Small businesses account for over 97% of all businesses in the United States. Yet, consumers seem to flock to the big box stores for convenience and low prices. Small retail businesses often struggle to attract customers who want cheap, one-stop shopping. The most effective way to keep a customer who walks into an independent retailer is good customer service. These three easy steps will help you and your employees improve your customers’ experiences and stand out from your larger competitors.
. Know the Products
The most important component of good customer service at an independent store is knowledge of the products. Shoppers may start at a big box store and be overwhelmed with choices or frustrated with the search. If a customer comes to our store with questions about specific products or a general request for recommendations, it is crucial to provide answers. For example, an independent wine store employee should be able to clearly explain the flavor profiles of the different varieties of wine, make recommendations within tiered prices and have at least a few favorites to talk about with customers. Knowledge and personalized recommendations will engage shoppers and create a sense of personal connection and loyalty that will outweigh the price and convenience of a larger store that just happens to also sell wine.
Greet Each Customer
There is a reason big box stores pay employees to greet customers, hand out coupons or direct people to products. They hire these extra workers because an initial personal connection makes a difference, as customers who are greeted and feel welcome are more likely to spend money in your store. First impressions happen in just a few seconds, and as a retailer, you never get a do-over when customers come through the door. Make sure you and your employees greet each person that walks through the door with a few words, a smile, and a welcoming tone. You’ll see sales climb when your customers feel welcome.
. Learn Names
Small retail stores often rely on repeat customers from the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to greeting each customer who comes in, it’s also a great idea to learn the names of regular customers. Greet customers by name and ask them general questions about the day, plans for the weekend, thoughts about the weather or similar topics. If a customer is recognized and greeted by name, he is more likely to develop a sense of loyalty to your store. He is also more likely to tell others about your business.
Independent retail stores can compete with big box stores, but they must provide a unique experience to retain shoppers. Customer service is the key to success for small businesses. Making just a few small changes can have a huge impact on the essential point.