Rises in business rates and online shopping have certainly had an impact on UK High Streets. Even long-standing High Street staples have been hit and yet some businesses seem to be thriving. What can we learn from the barbers, hairdressers, nail bars and independent retails?
In terms of convenience, price and selection, most physical stores will struggle to compete with online retailers, BUT, they can outperform with personal interaction and a positive customer service experience.
Customer Service Excellence
Many of the established High Street stores have become complacent. They simply display a selection of goods, invest in a seasonal window display and wait behind tills to serve customers. This approach no longer meets customer expectations. If you want to provide customer service excellence, the approach has to be personalised, interactive and focused on leaving customers feeling valued.
The barbers, hairdressers and nail bars offer a direct person to person connection. As a customer, you are greeted at the door, invited in and receive 1:1 service. You leave feeling good about yourself; uplifted. This emotional response will encourage you back for more. After a few visits, you’ll build rapport that makes you feel more like you’re popping in to see friends. That’s great customer service.
Many other independent retailers also excel in customer services. They smile and make a point of taking time for a chat whilst serving. They remember people’s names and preferences. Customer service might extend to dropping a recipe suggestion or relevant top tip into the bag, or carrying bags to the car. It’s the simple touches that cost very little, but mean a lot.
Spending time on direct contact with the customer means you can undertake market research every day. Committed retailers understand what the customer is really looking for. They can adapt their offer and keep pace with changing demands.
Investment in Customer Service at Metro Bank
Metro Bank has seen considerable success in recent years. As the majority of banks are closing branches, they’ve been opening up in new locations across the UK. At a time when their competitors were cutting customer facing positions, they were investing in customer service training.
There’s no doubt that online banking is convenient, but there are times when you want to speak with someone in person. Financial paperwork can be confusing, personal circumstances can change or you may simply want to know which account is best suited to your requirements. A machine simply doesn’t cut it, but polite and informed individuals can really help.
Recently, Helen Pettifer Training has delivered Supporting Vulnerable Customers Training to the team at Metro Bank in Aylesbury. Being aware of and adapting to the differing needs of all account holders is another important aspect of customer service. Is this something that your team is confident with?
Learning from Others
If you are responsible for a retail outlet, it’s time to provide your customers with an experience that they simply can’t get online. Get out from behind the till, update your displays weekly or daily and create an enjoyable shopping experience. For inspiration, look at others.
Toy shops; think like Hamley’s, who offer the chance to play and watch in-store demonstrations. Clothes Shops; look at boutique personal shopping experiences and provide customers with in-store advice on what colours and styles would suit.
Food stores; take inspiration from deli recipe suggestions and cooking demonstrations.
Most importantly, make sure that all staff are involved in sharing ideas and training. You need everyone to deliver customer services with fresh ideas, genuine smiles and a willingness to help.