By Maxine Windram – Co-founder of Brava Lingerie
It has become so apparent that in times of technological advancement and high competition for customer attention that stand-out customer service is the absolute key to success. The age-old ‘Customer is King (or Queen) rings true today, perhaps more than ever.
We run six specialist D Cup & Up lingerie and swimwear retail stores across Sydney and Melbourne and an online store, which actually outperforms our physical stores. When Mum and I set out with a vision of providing a better shopping experience for the many fuller busted women who were then only offered unattractive beige bras along with poor fitting techniques, it was our virgin plunge into the world of retail. We not only believed in our products and finding a resolution for these women, but in providing excellent customer service – no matter what.
We were committed to providing that same level of customer service online, the place where most businesses rely on automation across predictable touch points. This is not enough. You have to stand out, provide a customer experience that is over-and-above customer expectation, and let your commitment to this permeate everything you do.
Delivering unwavering high-quality customer service has been the foundation for our success and the reason why we have been recognised with the 2018 Australian Retail Association Customer Experience Award, a double win for online and instore customer experience excellence at the 2019 Inside Retail Retailer Awards and most recently the Online Retail Industry Customer Service Excellence Award (ORIAS).
Here are our five top tips for exceptional customer service:
#1 – More than Help
When sales targets are front of mind, staff can forget that it’s actually all about the customer. When you help a customer you win their trust, and when you solve a problem they didn’t even know they had, you exceed their expectations leaving them wanting to tell the world. Help, don’t sell.
#2 – Listen Longer
Often sales staff are too quick to move toward the sale. Really listening to the customer, what their issues, asking more questions and having a deep understanding of what they are looking for is paramount. An empathy-driven approach will build trust, which builds loyalty and loyalty will build your business.
#3 – Serve rather than Sell
Sell to your customer only if it is in their best interest. To thrive and not just survive all businesses need to meet KPI’s, but it should not be at the expense of whats in the best interest of your customer. Consumers are smart and outdated high pressure sales tactics do not consider the long term and life time value of a happy customer. If it is not in the best interest for the customer, lose the sale. Be honest with them, tell them you don’t think it suits their needs or solves their problem. Refer them to someone else if needed. This respect for them will come back manifold – be it directly or indirectly.
#4 – Make them Feel Good
People will always remember how you made them feel. From the greeting, to the care you provided to thanking them for choosing you, it is likely they will tell others and whether they buy now, later or not at all, you will have won them over. In the long term it is better to have happy non-customers who will recommend you, than to push for the extra sale and lose them later to buyer remorse.
#5 – The Customer Comes First
‘Customer is Queen’. Treat them like royalty. There are always jobs like unpacking boxes and putting away stock, but when customers enter your store these jobs should be dropped like a hot potato. Give them your full attention, that means no mobile phones on the shop floor, no carrying on with other tasks or chatting with other staff members. You would think this is common sense, right? Well, in many retail stores you will find that this obvious sense is not all that common.
Delivering the same high level of customer service across all touch points is crucial, be it in-store, online, from your sales process, follow up and customer care. In our highly digitised world, providing personalised customer service is the best recipe for success.
Maxine Windram is the co-founder of Brava Lingerie together with her mother Lin. Having grown to 6 stores across Melbourne & Sydney since 2006, the duo has served countless women across Australia and far beyond with their wide range of D-K size lingerie, swimwear, sports, bridal and maternity bras, earning them multiple retail industry and customer service awards. www.bravalingerie.com.au
Erik Bigalk is a Business Solutionist, serial entrepreneur, an internationally published writer and keynote speaker, quantum coach and founder/CEO of Smart Solutions, a brand communications firm based in Melbourne Australia.