By Jasmine Glasheen
Setting foot in a retail store is a holistic experience. Every part of your in-store experience needs to fit and flow together seamlessly––from the first “hello” when they walk into your store, to your eye-catching displays and easy-to-read signage. Creating a great retail experience takes a lot of moving parts, but you still need to provide a quick and simple check-out process to get customers to convert.
Walker predicts that by 2020, ‘customer experience’ will overtake ‘price and product’ as the key brand differentiator. This means customers are willing to spend more in exchange for a positive shopping experience; conversely, a bad experience can cost you future business. 66 percent of customers say they’ve switched brands due to bad service and the checkout experience is your customers’ final (and most lasting) impression of your store.
No business can afford to shirk on checkout duties in an age where shoppers have thousands of retail options at the touch of their fingertips. So, let’s take a look at three ways to make sure you are providing the best customer service possible on the final leg of your customers’ journey.
Get skilled in the basics
You hired your sales staff based on personality and potential… now it’s time to make sure they know the ins-and-outs of your store’s payment processing systems. Your POS system can streamline the payment process, so make sure to provide your workers with the proper training to keep your POS system running smoothly and your checkout line moving swiftly.
Role-playing is another effective way to prepare your employees for real-life scenarios they will encounter on the sales floor. Pair new workers with more seasoned employees to teach standard processes such as purchases, returns, and exchanges. This can take some of the stress of training off of management, and help develop a good working relationship between your employees.
Expect the unexpected
In the high-paced world of retail, not everything is going to go by the book. Once a cashier has mastered standard payment procedures, they should still prepare for those less frequent customer issues. These can include processing less popular forms of payment, answering tough product questions, and dealing with difficult customers in a calm and professional manner.
Customers expect issues to be resolved quickly. While solid training programs are a retail managers greatest resource, employee training shouldn’t be limited to a few days a year. Keep laminated “In Case Of” training guides, as well as detailed product information at your cash wrap for cashiers to review during slow times. And keep a designated manager in close range to help resolve trickier check-out issues to keep potentially uncomfortable situations from escalating.
Give customers a reason to come back
You’ve made the sale – great! That’s half the battle. But the trickiest and possibly most crucial part remains: making your one-time customer a repeat customer that’s continually engaging with your brand. That’s where clienteling comes in. It’s crucial for sales staff to take advantage of your store’s POS customer management software. Sharing the perks of your store’s loyalty program and getting shoppers signed up is a great incentive for shoppers to make a future visit. Be sure to collect new customer emails to include in online marketing efforts, and let them know that deals and VIP exclusives will be sent straight to their inbox in return.
Asking for customer feedback is another great way to show you’re invested in providing a better experience for future visits. A simple “did you find everything you were looking for today?” can help resolve an unsatisfied shopper’s needs and increase their odds of walking out the door happy. A cashier has truly done his or job to the fullest when they’ve given customers a reason to return, and informing them of customer loyalty incentives while making sure their needs are met is a great way to make it happen.
Bringing it all together
Shoppers are growing increasingly used to the fast, faceless experience of online shopping. From groceries to ball gowns, consumers can quite literally get any item they want dropped right on their doorstep. A friendly smile and a personal touch can ensure your brick-and-mortar experience is competitive with the ease and convenience of online shopping.
Learning the ins-and-outs of your store’s payment processing systems and preparing for common customer service scenarios will empower your staff to confidently help customers and provide busy shoppers with the prompt service they demand. Keeping a designated manager on-hand (or accessible) will ensure difficult issues get resolved quickly, and engaging in role-play scenarios will challenge them to solve different customer service hiccups without the threat of real-world repercussions. And a strong loyalty program is your insurance that your best one-time customers will keep coming back.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.