Make it Easy for Your Retail Customer to be Serviced

MyServiceFirst principle 9 is all about making it easy for your customer to be serviced by your business.  In tough times like the one our economy is going through now, many retail stores are cutting back on floor staff.  Many of our principles get ignored because there isn’t enough staff on hand to be sure your customers can find someone to ask a question, much less offer greetings.

One of my first jobs I ever had was in retail.  I worked in a Value Giant, which was a discount department store like a Kmart, and later I worked for a Mervyn’s, a fairly large clothing department store.

I was part of the Grand Opening team at the Value Giant, and we had lots of staff to help get the store ready to open, and to assist the rush of customers over the first couple of months afterwards.  But then business dropped off as customers learned what we had, and the novelty of “checking out that new store” wore off.

So, they cut floor staff.  Again, and again.  Soon there were virtually no-one left on the floor.  The front register was always maintained as was the liquor, guns, and camera register.  Clothing had someone there to manage the register, and the Pharmacy was staffed.  Shipping and receiving had only one person, and there was one or two floaters at all times, including the store manager.

Giving good customer service in an environment like this is extremely difficult.  They key was to make it as easy for the customers to service themselves.

To help accomplish this our manager stressed that everything must be stocked and organized.

A night shift was implemented and the prime responsibility of the night shift was to be sure the shelves were stocked with all the shipments that had come in that day.  Every single product on every shelf of every isle was “faced,” which means that all the products were brought to the front of the shelf, and all remaining stock was lined up immediately behind the front item.

Shelf tags were in alignment with the products on the shelf, and if they weren’t available, we either took the item tag off the shelf, or left the space directly above the tag blank (the standard approach).  The key is to not have too many open spaces on your shelves so you look like you are out of everything.  Empty shelves send a very bad message to your customer, unless it is clear you are preparing for Halloween, Valentines Day, or some other holiday, you look like you are going out of business!

The final task was to clean EVERYTHING.  Dust all surfaces including shelves and products, clean all display windows, clean the bathrooms, wash & buff the floors . . . I mean everything.

During the day the floaters job was to keep the shelves in order, and look for customers to help.

Any customer who came down the isle was acknowledged, and if they appeared to struggle to find something, the floater was to stop their work and go help.

It’s was not easy, but we got the job done, and the store picked up business and eventually became a top performer in the chain.

At Mervyn’s we had a more complete staff, but the concepts were the same.  There has to be enough staff to fold all the clothes and put them back on the shelves and racks in proper order.

In today’s fast paced society, people simply don’t like to take time in a messy clothing store, or a disorganized department store trying to find out where items are, or if you have in stock the items they want.

If you don’t make it easy for your customer to do business with you, they’ll find it somewhere else, or online, and save themselves the trip.

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