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Worried About Someone Else Scooping your Customers?

Back in September the retail business was preparing for the upcoming Christmas season. Steve owns and operates a regional clothing store chain with six locations and has built a dedicated client base over the years.

While Steve was evaluating the merits of strappy sandals and making decisions about what beach wear he was going to bring into the shop for the vacation crowd, media coverage shifted from talking about the fear of finding enough employees with an aging workforce to daily job loss totals and stock market declines.

Words from the advisers, suppliers and customers he contacted rang in the entrepreneur's head: This is the tip of the iceberg, and things are going to get much, much worse. Instead of brushing off those predictions, Steve moved swiftly to counter the coming storm. His action plan was simple.

Step One: Contact all of our clients and thank them for their business.
Thanks to good records, Steve was able to search a database of close to 12,000 customers from the past year and reach out to them by e-mail, regular mail and telephone calls. The goal was to remind them that they are appreciated, and invite them to a special event at one of the stores so give them the opportunity to beat the Christmas rush. Customers were given a gift certificate towards purchases of $200 or more at the event.

"Things just came crashing down. In my 16 years of business I have never seen anything like this. But we're a company that can turn on a dime, and after talking to people and figuring things were likely to get much worse, we just ripped things apart," he says.

Step Two: Map Your Customer Experience.
Take this tip literally: Write down all of the points of experience customers have with you. Then grade and prioritize them. Have your management group complete the Customer Service Perspective Questionnaire from HiringSmart. This exercise will generate  conversations about what the customer service levels should be and what a customer in your store should expect to experience. Click here for a complimentary copy of the questionnaire.

Step Three: Ask customers for feedback.
Which factors are most important, and how can you improve them? Which are the least so, and can you get rid of them entirely? For example, if customers say your automated phone system is annoying, either get a new system or consider replacing it with a live person.

Step Four: Take Inventory of Customer Service Team.
Have your Customer Service team complete the Customer Service Profile (CSP) as part of your Customer experience training program. The CSP™ identifies six behavioural characteristics and two proficiencies that are essential to extraordinary customer service. This is the information needed to coach and train your people to deliver your customer experience.

The Customer Service Profile™ measures the behavioural characteristics of Trust, Tact, Empathy, Conformity, Focus, and Flexibility as well as Vocabulary and Numerical Proficiencies. There are four customized versions for different sectors: Retail, Financial Services, Hospitality Services and Health Care.

Step Five: Communicate Strategy. 
Executing the strategy happens when everyone knows what the plan is, and how together you are measuring success. Don’t just communicate – over communicate.  Make the Customer Experience part of every conversation, reinforcing the training and the expectations.

Step Six: Celebrate the Success.
As the results begin to be realized, celebrate the success frequently. Some successful events acknowledged continually reinforces the program and leads to the larger goals and objectives.

For more information about the Customer Service Profile and how this tool can be part of your customer service experience e-mail

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