The holidays can be busy, stressful, and exhausting. These simple tips and suggestions can help create a more smooth and calm December for small business owners by streamlining expectations, product knowledge, and customer service. How can you create a positive holiday shopping experience for your customers? Easy!
- Being Social: Your social media should be engaging, relevant, relate to your customer and sell when appropriate. You want to humanize your social media content more than you want to monetize it. Your social media platforms are not just display ads, but a face-to-face conversation with your customers.
- Building Your Database: Use email marketing besides social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Keep your brand in front of your customers at all times.
- Expect Prepared Salespeople: Have all salespeople read company ads, catalogs, literature, Facebook, Twitter and Blogs before customers come in with questions and inquiries. An uninformed salesperson is bad for business. Also check out everything about the competition including the services offered.
- Establishing and Enforcing Dress Codes: Set expectations for employees and enforce them. If there is a uniform, it should be clean, neat, etc. Employees are the representatives of the business and should project the image the business wants to convey.
- Greeting Everyone Who Walks Through the Door: Coming up with different greetings -- so customers don't hear the same greeting over and over when shopping in the store. Make it personal and inviting.
- Making it Comfortable for Customers to Shop: Adjusting the thermostat because customers may be wearing coats and the staff can wear a sweater. Perhaps a rack for customer's coats and a place to check their packages. Offering the customer a basket or shopping tote makes it easy for them to buy more.
- Having Employees Identify Themselves When Answering the Phone: This adds a professional touch and provides the caller with a person to identify with on the other end of the line.
- Cleaning Up the Cash-wrap Area as-you-go: Expect that employees are cleaning up and putting everything in its place throughout the day. Customers are concerned about transaction accuracy and your services (i.e. shipping) if this area is a mess with clutter, drinks, and food.
- Listening. Really Listening to Customers: If you don't really listen and show customers the wrong merchandise -- they will assume you don't have what they are looking for and leave.
- Having All Cash Registers Open When the Store is Busy: An extra staff member can mingle with the customers in line -- making additional suggestions.
- Getting everyone on board: Ensuring that everyone in the organization understands what the winning advantage is and what their role is in supporting it.
- Knowing what other merchandise and services are offered around town: Keep customers shopping in your community by knowing what all is available. The customers will be thrilled, always come to you first and will let the other businesses know you sent them.
- Stocking and Cleaning Only When the Store is Closed: Doing these chores when the store is open is inconsiderate to shoppers and doesn't convey a professional image. Instead, have the staff mingle with the customers and help with suggestions.
Deciding to adopt these small changes will help you build a more successful business environment. Making change is always easier said than done, and sometimes we have
old habits that inhibit our ability to follow-through with change. We challenge you to let go of these common, but not-so-helpful habits:
Trying to get a Head Start on Store Closing Times: Vacuuming while the store is still open is rude and should be done after the business closes.
Helping Phone Inquiries While In-Store Customers Wait for Help: The customer in the store should take precedence. Have someone besides the cashier answer the phone.
Running Out of Advertised Specials Early on the First Day of the Promotion: A product or sale item should not be advertised unless there is sufficient stock.
Using the Store Phone or Cell for Personal Calls on the Selling Floor: Have employees step away from customers to take any personal calls instead.
Thanks to Barbara Wold of Barbara Wold International for these tips. She has years of experience in the customer experience, customer-relationship management, marketing strategy, human resources, consumer buying patterns, image, sales and service quality, public relations, redevelopment, and tourism industries. She is an excellent resource and we thank her for sharing her knowledge with us!