Are you a closer?
Guest Post by LaTosha Johnson
Follow LaTosha on Twitter: @TargetStars
I am a savvy shopper who has gone to a couple stores (department, electronic, etc.) over the past few weeks with the intention of buying a particular item only to walk out with a completely different one. The store employees that I refer to as “closers” caused me to deviate from my shopping list by providing excellent customer service.
A closer is someone who is able to assess the problem and do what it takes to resolve the situation. These employees could have easily allowed me to wander aimlessly searching throughout the store trying to locate the products I needed, but instead they chose to be a closer. Here are three skills every closer must master offline and online:
- Greet: This might seem like a pretty obvious one, but I believe stores are missing out on sales because they fail to speak to their customers. In every instance where I bought an item that I hadn’t intended on purchasing I was greeted by someone from that store. In order to provide great customer service, you have to acknowledge customers. I do not know about you, but I get frustrated when I cannot find what I am looking for and there isn’t a single person around to help me. Depending upon how much energy your customer has, they might “tough it out” until they find what they seek, but more often times they will choose to give up and go some place else.
- If you fail to greet your customers online, by making sure the aesthetics of the website are inviting, the website is easy to navigate, etc. they will not even bother to “tough it out” they will just go to another website. Therefore, it is imperative that you provide top notch customer service online by making it easy for your customers to find you in case they have questions. This can easily be resolved by making sure that there is a Contact Us page or link somewhere on the website. If I cannot find what I am looking for and cannot find a location to seek assistance is the equivalent of asking me to leave. A company with a great online presence will never put themselves in this situation.
- Guide: In order to provide guidance to your customers, you must be willing to do some investigating. Asking, “Did you need help finding anything?” is a great start, but do not end the conversation there. The customer will respond oftentimes with a short response such as, “I am looking for external hard drives.” Take it a step further and ask them what type of information they are going to store on the hard drive, if they have a particular brand in mind, etc. the more information you have, the better you can assist your customers. Sometimes, your customers may think they know exactly what they need, but with a little prodding you may save them some trouble in the long run by suggesting a better product or service.
Providing guidance to your customers online can be a bit tricky. You want to provide as much information as you can about the variety of products and services that you offer, but you also must be careful not to overwhelm them. One website that I feel does a great job guiding their customers to the product(s) they seek is Zappos. Zappos is an online retailer that provides products varying from shoes to houseware and is known for providing stellar customer service. The site helps customers find the products they seek by enabling them to “drill down” to them via the alphabetical brand index, departments, categories, etc. Being able to “drill down” to the customer’s specifications increases their ability to find the product they seek in a minimal amount of time. Allowing your customers various ways to find what they need provides for a pleasant shopping experience for all.
Go: Once you have identified your customer’s needs and they have the product in hand, help them get through the next hurdle—checking out so they can leave the store. I cannot tell you how many times I have received great customer service from the employees working in their respective departments only to have the experience tainted because only one person is working at the register and there are 15 people waiting in line.
If you own a store, empower your employees with the ability to hop on a register when they see it is busy without having to go through layers of management to do so. Your customers are busy and anything you can do to speed up the process of checking out is appreciated and will increase the likelihood of them returning to your store. Simplify the process of checking out online by making sure your customers are able to easily add their products to the shopping cart and allow them a variety of forms to pay for their purchases.
Being a closer online or offline is not difficult, it just requires more time; however, the effort will be well worth it once you close the deal.
Bio: LaTosha Johnson is President of TargetStars, Inc., a consulting firm dedicated to providing top notch marketing and virtual administrative services to small companies and solopreneurs at an affordable price.