During my long hiatus, I was constantly brainstorming on blog post ideas and somehow my mind kept circling around this particular topic. Coincidentally, I had two shopping incidents which somehow made me question the existence of good customer service in fashion retail or rather the lack of it in some cases.
What Is Good Customer Service?
“Good customer service means helping customers efficiently, in a friendly manner. It’s essential to be able to handle issues for customers and do the best to ensure they are satisfied. Providing good service is one of the most important things that can set your business apart from the others of its kind.”- thebalance.com
Does Good Customer Service Exist In Fashion Retail?
Well, this part is quite debatable. In my experience, I would say that about only 30% of stores in Harare understand the importance of good customer service.
The rest just make it blunt that they are in it for either the money or many other reasons. I can’t even remember how many times I have walked into a store and got zero help from the shop attendants because either they are busy chatting to another employee or just glued to their WhatsApp.
Customer is king and good customer service never goes out of style. When it comes to the business of fashion in Harare, I can guarantee you that the Top 5 boutiques in Harare have excellent customer service. The rest are either on the verge of shutting down or maybe just hanging on a thin thread. Excellent customer service usually comes easy if (a) the business is passion driven and (b) the employees understand the objective of the brand.
A Passion Driven Business vs The ‘I stumbled On Capital’ Business
There is absolutely no doubt that the nature of the financial economy has forced many people to become entrepreneurs. So we have all become CEOs of our many different ventures. Rightfully so! Passion fused together with talent is always a recipe for success. It is a gift from God to the humankind if you ask me. Anything that is run purely on passion yields originality and authenticity. This eventually sets different business entities apart, meaning more success.
There is of cause the option of employing the right minds to assist you. If you are lucky enough, you will find the right people to help the business grow. These are individuals who have to be passionate about the fashion industry and the business. They are the people who are going to represent your brand in your absence. Anyone ever watched undercover boss? If you have, then you probably know what I am talking about. Which brings me to the next factor; employing the right people.
- Employing The Right People
Employ the right people. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Just last week, we (my boyfriend and I) walked into a store at Longcheng plaza (a place I still believe is bad for a serious fashion business). Now as we were looking around, there was one lady on the till. She seemed to be the only attendant in the store. She was glued to her phone the entire time. Max saw a hat that he liked. As he touched the hat to esquire the price, the lady then shouted from the other corner “your hands have to be clean for you to touch that, are your hands clean?” Seriously? Of cause, the conversation went a little longer and it didn’t take us 20 seconds to walk out of that store.
If you are from Harare, then you probably know over a 100 fashion boutiques. Fashion retail businesses have become popular in the streets of Harare. How many of you like walking into a store and have the attendants call you by your name? It’s all about making your customer feel like they are part of your brands’ journey. I would not expect such bad attitude from a store owner who is passionate about the business and has invested a lot in it. The employees need to be well informed about the products you are selling as well as the vision of the brand.
Part of my job as a blogger is to create relationships with like-minded people in the fashion industry. That also includes boutique owners because that’s how good collaborations are created. A rude comment, bad attitude or lack of enthusiasm about your product is enough for me to walk out the door. I need to leave my money were I know that future business opportunities are a possibility. Bad attitude certainly doesn’t guarantee that.
Three Things You Can Do To Improve Customer Service.
- Be enthusiastic and informed about the strength of your product.
To persuade your customer to use your product over others and to ensure sales, you must know the strength of your products. Represent it in the most convincing and impressive manner and be enthusiastic about selling it. Make your products seem like gold.
- Conversate with the customer to figure out their needs.
Be at ease and find it less troubling to talk to customers. There are extremes to this however, don’t find yourself too nosy with the customers. Strike the perfect balance and know when to chip in. Answer questions. Greet them as they enter the store. Engage in small talk. It is important to give your customer the impression that you are glad to see them.
- Be the problem solver.
Customers want you to be helpful. Not to simply push sales but to genuinely be interested in helping. Sometimes people walk into a shop without any confidence about what they want. In such a case, your employee should offer to help. Provide feedback and suggest the right purchases that might go with the customer’s preferences. This obviously takes skill because you need to avoid chasing the customer away. Be the problem solver.
Good customer service is the most important part of any business. All of this goes back to remembering your objective. Be there to serve. We know it’s also about making profits, just don’t make it too obvious. Where do you shop? How would you rate your shopping experiences there?