Customer care on the shop floor
In our everyday lives we come across many issues of bad customer care on the shop floor.
Last week, I walked into a tile and bathroom center. A multi-level and multi-million pound investment showroom with shiny bathrooms and the latest colorful tiles displayed for all to see.
I walked around for a few minutes; everything was hunky dory up to this point. I then headed to the sales counter for some assistance.
After coughing politely and asking for some attention, I was greeted by a hand who politely asked me to wait until he finished what looked like an estimate he was filling in for another client. This other client was obviously not in the shop at that moment.
The second assistant was on the phone talking to a client and didn’t lift his head or acknowledge my presence.
What is wrong with this ‘customer care on the shop floor’ scenario?
I cannot blame either assistant and was eventually served correctly. They were polite and knowledgeable in their field. It is probably a case of poor management or not enough training of front line staff. The shop wasn’t busy so it was not an under-staffing problem.
Proper customer care on the shop floor involves ‘identifying priorities’. If the two shop assistants knew their priorities better, their customers would leave the shop much happier.
Like in a game of chess, who is the most important customer in a chain of events on a typical shop floor? I will list them below and give my opinion why:
- The customer who walks into the shop is the most important at this point in time: He may not be your biggest spender or best dressed customer, but he took the trouble to leave his home and come and visit personally. Once you give him your attention you can decide how urgent and important he is to your business and react accordingly. Even if it means sending him home politely with a promise to contact him at a later date. (make sure you keep that promise!)
- The second customer in line in the shop must be managed correctly – you cannot keep this person waiting too long
Customer care on the shop floor is often a balancing act to keep the flow going and everybody happy. Deal with your customer politely and to the point. Talking about the weather and politics to the first customer while you have a whole crowd of people waiting is not a good idea – Not unless you run a village grocer or barber shop where everybody can join in the conversation!
- Customer care on the shop floor extends to the customer on the telephone. If he calls while you have customers in front of you keep the conversation short. You have options here. This customer can wait for a precise answer. You can call back with the information he needs.
- Great customer care on the shop floor puts the customer waiting for an estimate or any other piece of information in 4th place. He may be your biggest customer but as long as you answer him within the day, he can wait. Remember, you already have his contact details and his interest. The person standing in front of you waiting might be an even bigger customer. he could very well lose patience and go to your competitor.
To offer great customer care on the shop floor, you don’t need to own a multi-million pound business. I see problems in setting priorities in every type of shop I visit:
- Two shop assistants talking to each other while the customer has to wait like an idiot in front of them.
- A shop keeper talking on the phone, often not even to a client but to some friend or relative
- A shop keeper dealing with the first customer as if he had all day while a shop full of other customers lay in wait.
The list can go on and on. It is useless investing money in the physical structure of your business while at the same time customer care on the shop floor remains dismal. It can sometimes be a juggle to meet the demands of customers entering your shop at the same time, creating a staff shortage. Training skills in great customer care on the shop floor will overcome these problems.