I recently had the privilege of accompanying Paula on some store visits and at the same time
spent several hours in the Mall seeing and listening to what other front line staff at other
retailers say and do. One consistent thing we saw were no smiles and lack of engagement
from the staff. We stood in front of stores for several minutes at a time with no
acknowledgment, not a smile, a nod, or any greeting. Paula pointed out stores that had
Christmas packaging on display in June, signage that was crooked and ineffective, dirty
counters and line ups that were not being served efficiently. We receive emails from customers
with some of these same complaints. I recently received a complaint from a customer who
waited in a line up at our Kernels store longer than she expected to and when she made her
purchase and was about to leave the counter she heard the customer behind her order the
special. Even though she had been in front of the store for some time she never noticed the
daily special on the digital sign and was never offered it by the staff. She asked the staff to
exchange her two medium bags for the Buy a Large Get a Large Free deal. The staff said they
could not do this and hence the email to us.
The one store that Paula and I walked into and were delighted by was a candy store called
Squish. They sell a variety of chewy gummy bears and licorice in a variety of packaging. The
sales girls were awesome. Lots of smiles, happy to see us and show off their candy. WE
sampled one after the other and she told us how they are all natural products and noted the
allergens and other specifications. We were having fun! And we both walked out of that store
with purchases and I’m not really a candy lover. And of course she pointed out the buy 2 bags
and get the 3rd free so had to take advantage of that as well. Yes, she was truly awesome and
yes, her name was Paula too! She scored 10 out of 10.
According to Rachel Bailey, Training and Instructional Design Associate, for Oculus, great customer service takes, “a caring nature, tireless amounts of energy, and a dash of discipline”. And it has to be practiced consistently.
In an article her that appeared in “Training”, Bailey asked a number of real front line customer service providers: “What one little thing do you do in the workplace that helps you run a tight ship and ensure your team delivers great service?” Below are some interesting responses that can be “extraordinarily” effective when done regularly:
- Speaking in the positive: “The little thing I pull my team up on all the time is when they do not speak in the positive. Usually, it is saying something such as ‘No problem’ instead of ‘You are welcome.’ But it also could be the construction of a larger sentence such as ‘I am confused about what you want’; saying something such as ‘I would like a clearer understanding of what you need’ is more positive. Some of my team find it quite difficult to get accustomed to, so I make a bit of a game of it with them, and they can award each other points when they get it right, which earns them extra break time. Positive language breeds positive outcomes!” — Richard, Front Office Manager, Vancouver
- Spatial awareness: “I make sure my team is the best at saying “Hello” and acknowledging people. No one goes unnoticed on my watch! I test my staff on the details to make sure they always have a set of eyes on the game: ‘What color was that man’s tie? How long was the lady waiting in line for before you said ‘Hello’? It makes us the best, and we always get complimented on how attentive we are.” — Tracey, Guest Services Manager, New York
- Smiling as you speak: “I put a mini dressing table mirror on the desk of anyone who seems like they are tired or are struggling to sound excited on the phone. The mirror has a fake mustache glued to it and is placed perfectly, so the team member’s reflection then has a mustache! It soon puts a smile on their face and makes them sound much more interesting to talk to. In our line of business, where the client cannot see who they are speaking to, it is so very important that our reservation agents sound like they want to be there and help them get a deal. — Ellen, Reservations Coordinator, Chicago
- Being tidy: “I know what my team will say about me—I am a neat freak! I am forever doing laps of the spa, fluffing the cushions and straightening the towels. All the labels on the products need to be facing the front; no clutter should be on the reception desk; and the water and tea station must always be full. I love it when I see my team take this on board, and I see them keeping things tidy. It gives the spa a sharp look. We want our guests to see that they are getting the best when they come to us, and it is these little details that can subconsciously make a difference to their opinion.” — Michelle, Spa Manager, Toronto
- The answer plus one: “I get my team to use the ‘plus one rule.’ Whatever a guest requests, they should give the answer, plus one other bit of information that potentially will answer another question the guest didn’t think to ask. It is so easy to do and makes such a difference. For example, if someone asks for directions to the pool, after giving them directions, you also can remind the guest that they do not need to take their bath towels from the room as there are fresh towels at the pool. Tips like that always get a great response from the guests, and being extra helpful seems to put a smile on my team’s face, too.” — Rebecca, Manager on Duty, Vancouver
- Product recommendation: “Each week, I test our stores on their product knowledge. I believe it is important for all our employees to be experts on 100 percent of what we offer, so they can help make recommendations to our customers. The inter-store rivalry gets them engaged in learning. We also have found that employees’ added confidence of has increased job satisfaction levels. Win-win!” — Katie, Regional Sales Manager, Denver
- Saying thank you: “Every day as each team member leaves, I say, ‘Thank you,’ to them for their efforts and name something I noticed that helped make the day go better. Sometimes it is something someone else picked up on and shared with me. Then I can say so-and-so told me you did ‘this’ today, ‘thanks.’ I find it helps strengthen the team and makes them feel more appreciated. Happy employees = happy callers.” — Emma, Helpline Supervisor, Seattle
Thanks for taking the time to read my Customer Corner! Let’s all practice these tips and be proud of our service at Kernels!