
Teach your employees the language of “features and benefits”. Help them understand and practice the concept in any training program you implement.
My best small business clients have moved away from thinking of customer interactions as a transaction and instead focus on making magical customer experiences and relationships. It’s time to implement the right training for your frontline staff to empower them to build — and consistently practice — these essential customer experience skills. It will help you and your team create a better customer experience. Now that would be Magical!
Need help with training your frontline staff? Contact John today! email@example.com or (704) 965-4090.