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10 Customer Service Training Ideas for Retail Business Owners

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Dec 02, 2015 in Business

7 min read

Build retention with 10 fresh customer service training tips.

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What will sparkling-clean facilities and fantastic products do for your business? Nothing, if your employees deliver poor customer service.

Service quality plays a huge role in customer satisfaction, online ratings, and brand reputation. 

Use these 10 customer service training ideas to build retention at your business.


1. Give Your Full Attention

Customers with questions expect respect and cooperation . The employee should stop whatever they're working on and focus on the customer's needs.

To drive this point home, you should ban cell phone use by employees in all areas except the break room. Your business will suffer reputational bruises if employees prioritize Instagram stories, Facebook posts, and text messages over helping customers. 


2. Identify the Needs and Focus on Solutions

The customer always has a basic purpose for shopping, whether she hovers in front of a new display or speeds through the on-sale section. Retail employees should identify those needs with a simple question: "How can I help you today?"

This mindset applies to upset customers, too. They'll call and give your customer service reps an earful about a not-so-great experience. They’re upset, and the employee's natural reaction may be to return this attitude, but that never works out for anyone.

When the customer reaches out to your business, this could give you a chance to win them back, even if it feels like a long shot. Employees should apologize for an inconvenience or mistake to show accountability.

Customers could air grievances on your business's social media channels, so respond to these issues yourself or encourage your social media manager to take the conversation offline. You don't want a lengthy argument to play out in a comments section. That's a battle with no winner.


3. Send a Positive Message With Body Language

You know the phrase, "actions speak louder than words." Body language tells your customers everything they need to know.

Think about it this way. How would you feel if you went to a restaurant, and the hostess greeted you with a slouch, a frown, and no eye contact?

You'd be far from impressed.

When a customer approaches an employee at any point in the sale (whether on the floor or at the register), they are responsive to the body language they receive.

Your customer service training should focus on the following traits of good body language:

  • Facing the customer. 
  • Nodding your head as if to say "yes, I understand." 
  • Standing up straight instead of hunching over.
  • Opening palms with a welcoming gesture.
  • Maintaining eye contact.

4. Avoid Overly Casual Speech

Some retail employees make the mistake of speaking too informally with customers.  An overly casual tone could show a lack of professionalism.

This is a tough balance to strike, as there's no "one size fits all" approach that works for every type of business.

Customer service training can prevent the following common mistakes:

  • Responding with "Yeah, no problem" instead of "You're welcome." 
  • Addressing a group with "Hey, you guys" in place of "Hello, everyone." 
  • Saying "What's up?" when "Good morning" can be said instead.
  • Saying "Be with you in a sec" instead of "I'll be with you in one moment."


5. Find the Person With the Answers

You search for industry veterans when you hire new employees. As they learn your processes, even the seasoned workers won't have answers for every customer's question.

No one wants an,  "I don't know," followed by a shrug. Instead of playing a deer in the headlights, encourage your employees to find the answer by asking a coworker.

If the customer asks for a price check, the service representative can say, "That's a good question for our checkout counter. Let me call them and find an answer for you."


6. Skip the Life Stories

The store is packed, and customers have to wait a little longer to speak with a representative. They probably don't want drawn-out conversations and small talk.

In these situations, employees should answer each person's question or concern and move on. This isn't a great time for idle chit-chat or a long life story.

This skill is known as "keeping your finger on the pulse." You need to know when to talk with a customer and how to end the conversation before you overstay your welcome. 


7. Ask the Right Questions

This skill works best with customers who don't know what they're looking for. To ask a good question, the employee needs to listen patiently and understand what the customer thinks she wants.

From there, the employee determines what additional information is needed to find a solution. If a customer wants to purchase a winter coat for her son but doesn't know what type or style he'll like, the employee can ask pointed questions to figure it out.

Here's an example of how the conversation might go:

Customer: "Hi, I'm looking for a winter coat for my son, but I'm not sure where to start. He's been wearing the same thing for years, and I think it's time for a change."

Employee: "I definitely understand that. Would you say your son chooses material with durability and longevity in mind? Something that would last a few years?"


8. Make Sure They Go Home With What They Bought

Your employees should double-check the bag or package before giving it to a customer. Nobody wants to drive home from a store, only to realize they were given someone else's purchase.

Focus on keeping the register and checkout area organized at all times. Looking inside the bag to account for every item never hurts, either.


9. A Smile Goes the Extra Mile

This sounds cheesy and cliché, but it works. A simple smile makes the difference between a mediocre experience and a great one.

As a bonus, studies have shown that smiling and laughing can induce relaxation and relieve stress.

Build a rapport with your employees so you know when they need help. If the happy-go-lucky sales rep has dark rings around her eyes and is constantly frowning, now might not be the time to say, "Just smile!"

Talk to her and find out what's going on. We're all human, and we all have bad days. 


10. Please, Thank You, and You're Welcome

Just like a smile, "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome" go a long way. Customers respond well to common courtesy, so train your staff to retain these phrases in their permanent vocabulary.

It's always more effective and meaningful to say, "thank you" rather than "thanks." The same logic goes for "you're welcome" or "my pleasure" instead of "no problem."

How Your Decisions Affect Customer Service

Start your customer service training sessions with a simple question: "How would you want to be treated if you were a customer here?" The answers will most likely align with the tips we've outlined in this post.

Don't forget, your business decisions directly affect customer service. Quality will dip if you don't hire enough employees or invest time and resources in training.

Consider better business coverage as you work to improve customer service. Your local Pekin Insurance agent will customize a coverage plan that comes with competitive rates and superior service. 

Contact your local Pekin Insurance agent today!




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