Having spent the weekend fighting through the crowds to get my last minute Christmas shopping done, I was struck by how the whole experience can be made or ruined by the staff in the shops.
I was in London, where I expect that the extremes are as diverse as they can possibly be, but I am sure that everywhere in the country people have experienced the highs of fabulous service and the terrible lows of bad customer service.
I was visiting my favourite shop, Victoria’s Secret in New Bond Street and having been a regular visitor to these stores in America, I was not expecting quite the same level of service as the Americans give (let’s face it, they really do have the edge on making a customer feel special).
So I was more than pleasantly surprised when I was greeted at the front door with a really friendly smile and directions for all of the different departments, a warm welcome indeed. There were so many smiling shop assistants around on the shop floor, even though the place was heaving, I could easily get assistance whenever I wanted it. At one point a young chap disappeared down into the basement to hunt for a size that wasn’t on the shelf, another young lady couldn’t find my size, saying that the item was so popular and had sold out quickly, then 20 minutes later she tapped me on the shoulder to say that she had just seen the item in the returns pile and would I be interested in it?
This experience has really made me think about how our Customer Service could be continually improved. This year we have been the recipients of 3 different Bronze Awards for our Customer Service skills, not bad when you consider how many estate agencies there are in the UK, but still room for improvement.
I recently read a book called E-Myth revisited by Michael Gerber and one of the points I recall is the questioning of why sales staff say ‘Can I help you?’ a closed question which will ultimately heed the response ‘No I’m just looking’… Surely the sales staff need to ask ‘What is it you are looking for?’ or ‘What is it I can help you with?’ if they genuinely do want to help…? On top of that, it would be great if they really did appear to care about my needs, perhaps making some suggestions or telling me about the new stock which has just arrived, or the last few bits about to sell out?
In 2013 the Sewell & Gardner offices are going to be the happiest places to visit, the staff are all going to be so welcoming and obliging that I am convinced our reputation is going to sky-rocket, and, you know what, I think that the staff are just going to love coming into the office every day because it is such a great place to be!
Watch this space! Or better still, come and visit us, test our customer care skills for yourself.