Boost Your Customer Loyalty With These 15-Minute Free Online Courses
Strong relationships and stellar service lead to happy customers.
Pet “parents” are profitable customers who are willing to spend—and, often, splurge—on high-quality food, treats and toys to keep their pets happy and healthy. And like most parents, they tend to be well informed, protective and expect your team to take a sincere interest in their pets.
Smaller brick-and-mortar retailers have a big advantage over online and mass merchandisers when it comes to providing the types of personalized shopping experiences that keep pet owners coming back. Exceptional service involves listening well, asking the right questions, and providing advice and solutions that take care of shoppers’ specific needs. These skills might come naturally to experienced salespeople, but they can be intimidating to new employees.
That’s why Pet Store Pro developed two 15-minute “micro” courses to introduce new hires to the art of delivering great service. The free online program provides consistent, reliable employee training to help stores like yours gain a competitive edge. Used alone or to supplement the Pet Store Pro’s full-length customer service and sales courses, these micro chapters are designed for associates to complete in 15 minutes and put the skills they learn to work right away.
Every area of your store provides natural opportunities for your associates to bond with customers. Engaged customers are more loyal to your store, shop with you more often and buy more each time they do. They are also more likely to speak highly of your shop to other potential customers and on social media.
Pet Store Pro’s Engaging Customers micro chapter teaches associates how to strike up conversations with customers throughout the store that reveal the reasons for their visit and how they make buying decisions. The chapter covers simple techniques your employees can use to establish an initial connection, get customers talking, and encourage them to take a closer look at store products and displays. For instance:
• At the entrance, ask customers if it’s their first time at your store. If they answer “yes,” tell them what makes your store special, such as its wide product range or unique product selections. If they say “no,” welcome them back and let them know you appreciate the repeat business.
• In the aisle, bring customers a shopping basket and mention any sales. Walk them to what they’re looking for, and then offer additional help by explaining the item’s features and benefits.
• At checkout, ask customers if they are making a repeat purchase and, if so, what they liked about the product. Tell them how to find coupons and information, such as pet care tips, on your store’s website.
Customers are satisfied when their expectations have been met, and pet owners have very high standards. Even little things that at first go unnoticed might cause customers to shop around the next time they need something. For sure, continued dissatisfaction leads to a loss of trust—and ultimately—lost business.
Pet Store Pro’s Customer Satisfaction micro chapter is designed to help your employees understand their role in providing the four elements of customer satisfaction: perfect products, friendly service, timely delivery and support systems to cover common problems. Associates will learn how to recognize when a shopper is frustrated or confused and practice how to handle tricky issues in ways that leave customers satisfied. For instance:
• If a customer makes a purchase and later discovers it is damaged or doesn’t work, make up for the inconvenience by offering to deliver an acceptable replacement to the customer’s home.
• When waiting is unavoidable, acknowledge the situation by making eye contact with customers, thanking them for their patience and letting them know that they’ll be taken care of as soon as possible.
• If a customer expects to pay the sale price for an item that was mistakenly in the wrong display, know your store’s procedure to override the price at checkout or give the customer a discount to compensate for the error.
Your Chance to Wow with Service
The size and specialized focus of independents provide real opportunities for your associates to interact with customers on a personal level and satisfy their specific needs.
A staff that can establish genuine connections that show they care about pets as much as pet parents do is the best way for smaller retailers to set themselves apart.
Since its launch in 2008, more than 37,000 pet store owners, managers and sales associates from more than 7,000 stores have used Pet Store Pro. To learn more about the program, visit petstorepro.com.
Celeste M. Powers, CAE, is the president of the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA). PIDA’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the wholesaler-distributor, to promote partnerships with their suppliers and customers, and to work cooperatively with other organizations in fostering the human-companion animal bond.