“I Want My Staffs To Smile To The Customers”

Recently I met with one business owner in the island, who thinks that the quality of service in his business can be improved. When I asked him about the specific area he wants to be focused on, his reply was, “I want my staffs to smile to the customers.”

I found his request quite interesting and I try to outline the basis from a business perspective

  • In my capacity as a trainer, I’m not here to make miracles happen. However, making your staffs smile to the customers is something that is not impossible to achieve. To make your staffs smile genuinely, from the heart and not forced smile, it has to begin from the company culture. It requires a very strong commitment and cooperation from the top management, business owner, CEO, director or whoever making the top-level business decision to create a business culture that is customer-focused. A culture that focuses on quality of service must begin internally and channeled through externally, from the very top to the very bottom level of the company.
  • In day-to-day operations, the quality of service provided by your employees to customers is directly related to the way you treat your employees. I strongly believe in this: “Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers.” The environment and business culture the company creates will have a strong influence in the way your employees act and perform their job.

So if you want your staffs to smile to the customers, you can start to look closely inside the company’s culture and find out if you have already implemented these points below:

  1. Quality customer service that have already become part of company identity, externally as well as internally.
  2. Staff recruitment based on talent not because of need to fill in positions, ie. anyone will do.
  3. Customer service training and job skills training to support their work.
  4. Regular staff appraisal program to evaluate staff performance.
  5. Staff reward and incentive programs that are fair and open to recognize staff hard work and contribution to the business.
  6. Employee benefits that are fair such as health insurance, work accident insurance etc.

These are the basic factors which will help create a happy and content working culture. If you have already implemented all of the above, I guarantee that you are on the right track which will result to your staffs “smile naturally to your customers”.

”How May I Assist You?”

“How may I assist you?” is really used by sales assistant to avoid having to assist customer.

I was surprised to come across the above statement on a sales training handout. It left me bothered.

In my experience working in a 5 star hotel group, we were taught to always offer assistance to customers by saying “How may I assist you?”. Up until now I still and always believe that the statement is magical and a very useful tool to get first attention from customer. Furthermore, this sentence is by far one of the most polite thing to say by a shop assistant.

This seemingly controversial statement got me start thinking. I tried to understand the writer’s point of view. I did research on the field (in this case a retail shop that I currently work with) hoping to proof the writer wrong.

However, the research proved the writer was not totally wrong. Follow the steps to ”How may I assist you?”:

  • In every interaction between a customer and a shop person, it requires a perfect opening. This is critical to ensure customers feel welcomed and comfortable being in the shop. ”Good afternoon, welcome to ABC shop” would be considered an appropriate opening then leave the customer with some space and time to browse. DO NOT follow the customer around.
  • The next step is to watch the customer’s body language to choose a most appropriate approach.

There are 2 types of customers:

1. Window shopper

In this case they come to the shop with no intention to buy, regardless there is always an opportunity to sell.

Common habit: they like to browse to see what the shop has to offer.

Approach: in this case the shop assistant stays in the background and leave them to browse but continues to watch their body language. Gauge the timing to approach, do not leave them alone too long.

  • When the customer selects an item from the racks, approach them with ”How may I assist you?”. This is the perfect time to offer assistance
  • When the customer hovers around in one place, say the board shorts section, then you approach him/her with “Can I show you the new collections of board shorts?”.

2. Pre-decided shopper

Here the customer has already decided to buy an item eg. board short, say, but they don’t know the different styles and brands of board short that are available.

  • Common habit: the customer will say it straight away ”I’m looking for a pair of board shorts”. Approach: In this case the shop assistant may respond as follow ”Certainly, let me show you our collection”, lead the customer to the board short section and show the range. Then follow the customer cue. If the customer asks questions about the different styles and sizes then respond accordingly and politely.
  • However if reading the body language as wanting to browse first, then you leave them to browse but stay in the background and still be alert. DO NOT shadow the customer. You may say something like ”Feel free to browse and let me know if you need assistance” politely.

So, when you see a customer walks in, are you going to say ”How may I assist you?” automatically?

Listen To Our Customers

We are in business to serve our customers, and we can only do that if we know what our customers want. When we genuinely listen to our customers, they will let us know what they want and how we can provide best service.

Prepare Your Staff for an Effective Customer Care

Your employees are the most important aspect towards the success of your customer service program. In many cases your front line employees are the only point of contact with the customer and customer primary communication source. To them, they are not only representing the company, THEY ARE THE COMPANY. Here are the steps to prepare them to be best in serving your customer.

Hire the right people

It is critical that the company select employees based on their talent and their overall attitude towards serving people. There are many companies these days, provide an on line assessment test. It is a waste of time to hire people with low score on service orientation because they will not be a successful customer service provider.

Provide them with trainings

It is equally important to train them on the job skills as well as customer service. Customer service training will only go so far unless your employees understand their job duties. This will make it easier and more logical for your employees to incorporate the customer service techniques into their daily duties.

Communicate clearly on their mistakes

Setting up an “employee communication process” will help you control the implementation of customer service standards. There needs to be a system to handle employee’s mistakes that happen on the floor – how to address the mistakes, how to ensure the employee understand the mistakes made and the consequences that may incur and how that effects the business. The company needs to create a fair and educating “communication process” to stress that mistakes are to be learned so it will not recur.

Recognize their achievement

Avoid a quick promotion or monetary award for their service excellence, instead celebrate and announce their achievement, make them as the role models for other employees. This will create long-lasting sense of achievement not just an immediate short-term gain which does not guarantee their sense of belongings and the reasons they are there – “to serve the customers”.

Appraisal and promotions

Your employees have the right to know your observation on their progress. This will help them improve their performance and personal development. Be consistent in doing this. It requires a commitment from the company to conduct regular assessment e.g. half yearly, yearly etc.

Who benefits from Customer Service Training?

Good news, Customer Service Training benefits everyone!

The training will improve customer service standards in the business. As a result of this, customer satisfaction will be achieved. Customers will feel that they have been treated as an individual and in a professional manner. The most important thing is that the customer will feel that the company-through their employees, appreciate their business and this will drive them to return again and again, hence customer loyalty is achieved.

This training will effectively improve employees’ confidence in handling customers. Employees will feel more responsible in doing their job hence committed to serving the customers professionally as they now understand that customers are the reason they have a job. Employees will care more about their job and the company.

The company:
The company will find that employees’ morale is significantly increased. The employees will co-operate and show strong teamwork and commitment to achieve the common goal – to satisfy the customers. Customer satisfaction leads to increase in customer loyalty which lead to increase in profit.