How can we be better?
Imagine you are one of your customers. And say you run a Greek restaurant in Sandton. Throughout your meal, you are probably thinking little thoughts about how your experience could be a bit better.
“I wish they had a blackboard with all today’s freshest products on it.” “I wonder why they don’t have any imported coffees?” or “They should offer some lunch specials”… All of these little musings are thoughts you don’t bother to share with management — but they are guaranteed ways to improve customer service.
So make it your mission to find out what your customers really think about your store — ask them for feedback. Try to unlock all those little ideas that occur to your customers. They are pure gold if you want to improve your customer service.
Put your ego aside. Don’t look at these kinds of suggestions as complaints or criticism. Customer feedback is really just advice that can help you run a better business.
Related: 3 Secrets To Franchising Success
Don’t underestimate a good vibe!
Some people just have an engaging personality — they’re fun. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly why, but you know it when you meet them. Some people call it the X-factor, or charisma, or enthusiasm or positivity.
Whatever you want to call it, these people just have voema! They have drive and a positive attitude that make them fun to be around. These are the kinds of people that you want in your organisation. They’ll bring an amazing vibe to your store.
And that’s also why there’s no substitute for the face-to-face interview. When you’re hiring, you can read a thousand emailed CVs, but until you meet someone in person you won’t be able to gauge their personality, and what they can bring to your business in terms of energy, fun and positivity.
When you find people like this in the hiring process, give them a chance. Skills can be taught, but personality can’t.
Outdo! Outsell! Outserve!
You are in a constant race with your competition. Perhaps you’re too much of a nice guy to admit it, but you are. Whether you’re repairing photocopiers or selling Asian food, there is another business somewhere in town doing the same thing. You need to convince customers that coming to you is better than going to your competition.
Make it an article of faith for your business to do everything better than they do. You’re going to be compared, so make sure that you’re always better by comparison.
Is their welcome at the door a bit lukewarm? Then make sure you greet customers with the most heartfelt “Hi, how’re you doing?” they’ve ever had. Do they answer the phone after four rings? You should do it in two! They don’t cater for kids? Instal a play table and some colouring books immediately!
Customers will be blown away, and they’ll see that you’re streets ahead of the competition. Pretty soon the word will be out that you guys are the best copy shop in town. And it’ll be because you’re winning at customer service!
Make positive word of mouth happen
Clearly you want your customers to spread the word about your amazing store. Positive word of mouth is an invaluable form of neighbourhood marketing that can’t be faked.
You can encourage positive word of mouth by making specific offerings or having a specific customer-service habit that is geared to being remarkable, so that customers will tell their friends about it.
What would you like people to say about your store? What is it about your retail outlet that makes it unique in your neighbourhood market?
Be sure you know what that is, and if you can’t think of anything, create an offering that is remarkable. Now try to visualise the exact word-of-mouth compliments you want your customers to share about you.
Here are some examples:
- “They always make me feel welcome. The staff are so friendly!”
- “They really go out of their way to give service!”
- “They always remember my name!”
- “If you arrive after closing time, they don’t mind opening the store again.”
‘We guarantee our food’
Consumer appliances and vehicles usually come with a guarantee. But other products and services can also be guaranteed. It gives customers confidence in your store.
My own experience of this occurred at our restaurant, when I told our staff one day that we were going to guarantee our food and our service and we were going to put it up on our in-store DVD as well on our promotional material.
Our guarantee read something like this: “We guarantee our service and food at The Brazen Head. If you are not satisfied with the food or service, we will refund the full price of your meal and we will give you a voucher for the replacement value of what you would have spent.”
Although initially the staff were petrified, wondering how many people might take advantage of this, in fact nearly all customers were quite satisfied with our service.
Over an eight-month period, we had only one person who wanted their full money back. They were given a voucher which we honoured. This type of promotion also raises the bar for your staff performance so that they must live up to that quality.
Good staff morale is vital, and a compliment to a staff member can do wonders for their energy and levels of performance. Take a couple of seconds to acknowledge them and their good performances and you’ll have a motivated team ready to represent your company.
Communication in general is vital. A short, quick chat can often get a motivational message across quicker and more effectively than a long, drawn-out meeting.
Here are a few motivational phrases you may wish to try. See what a difference it makes! Try to say these with sincerity and when they’re justified.
- “Good morning.”
- “That was great! Just the way we practised it!”
- “You certainly made Mrs Smith happy today!”
- “Can you think of a better way to do this?”
- “You’re one of the best staff members we have!”
- “You’re always on time, Joe, we really appreciate that.”
- “Come on Tom, I know you can do better than that. I have seen you do it before.”
- “If we pull together, it’ll be a breeze.”
- “If anyone can do it, I know you can do it, Sabelo.”
- “You guys really make a good team! Well done.”
- “I’m proud of you all.”
- “What do you think, Brian?”
- “I need your help.”
- “You’re right, Kuli!”
- “We’re glad you work here!”
- “Thank you!”