Even in this digital age, retail remains still primarily a people business. No matter the size of your business, learn from these examples. Good customer service in retail focuses on your customers and builds customer loyalty.
Total Wine & More: Total Expert Customer Service
Founded in 1991 as a small store in Delaware, Total Wine & More now runs 205 stores across 24 states. And it ranks as the largest independent alcoholic beverage retailer in the U.S. The company sells beer, wine, spirits, cigars and accessories. The retail giant boasts its success comes from a team of more than 4,000 employees. It focuses on creating the Total Wine shopping experience special.
What makes the brand one of the best examples of good customer service in retail? Invest in their employees.
How This Brand Improved Through Better Training
Total Wine & More puts their staff through extensive training programs. It holds weekly team wine tastings and monthly wine-producer seminars. Many employees even travel to winemaking regions. They meet with producers. And they learn about the wines first hand. Training covers education on wineries. This includes wine regions, production techniques and varietals. It also includes breweries and the spirit business. The retail chain transforms each sales associate into an expert. That makes Total Wine & More a retail customer service standout.
The company makes sure every point of the customer experience is covered whether it’s simply directing a patron to the correct aisle or suggesting a certain vintage for a special occasion. Employees are personable, never condescending (no Wine Snobs here) and truly seem to enjoy their jobs. In fact, Indeed employment reviews show employees like focusing on customer service, interacting to help with beverage selections and the cooperative work atmosphere. The result is a happy work environment that customers want to return again and again.
Barnes & Noble: A Community Experience
Once upon a time there was a large retail bookseller called Barnes & Noble. And then along came Amazon. It’s true that the proliferation of Amazon sales has put the mega bookstore chain in a precarious position in the retail industry, but it’s saving grace is what made the store so different and popular when it first came on the scene. The company encouraged customers to hang out and relax in the store. No matter how convenient it is to get your books in the mail, many consumers still want to be able to interact with an actual retail employee.
At least that’s what the new CEO, British bookseller James Daunt is hoping distinguishes the chain from its e-tail competitors. Seen as a community gathering spot, the bookstore’s comfortable chairs, in-store coffee availability and yes, clean bathrooms, have been around for a while, but Daunt wants to make the experience even more inviting by taking a cue from independent bookstores.
How to Build Great Personality and Character
Daunt, who opened his first bookstore at age 26, believes a good independent bookshop has “personality and character, and that’s primarily driven by the people working in it, the booksellers.” He believes in investing time and energy in employees, to keep them around long-term, help them build a career and teach them the book trade. Daunt’s examples of good customer service in retail include making the customers feel a part of the reading community. Staff members personalize the customer experience by getting to know the customer’s likes and dislikes before recommending a book.
Something is obviously keeping Barnes & Noble top-rated for customer service. For the second year in a row, the retail chain was named the # 1 Most Reputable Retailer in America by the Reputation Institute. According to the Reputation Institute, Barnes & Noble possesses a strong emotional connection with the public. The bookseller’s high scores were based on Barnes & Noble’s core values of excellent customer service, integrity, and teamwork.
Target: It’s All About Convenience
Three-quarters of Americans live within 10 miles of a Target store, so you have probably noticed the special parking and signage for Target’s relatively new curbside pickup program. Understanding their customers’ need for convenience, CEO Brian Cornell has made it Target’s mission to make the retail giant “America’s easiest to shop store.” When it comes to great retail customer service, Target is leading the way by combining the ease of ordering online with the efficiency and convenience of same day pickup—all without making customers leave their cars. Sales are up at Target, by more than 30%, and one-third of these sales derived from same-day services, in-store pickup, and Drive-Up pickup.
How to Invest in Big Change
Inside the store, you can see changes happening too. Across the country, Target remodeled its stores with a $7 billion investment to create a more inviting atmosphere. This increases the quality of its customer service. Not all Target stores look exactly alike anymore. So stores keep a local feel. Offering personalized experiences becomes one of the great examples of good customer service in retail. Employees train to specialize in the departments where they work. So customers receive better expert advice and information.
While you don’t have the resources these big chains do, you can emulate them by investing in your employees, so they can best serve your customers.
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