In order to get the best customer service in any situation, you have to be the best customer. Having worked in retail for over fifteen years, I'm pretty sure I have seen every kind of customer, from the over-familiar to the down right loopy. My experience has made me appreciate the experience of being a customer and I always try my best to be a good customer when I'm shopping whether on-line or in stores. By being a good customer I find that I often receive good to excellent customer service, of course there are times when even a stellar attitude will not win the day and the service you receive will be poor. However if you follow these 10 simple steps this holiday season I guarantee that you will have the best shopping experience.
1. Be Friendly
It may seem obvious but, say hello, with a smile on your face. If you need help, ask, don't expect the sales assistants to know you need help just because you are walking around looking bewildered. If you ask politely most people will willingly point you in the right direction. Be prepared to be chatty, if the sales assistant asks if they can help - engage with them, tell the what you are looking for, let them do their job and assist you. You don't have to buy what they offer, but use their stock knowledge. It is amazing what people will tell you about if you are friendly.
2. Be Polite
Say Please and Thank you with eye contact if possible, it can make so much difference. Don't believe me, give it a try.
3. Be Positive
If you need to ask for something in particular, where to find something, or if they stock a product ask in a positive manner. One of the worst things people can say to me at Sew Crafty is 'You don't do.... do you?' This may seem like a reasonable question but it is a really negative way of asking. 'Hi, Do you have...' is so much nicer and doesn't instantly put a negative spin on your inquiry. If in fact they don't have what you are looking for, don't make it the fault of the sales assistant. Ask their advice of where it may be available, they may have been asked before and be able to send you to the perfect place.
4. Be Interested
If a sales assistant is giving you information about a product, listen. They may give you information that means you need to make an additional purchase in order for the product to work properly or some advice on getting the best out of your purchase. You don't have to take their advice, but at least give them the respect of hearing what they have to say.
5. Be Patient
Queuing and waiting to be served is inevitable at this time of year, try and be patient. I find queuing a really good time to catch up with Instagram, checking what's next on my list, or reviewing what I am buying to make sure I really want it.
6. Be Informed
If you are going to buy something that needs to be a certain size, measure before you go out to buy it. Again this may seem obvious, but it is still surprising to me how many people come in to buy fabric without measuring their window/bed/table/caravan, then expecting us to be able to tell them how much they will need. It is hard to give good service when you are at a loss to know the details that are essential to being able to help. Most places will be more than happy to help you to work out how much you will need to buy if you have good measurements.
7. Be Respectful
If you walk into a boutique and think their prices are expensive be respectful and keep those thoughts to yourself, you are never going to get good service if the sales people think that you don't value their product.
8. Be Reasonable
Do not expect to get brilliant service, or frankly any service when you are chatting to your mate/mother/mechanic on your mobile phone whilst paying for something at a till. Give the exchange the time it deserves and hang up and call your friend back, or wait until you have finished your call to go up to the till. If you get a call whist you are at the till, ignore the call, turn off the ringer by all means, but don't answer it and start a conversation, it is just bad manners! There is nothing so urgent that it can't wait until you have finished at the counter.
9. Be Calm
Try not to be in a fluster, or rushing into /out of a shop - car illegally parked on double yellows, your eagerness to leave will not endear you to anyone, especially not sales assistants.
10. Be Grateful
Make a point to say Thank You to the person who has served you. If someone has gone above and beyond, try and get their name and drop a line via email to their head office, telling them what a good job that person has done. We are all eager to take the time to complain when things are not up to standard, why not do the same if you get really good service.
All in all I cannot promise you that doing these things will always get you amazing customer service, an upgrade or a discount, but I can promise that it will make YOUR shopping experience so much better. There will always be surly, tired, underpaid sales assistants who want nothing more than to be anywhere else but at work, but by being all of the things above it will be much harder for them not to be friendly and polite in return. The same rules apply if you are a sales assistant. If you have a rude customer, be the most polite, friendly, happy version of yourself. It is very hard to be mean or rude to nice, happy people. I am the kind of person who tries to put myself in the position of the other person and was always taught to treat people as we would like to be treated. Never is this so true as in the situation of sales assistant and customer.
I hope that you can use this advice to make your Christmas present buying a pleasant experience.
All images courtesy of http://www.someecards.com/