Retail Rules of Engagement: Essential Customer Service Tips

Megan Swartz

The five fundamentals of great customer service at Deja Vu include the following:

  • Acknowledge
  • Identify
  • Educate
  • Personalize
  • Close

Wow your guests and increase your sales dramatically with these effective tips.

In order for your staff to properly educate a customer they must first be properly trained and have basic knowledge of all items you offer.

Tip 1: Acknowledgement

When guests step in the door they should be greeted within the first few seconds upon entering. This is done by your cashiers and/or your sales floor staff. Introduction should be sincere and energetic, always accompanied by a smile. A smile is the most important part of your uniform. A welcome should include the name of your business. For example: Hello! Welcome to Deja Vu’s Adult Emporium. How are you today? Remember, specialty shoppers can sometimes be hesitant or apprehensive about sales and questions due to the nature of the product we offer. It is our job, as great customer service representatives, to recognize this and use the first impression as the most vital one of all to establish trust. Acknowledgement is the most important step because it not only helps your sales but is a great loss prevention tool. When guests know staff is aware of who is in the store it helps deter theft.

Tip 2: Identify

After proper acknowledgement it is now time to identify the customer’s needs. You must listen with intent to not miss what the customer’s desires truly are. Your staff must be able to tactfully ask the proper questions to obtain the info they need to complete the sale. Maturity is key to not offend any guests and their desires/fetishes. It is important to try not to jump into a sale without fully understanding your customer’s needs.

Tip 3: Educate

In order for your staff to properly educate a customer they must first be properly trained and have basic knowledge of all items you offer. It is a great idea to utilize all tools offered by manufacturers such as training seminars, promotional items, samples, testers and catalogs. A great way to ensure a support system from your vendors is to purchase larger orders from distribution companies rather than buying small amounts of product from several manufacturers. This helps your business create buying power. Distribution companies will help schedule seminars and ensure your business is receiving product samples and testers as marketing tools on a regular basis. When your company has all these tools it is a great foundation for training your staff. Having a staff that is knowledgeable about the items you sell, including their benefits and dangers, will increase customer rapport and create a regular customer clientele. Remember, your specialty customers want to feel comfortable. What better way to accomplish this than to ensure your patrons are happy with their purchases not only today, but years after they have invested in your products. You cannot properly educate a guest until you have first educated your staff, then maybe they will be able to help identify the customer’s needs.

Tip 4: Personalize

Personalizing a sale can be a difficult task. You must be able to use all steps simultaneously to create a personal experience. Anyone can be well-versed on a product; that does not make it the best product for every customer. Being able to elevate the personal experience can help put a customer’s mind at ease. Sometimes sharing your experience and fears can help a customer truly open up. In this business personal testimony is very important, and it is generally what customers rely on. This is why having testers and samples for your staff is vital; after all, they work the front lines of your business. If you have properly completed steps one to four, you should be on a first name basis with your guests. Using a customer’s name is a great way to gain trust and help secure repeat clientele. This will also help your staff to develop a personal relationship with the shopper who hopefully will ask for staff by name when returning to the store. Staff sales incentives are a great asset to both your business and your staff. This personal experience offered will open the door for high-ticket sales. The customer now trusts you and your judgment and will be more susceptible to purchase a higher commitment item.

Tip 5: Closing

At this point you should have established exactly what the customer needs. You should be discussing options on product from price to needs. Once you have established what items you are selling, walk your guests to the cashiers and personally hand them off. Thank them for their time and for choosing your establishment. Be grateful and sincere. Let them know how excited you are to have them again and not to hesitate to come in with questions or concerns. When cashing out the customer it is important to let them know the proper care instructions for the items they have purchased and possibly sell any add-ons or impulse buys. Being aware of the company’s return policies is a must. This will help about any future issues that can be caused by miscommunication. As a manager, it is your job to keep your team aware and trained. Keep them informed on sales, promotions, new items and events to ensure great customer communication. Follow these steps and I promise your guests will leave saying “Wow! Now that’s what I call customer service!”

With more than 10 years working with Déjà Vu’s various branches, Megan Swartz — Déjà Vu’s general manager and buyer — has made a name for herself as a dedicated and savvy, merchandising and operations-managing dynamo.


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