As an active member of the retail industry, you've probably heard the phrase "the customer is always right" more times than you can count. Would it surprise you to learn that that famous quote, often attributed to Marshall Field, was originally "assume that the customer is right until it is plain beyond all question he is not?" In reality, it isn't practical to defer to customers 100 percent of the time, so making sure that your employees have the confidence to trust their own judgement can go a long way toward improving the service they provide. Here are three practical ways to empower your staff, drawn from a post written by Laura Macleod for Independent Retailer.
The foundation for most customer service training is: the customer is always right. So the employee must serve the customer with a bright smile, no matter what. This picture of the customer/employee relationship is not only inaccurate, as nobody is always right, it is also misleading. Customers don’t hold all the power and the employee is much more than a servant.
If you change the power dynamic between customer and employee, can you still please the customer? The answer is YES. Changing the focus and goal of customer service training is key to the success of any company. Here are a few tips on how to successfully go about this:
Employees need to use their personalities to make sales. Customers want to interact with an authentic human, not an actor or robot reading from a script. Workers should be encouraged to use humor, empathy, and common sense, all of which will ultimately show who they are. Personality needs to shine through the sales and promotional scripting.
What happens when there’s a problem? Workers need to know how to work through difficult situations with customers. They must get the facts and identify the problem, demonstrate empathy, then work through possible solutions. Instead of immediately being passed on to a manager, this methodical approach calms and reassures the customer that the issue will be resolved and that the employee is empowered to help them.
Even empowered employees need to know where and how to get help from management when it is really needed. Sometimes customers are unruly, and even the most skilled worker can’t please them. Workers need to know how to effectively bring in the manager. The manager needs to be accessible and graciously step in to handle difficult situations. This back up is crucial to employee confidence and performance.