MIDNIGHT AT THE OASIS – DAY 8 OF A 30 DAY BLOG (SOAP OPERA?)

YOU: Hello.

THEM: Just the paper mate.

YOU: That’s a dollar thanks. (PAUSE) Out of five? (PAUSE WHILE YOU MAKE CHANGE) Four is your change.

THEM: Thanks.

YOU: Hello.

Twelve seconds max is all you get in a newsagency. I’ll use a newsagency as an example because I know about about them, I work in one reasonably regularly and they are a channel where customer service is a goal many owners focus on.

I reckon that an employee/customer interaction lasts 12 seconds in most cases. Little time to provide the experience we’re talking about here. So what do you do?

Here are some simple rules to help:

Make sure your employees want to be there. If they don’t then help them find work elsewhere.
Respect employees and bring them into your confidence. If they sense a lack of respect you’ll see it in poor work and lower sales.
Offer employee training to build their skills. The more you put into them them more you will get back.
Build your counter for upsells. No point is trying to earn more from customers if you do not provide opportunities.
Rotate employees. People get tired. Build a roster which reflects that.
Consider half shifts. The full day shifts make for a poor performance second half of the day if you’re at the counter.
Talk to customers – YOU, the boss. Find out what they think. If they like something, do more of it. If they don’t, stop.
Train your employees on contact. By contact I mean genuine engagement with customers. Even in 12 seconds you have an opportunity to make someone’s day with a nice comment, a smile, extra service.
Offer extras. Have free offers and bonuses available and make sure employees know about them. Such offers should focus on your point of difference.
Create a customer newsletter. Be local and personal and find ways, briefly, to connect with customers.
Make the shop comfortable. Have some chairs for people who have to wait. Let people see your stock. Keep the shop cool in summer and warm in winter. May seem like commonsense – but you’d be surprised.
Engage with customers. Like a contest for the best smile, the happiest greeting.
Employee of the month. Let your customers decide. Ask them to vote.

You’ve got just a few seconds to make a difference with customers, so that your business is remembered. It’s tough but the rewards are business growth.

Take a shot and start with your sales counter. This is where the oasis t=strategy can come alive for any retail business.

It’s where independently owned small retailers can make the difference because we get it, we understand it, it touches every cell of our being. Whereas our corporate competitors do it by rote and this will, one day, collapse against our genuine exceptional service.

This type of service makes us memorable and that’s certainly something we want to be.

If you’re up for a challenge:

Get rid of your counter.
Replace retail employees with non retail employees.
Once a month have a customer serving.

CUSTOMER: Thanks mate.

YOU: (After leaping across the counter in a single bound and while embracing the customer and with a tear rolling down your cheek) No, thank you.

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