With customer satisfaction falling in retail, it can be tempting to make sweeping changes in your stores. However, consistent minor improvements can have as big an impact as substantial changes.
In this article, you’ll learn 15 ways to improve customer satisfaction. None of them will revolutionize your stores. However, all of them are proven methods to help you please consumers and turn them into raving fans.
1. Justify the sale with social proof
Recent research shows that shoppers buy 100% of the time due to emotional reasons, not rational. After they have bought, they want to justify their purchase with logic. They need to convince themselves and the important people in their lives that they’ve made a smart choice.
Often testimonials get used in the sales process. To take this to the next level and improve customer satisfaction, provide a printed sheet of testimonials or other social proof.
Shoppers can then use this information to justify their decisions.
2. Give shoppers a gift, and then surprise them with another one
When you give shoppers a gift, you activate their reciprocity reflex. This reflex was described in Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It is triggered when you give people something for free, and causes them to feel obligated to do something in return.
Giving gifts is a long-established way to boost sales. However, an experiment in restaurants has shown a way to get even better results. For example: give shoppers a gift, Then, return a few minutes later with a second one. Waiters who gave diners a mint and then returned unannounced and gave a second mint saw a 23% increase in tips.
3. Take notes
There’s a valuable lesson in the self-help classic How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Everybody is the hero of his or her story. In other words, everybody wants to feel important.
For example: your staff can make shoppers feel like they matter by valuing what they have to say. Staff show they think customers are important by paying attention and taking notes when shoppers are speaking.
4. Train staff to handle disgruntled customers
The key to handling upset customers comes from that same Dale Carnegie rule about people. People want to feel important.
Sometimes employees handling the initial complaint can make the customer feel valued and solve the problem. At other times, the only way your staff can do this is to escalate the issue to a senior employee.
When they do this, they should take care not to offend the customer further.
It’s not in human nature to be empathic towards someone when they attack us. That’s why you have to train staff to solve the problem for the customer even when under fire.
5. Have staff treat the customers as if they are the “boss”
When employees see themselves as working for you, they might not feel that they owe you something other than the work they are paid to perform. Teach employees a new mindset: they are president of their company, a professional services firm. They work for themselves. You are simply their first, best client.
In that scenario, customers will benefit from excellent service and your employee will push to increase their quota. The employee’s success in his company gets tied to the ability to improve your customer’s satisfaction.
6. Celebrate customer birthdays
Does remembering customer’s birthdays make a difference? A survey shows that this simple act leads to an 88% increase in brand loyalty.
You have three ways to acknowledge birthdays. Send them a birthday card signed by you and your team. Send them a gift to collect from your store. Alternatively, send them a birthday offer.
Test which method gets the greatest results and use it.
7. Customization satisfies customers more than standardization
Customers seek out customized experiences as the world becomes more homogenous.
On one hand, you want the experience customers have in your stores to be consistent. After all, you create your brand through these experiences.
However, you want to come up with ways to customize the customer experience. Target did just that recently, they deployed a beacon technology at their stores to engage customers personally while they browse the aisles.
8. Create a customer satisfaction survey
The reason you want to create a customer satisfaction survey is that it gives you a benchmark. It says, “This is where we are now.” Before you can get to where you want to be, you need to know your starting point.
Surveys allow you to track your progress, identify problems and create a frictionless customer experience.
9. Teach employees to be more service oriented
Have you ever gone into a store and asked one of the staff to help only to have them tell you it is not their job?
Don’t make the same mistake in your stores. Train employees that everyone is in customer service. If they cannot solve the customer’s problem, they must walk the customer to the person who can.
10. Delight indirect purchasers
In many cases, buying decisions are influenced indirectly. When shoppers are in the toy aisle, the person who chooses what to buy is the child.
Are you engaging and delighting this sort of indirect buyer?
11. Set up self-service checkouts
Few things are more frustrating for shoppers than long lines. In many stores, several checkouts are often not even open.
Why not turn your manned checkouts into self-serve checkouts? Have a staff member available to help people when they purchase and let customers immerse themselves in a ‘wait free’ experience.
12. Entertain shoppers during long waiting times
If your shoppers have to stand in line for a long time, why not engage them? Business is all about building relationships, not blasting people with marketing messages. Why not hire a magician, a comedian, or even a musician to provide some entertainment during this time? Just keep it consistent with your brand and entertaining for your customers.
Remember that emotions are responsible for purchasing decisions, a good experience while waiting can lift customer spirits and improve their overall experience.
13. Establish an employee mentorship program
Why not set up an employee mentorship program?
Many retailers fail to tap into the knowledge and experience of their senior staff. Each week, a junior employee can meet up with a senior team member. In their time together, they can review performance and even bond.
Employee bonds are crucial for moral. It’s one of our most basic needs, we love to be a part of something and feel accepted.
14. Use Customer Relationship Management software to manage the customer experience
I’m sure that you use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software in your store. There are many options ranging from the inexpensive Contactually to the enterprise-class Infusionsoft.
Did you know that your CRM can help you manage customer experiences, not only customer data? Consider this example:
Your CRM alerts you that a regular elderly shopper has not come to the store for a few weeks.
Your employees call her and say, “Hi. I noticed you hadn’t been in our store for a couple of weeks. I wanted to offer you a ride.”
Listen to what she says before you respond. If she has not been in because she fell, you could send her a gift. If she’s in good health, you could offer her a coupon that will be valid in the next seven days.
What she will remember is that friendly store that cared enough about her to check on her.
15. Identify potential pitfalls
Here’s one final tip to improve customer satisfaction. Use a mystery shopping company. There’s a core benefit you get from hiring a mystery shopping company: An unbiased outsider’s view on how shoppers experience your store.