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Don't Growl, Don't Snap - Bite When the Time is Right.
After much discussion, the staff at Decorated Apparel Magazine decided to allow our morale officer - Jennie Fur (our Scottish Terrier) - her own blog space on the site. It didn't seem quite right at first, but with the number of dogs, cats, horses and even mice who have their own blogs on the internet, who were we to discriminate? These blogs are a collection of Jennie's unique views - from ten inches above the shop floor.
When it comes to customer service, every shop needs to put it's best paw forward. Let's face it, customers are the kibble in your shop's supper dish, and if you fail to keep the bowl clean and filled, your shop is going to go hungry. Every time a customer walks through your door, you may as well be sticking the scoop into your bag of Purina, and how you handle the customer determines whether the scoop comes out full or empty.
Nobody said that dealing with customers would be easy. They come in, sniff around your territory for a while, maybe they wag, maybe they don't. If you run up to them right away, you might scare them off like a squirrel up a tree. Wait too long, and they think you aren't interested. So how do you make the right impression? For me - I want to wag the moment I first see them walk in. You'd probably do better with a smile and eye contact. If they come straight to you, start with the easy stuff - sniffing noses or some other appropriate greeting. Forget that tired, old 'May I help you' thing. Come up with something more original or homespun. Depending on the client, I'd rather ask "How's everything going?" or better still, complement the customer on some unique item she is wearing or holding. If the client looks like a purebred, I might even ask 'How may I be of service?' How you start a relationship is likely to set the tone between you and that person for the rest of your life. Make sure the first thing you say has a 'I want to be your friend' kind of tone, you don't want a customer to hear a tone that says 'Hey! You look like money to me!' If you have some free time today, sit down and write a list of appropriate greetings you might use, so you can switch things up often.
Let's set one ground rule straight away - your shop needs an attractive display that customers walk into, or a retail section where there is lots of your best stuff to look at. If customers have no choice but to walk straight up to a counter, and there is nothing to attract the nose en-route, you're not giving the client any grass to walk on - that's not comfortable. So if your visitor starts nosing around your display or retail area, just go back to whatever you are doing, but keep an eye on what they sniff. Many people will look at one design, then another - whatever shiny object catches their attention. But finally, they stop to REALLY look at something in the room. That's when you need to set your teeth.
Now is the time to saunter over and DON'T ask if you can help. Instead, when you get within polite range (and before you get all the way to them) ask something like: "Isn't that a great sweatshirt? " Then add a value-building point like: "Those print (or embroider) great and they feel so soft." Slow your approach, or even stop to take care of some little detail nearby so that you aren't on top of them when they answer. You might find that this isn't what they came for, it just caught their eye. You need to make sure your body positioning doesn't keep them from moving to what they really came for if this is not the one. Hopefully, the client will start conversing with interest at this point. That's the time to move in. Let them ask lots of questions, and never belittle what they ask. Trust me - even the best customers ask the dumbest questions, but if you growl or snap, the hunt is over and you've come up hungry. If the client doesn't really respond or claims disinterest, that's fine too. Give them space, but hang around and make occasional small talk. Even if it turns out that the client just dropped in your door to get out of the rain, make sure they felt welcomed so that when they do need your services, they will come straight to you.
Happy Hunting! - Jennie Fur
*All ideas expressed in this post are the exclusively those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the policies or opinions of Decorated Apparel Magazine. The author represents that he or she is exclusively responsible for the content contained, and that he or she is the owner of any intellectual property used or expressed, and has the right to publish any statements or images contained herein. All content is offered 'as-is' and Decorated Apparel Magazine does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any statements contained in this or any other post. Your use of any advice or statements of fact or opinion offered are completely at your own risk.