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In the third instalment of the IAA’s 12-week in-store programme, category partner Post Office advises Kam and Dalbir Singh Nijjer on delivering top customer service
This week, the IAA’s guide to improving your business focuses on customer service. At the heart of every independent shop is its customers and keeping them happy will drive loyalty and footfall.
Before you benchmark your shop this year, find out what customer service advice Peter Johnson, Deputy Director for Network Transformation at the Post Office, had for Kam and Dalbir Singh Nijjer when he visited their shop.
The brothers’ family have run Spar Meriden in the West Midlands for more than 20 years and strive to give shoppers great service. At just under 1,000sq ft, they have a standard convenience offer with some well-selected specialist lines, such as a local meat range and locally-made Indian takeaway meals to stand out from the competition.
What can you learn from Kam and Dalbir’s IAA customer service action plan?
Why I take part
Kam and Dalbir say: Customer service is important to us – it helps bring people into the store. Our regulars know us and we have a great relationship with them, but you can get too comfortable, and not realise the changes you need to make. We’re hoping to get some pointers from the Post Office and the IAA to help us go back to basics and do things better. Little bits of advice can make a big difference.
IAA advice for Kam and Dalbir
Kam & Dalbir’s challenge: Ensuring the shop and staff are presented professionally
Kam & Dalbir are very welcoming to everyone who walks through the door and the shop is well stocked and presented. What more could they do to make their shoppers feel welcome?
Peter says: “It all starts with physical appearance. Kam has his Spar t-shirt on, but it would help if all staff wore them, even those working for a couple of hours. While a lot of customers know their names, it doesn’t hurt to have name badges. Customers feel more able to ask you a question if it’s clear someone is a member of staff.”
Action: Contact Spar to get uniform and name badges for all members of staff so everyone is accessible to customers
Kam & Dalbir’s challenge: Having a consistent approach to customer service
The brothers actively promote new products, such as their local meat range. They tell shoppers about it, take them to the fixture and give them flyers. How can they get the rest of the team on board?
Peter says: “Kam and Dalbir need to set out their vision – what does excellent customer service look like. It can focus on presentation, eye contact with customers and always being helpful. Then show those store standards to staff and regular customers and monitor success. If staff know the store standards they can be challenged on making sure they live up to them.”
Action: Put a list of four or five store standards in place and share it with your team. Review success quarterly.
Kam & Dalbir’s challenge: Monitoring customer complaints and feedback
The shop gets very few customer complaints, but Kam and Dalbir deal with each one quickly to make sure the customer walks away happy. How can they take this a step further to ensure consistency?
Peter says: “If retailers and their staff don’t record complaints and suggestions they can’t improve on them because they don’t know they’re there. Keeping records of complaints and feedback might sound like a bit of work, but it means they can better understand how they managed the situation and what good customer service is. Talk to customers, understand what they want and manage their expectations.”
Action: Actively ask customers for feedback and keep a record of complaints and suggestions so you can spot opportunities.
Peter Johnson, deputy director Network Transformation, Post Office
Great customer service is vital for shopper loyalty, and Kam and Dalbir do a great job of keeping customers coming back. Today we’ve focused on how they can go back to basics and improve on the good work they’re already doing.