Customer Service Can Save Retail

Last week, I gave you an example of how customer service is killing retail. Today, I thought I’d give you an example of the exact opposite. How good customer service can actually save retail.

In our last episode, I told you about part of my recent, retail shopping experience, and how it could really discourage someone, particularly someone like myself who is not a big shopper to begin with, from ever wanting to go back.

But in the interest of fairness, I’d like to point out how the opposite is also true.

My shopping excursion started because my wife’s iPhone was acting like it was possessed. She’d be sending a text, and all of a sudden, it would just start typing a combination of gibberish and actual words, all by itself.

It was creepy.

A quick online search told me this was a known issue, and that Apple would provide a fix for it, if you brought it into an Apple store, or if you called customer service and then sent the phone in. In the interest of time, I opted for the store.

So while my wife and daughter went shopping for dresses for various weddings they’d be attending, I ventured into the Apple store in search of a fix for my wife’s possessed iPhone.

The first thing I noticed when I went in, was that unlike many of the other stores and kiosks in the mall that I passed along the way, (which ranged from abandoned ghost town to sparsely trafficked,) this store was packed.

I thought, “Oh boy, this is going to take a while.”

But a greeter immediately approached me, asked how he could help, and I explained my issue. He typed my name and information into an iPad and told me someone would be available in about ten minutes — much better than I was expecting, given the number of people in the store.

About eight minutes later, I got a text asking me to proceed to the Genius Bar. OK, at last a store that recognizes my inherent genius! This is the kind of place I could get used to!

At the Genius Bar, I was greeted by Alec, who asked about the problem I was having with the iPhone. I lucked out. It was still in full possession mode, spitting out letters and numbers the same way Linda Blair spit out pea soup in The Exorcist movie.

Alec made a few notes on his iPad, ran a diagnostic on our phone, told me the repair was covered, printed out a sticker, and asked me to come back at 2 pm to pick it up. It was 1 o’clock.

Okay. This could work.

So I found a place to sit down, checked my emails, scoped out an Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop. Got a soft pretzel and some lemonade. Texted my daughter to see how her dress shopping was going, and wandered back into the Apple store around 2 pm. I gave the greeter my name, he told me which table to go to and within a few minutes, a member of the Genius Bar approached me with our fully repaired iPhone. I signed my name, digitally, on his iPad and I was on my way.

Now this may sound like a completely unremarkable experience to you. I brought in my product for service. They serviced it and sent me on my way. But given the truly pathetic state of customer service in many businesses and industries these days, it represented much more than that to me. It demonstrated that companies, and retail in particular, CAN get it right. And that much of success is simply about doing what you say you’re going to do.

So here are a few takeaways that any business can apply from this experience:

  1. Be attentive to your prospects and customers. By having a greeter approach me as I entered the store and take my information, I felt like they were paying attention. Not in an annoying way, but in a helpful way.
  2. Staff accordingly. I’ve been to other high-end stores that have greeters, but they also have much longer wait times. When you staff accordingly, it tells clients that you actually value their time.
  3. Tell people what to expect next. I was told there would be a ten minute wait. Not fifteen. Not thirty. Ten. They set a reasonable expectation for me, right up front.
  4. Honor the expectation. Do what you said you were going to do. Ten minutes later, I was talking to the guy, as promised. He then set the next expectation. He told me to come back in a hour to pick up my phone. They honored that one, too. An hour later, I was back for the phone and they had it ready.

Excellent customer service is not rocket science. Much of it boils down to just doing what you say you’re going to do.

Most prospects are reasonable people. We’re just looking for others to treat us reasonably.

A lot of retail is hurting, because they don’t follow the simple guidelines I’ve outlined in this episode and in the previous episode — doing the right things well and avoiding activities that can harm the reputation of your business and your brand.

When you do things right, you can literally program clients to choose you… or to avoid you, the next time they’re in need of the products and services you offer. In this week’s episode, I explained how a store did things right, making me want to do business with them again. In last week’s episode, I explained how a store did things wrong, essentially programming me to never want to return there.

In you’d like to learn how to program your very best prospects to choose you, over every other option available to them, then check out my web presentation Programming Clients to Choose You, and schedule a complimentary strategy session where we can talk about your plan for attracting and converting your ideal clients. Just go to topsecrets.com/choose.

If you’re tired of flat or declining sales and losing business to your competitors, be sure to check out my latest web presentation entitled Programming Clients to Choose You. Who are your very best prospects currently programmed to buy from? Is it you? Or someone else? If you want it to be you, visit topsecrets.com/choose and register for the free presentation now. That’s topsecrets.com/choose.

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