I had a really great retail experience today and, in the spirit of positive word of mouth, I want to share it. It also highlights two key factors you should take into consideration when hiring staff.
I was after a Christmas gift for my son who is just getting into fitness, so I headed along to Stirling Sports in Westgate. I walked in, ambled around and stared blankly at a wall of fitness paraphenlia. There were elastic things that hooked into doors, sand-bag leg weights, roller ab thingees (can you tell I’m not a regular gym goer)… Basically, I was out of my depth and a little overwhelmed. I read the back of a few of the cartons and grabbed a $40 ab roller that promised to work the entire core as well as conditioning the rest of the body and one of those elastic things – it had George Gregan on the cover so I figured he must know what works. I plonked them down on the counter. The staff member said to me, “Are you buying these for yourself or as a present?” Tick one for him – he enquired about my purchase, rather than just ringing it through. Showing interest in a customer and their purchase is always the best start for great customer service.
I told him I was buying a gift for my son and explained the situation (he’s just started running and doing some home exercises in the garage afterwards) and asked if my choices were good ones. He explained what the products were for and how they worked then said, “He’d get the same results just using a Swiss ball.” He down-sold me! Tick two – this guy showed that he was honestly trying to get the best result for me, rather than a sale for him. I told him we already had a Swiss ball rattling around home that I could pull it out again. Brilliant! But it left me without a gift idea.
The staff member asked me what stage my son was at with his fitness and whether he was looking to burn calories and lose weight or tone up and turn fat into muscle. Tick three – he asked for the problem so that he could think of a solution. When I told him my son was keen to build muscle, the staff member led me to the kettlebells and told me how they worked. He also showed me a few of the exercises that can be done with a kettlebells and which parts of the body they worked out. Tick four: this guy had product knowledge and therefore the ability to educate customers. He told me the 8kg weight would suit my son, but said it was no problem to bring it back and swap it for a different size if it wasn’t right. Tick five: he was open to a customer returning to exchange a purchase to get the best fit. He then recommended a skipping rope as being good for cardio workouts and reached for the mid-priced one (not the top-of-the-line one). Tick six: overall, he up-sold me, but he sold me things I/my son wants and needs, rather than unnecessary add-ons. At this point of the transaction, my trust in this staff member is extremely high – he’s not out to rip me off or take me for all I can. He genuinely wants to help me. As he finally rings through my purchases, they cost marginally more than the items I’d previously chosen, but I have faith that they’ll be a lot more useful to my son and therefore used for longer. I am a very satisfied – and relieved! – customer.
When I thanked him for his help, he replied, “Not a problem – I’m just really into fitness”. Tick seven: he is passionate about the area he works in, which benefits customers. This Stirling Sports staff member (I feel terrible that in all this time I didn’t catch his name!) made it his mission to help me choose a thoughtful and useful gift. He cared about me, his customer, getting results. As a result, I spent more – and I’ll be back. And in the meantime I’m telling anyone in the market for fitness gear to check out Stirling Sports Westgate.
There are many things that contribute to great customer service (get in touch with me if you want to lift yours – I run some great training in this area) but you can get a head start by keeping the following in mind when hiring someone:
1. Hire people who are into what you sell. When you love what you do, a job isn’t a job – it’s a passion. Learning about the products or services or techniques isn’t a chore – it’s exciting. It’s also easier to retain information on the products/services when you’ve authentically used it yourself. Enthusiasts are credible – they give the customer confidence and they give good advice. For example, if you own a shop that sells cookware and bakeware, hire people who love to bake and cook. They’ll enjoy taking the latest roasted home to give it a spin; they’ll debate the merits of certain gadget features with other staff members, they’ll care. Make sure your bookstore staff are bookworms. Only hire real estate agents who love and live in the area you sell. Make sure that chap in your cycle store bikes. Selling sports shoes? Best your sales people run – marathons, if possible. If a potential sales person is not in your target market, think twice.
2. Would they stop to help an old lady on the street? That may be a bit of a big ask, but caring sales people are the best ones – those who authentically want to help, who care about getting the best results for their customers, who will go the extra mile to make a difference (no matter how small) to their customer. Find the people who get off on helping others reach their goals (a pair of jeans that make them feel a million bucks, the right computer for their business needs, the best vitamins for their issue). Hire people who want to help make a difference, rather than those who just want to hang out at the counter and ring things up.That’s does nothing for customer experience and is not conducive to customers returning.
For other ways to improve your customer experience, get in touch for some business coaching! email@example.com