When operating an online as well as an in-store business, you may forget that you cannot treat your customers the same. In the end, both types of customers want to make a purchase, but they have different needs to complete the sale. Online customers want a direct shopping experience, while in-store customers want to take their time browsing and may require one-on-one help. Below are some important tips to help you improve your in-store customer support.
Train Your Employees
Along with having employees who are friendly and personable, it is vital to the success of your business to have employees who know the goods and services you sell. Consider this: A man walks into your electronics store and wants to purchase an MP3 player. He asks your sales associate, “How many songs does this player hold?” What happens next completely relies on how well you have trained your employee.
1. Your sales associate responds with, “I have no idea,” and awkwardly stares at your potential customer in silence. This averts the sale and the visitor leaves unhappy and without the MP3 player.2. Your sales associate kindly responds with, “I am not exactly sure, but give me one moment and I will find out for you.” The visitor is slightly annoyed with your sales associate being unable to answer such a simple question, but reluctantly purchases the MP3 player upon waiting five minutes for an answer. You hope that he does not tell all of his friends that your employees are unknowledgeable.
2. Your sales associate cheerfully responds with, “This MP3 player holds up to 100 hours of music as well as 10,000 images. The battery life lasts for 16 hours when you play it non-stop, but the headphones can get uncomfortable. Here, let me show you a much more comfortable pair of headphones.” Your visitor purchases the MP3 player, an additional pair of headphones, and a speaker mount—all thanks to your very well-informed, trained sales associate.
Make Sure In-Store Customer Support Is Readily Available
Have you ever walked into a store and had a cashier or floor associate greet you immediately? I have and it makes me feel comfortable and wanted. Now, have you ever walked into a store and had a cashier or floor associate look at you, but not say one single word? I have had this happen too and it makes me feel uneasy as well as gives me the impression that no one will help me if I need it.
Having hospitable employees is a must if you want your customers to return. I do not know how many times I have heard about shoppers leaving a store because the employees were rude and unhelpful. This goes back to the saying of Customer is King. Treat your customers like kings and queens and they will be much more likely to buy your goods or services, return to your establishment, and tell their friends about the experience they had with your business. Be eager to help and always greet customers upon entering your store.
In-Store Customer Support: Know the Difference Between Eager and Aggressive
Although I just told you that you want to be eager to help customers, make sure you know the difference between eager and aggressive. It is one thing to quickly acknowledge visitors, say hello, and ask them if they need any help finding anything after a few minutes of browsing. However, it is another thing to do so in an aggressive manner, make the customer feel rushed, and give the impression that you are only there to help because you have to help.
Hire naturally-friendly employees, check in with them from time to time, and make sure that your in-store customer support specialists know that there is a fine line between eager and aggressive.
Do Not Hide Them—Display Those Goods!
Let us go back to the example of the merchant who owns an electronics store. If you are selling flat screen televisions, gaming systems, cordless home telephones, digital cameras, or any other electronic item that customers would want to inspect before buying, then put it on display. This is one of the main reasons why customers prefer in-store shopping to online shopping—so he or she can examine the product before completing the sale.
If you sell kitchen supplies, display those goods in a mock kitchen.
If you sell clothes and accessories, display those goods on mannequins.
If you sell furniture, display those goods in mock living rooms or bedrooms.
In-store shoppers also want to envision how your goods will look in their homes, so do not be shy to set up a demo area in your store with a mock living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, game room, or man cave. Think of creative ways to display those goods and entice your customers to buy, buy, buy!
What Is Online Is What Is In-Store
Oftentimes you will see a franchise such as Walmart display all goods online, but not have all of those same goods in-store. As a smaller boutique, it is very important to display the same items online as you have in-store and vice versa. I recently went shopping and told a sales associate I saw a dress on their website that I loved. She responded with, “We are not the same.” The sales associate explained her own frustrations to me. “I bought a dress from the online store,” she said, “but it didn’t fit right. I brought it into the store to exchange it and the manager wouldn’t let me because the online store isn’t the same as the physical store.”
Had I been an unruly customer, this could have turned into a scene. However, your customers may not be so understanding. Make sure that what you display online is what you have available in-store to avoid confusions with your sales associates as well as your customers.
Most Importantly, Solve the Problem
One of the most important in-store customer support tips I can offer is this: Understand your target market, know what problems they have, and perfect how your goods and services can solve their problems. Customers do not want all the glitz and the glamour if you cannot solve their problem, so hold off on the fireworks display until you know that your business will help make your customers’ lives easier—unless, that is, your customer’s problem is needing fireworks for a show!
When you understand your customers’ problems, you will then understand how to sell your goods and services in-store.
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For more than a decade, Instabill has been providing e-commerce merchant accounts to business owners worldwide. For the last couple of years, we have also been providing retail merchant accounts to businesses in the United States. Our payment gateway allows you to accept credit cards online in a safe, secure, and fast environment at a competitive and affordable cost while our retail merchant accounts come equipped with some of the most popular POS terminals for small, medium, and large in-store transactions.
For more information on how you can apply for a merchant account with Instabill, contact us online or call us at 1-800-318-2713 today. To read more articles similar to this one about in-store customer support, be sure to visit our blog each week.