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The IAA’s Chris Rolfe and Post Office’s Peter Johnson met Paresh Vyas to discuss how to engage shoppers and meet their needs.
With one till serving a mix of grocery shoppers and people using in-store services, impatient customers are can be challenge.
“I’ve been in this shop since 1979 but it’s always good to get new ideas and advice. I wanted to get a fresh pair of eyes to look at what we’re doing here and to get some advice on how to handle some of our more difficult customers. It’s tricky managing queues and introducing the right new products so I’d like to try some new ideas.”
1. Handle complains effectively
“Some customers have no patience, so when someone is collecting a parcel, people queuing won’t wait,” says Paresh. It’s important, says Peter, to understand these customers’ issues, but also set clear standards about what behaviour is acceptable. “Try to understand the problem, and model a clear standard about behaviour you will and won’t accept for your staff. Remember, customers have friends and family and word will spread about what’s acceptable in your shop.” He also advises Paresh to be on hand at busy times and talk to unhappy customers. Paresh adds he equips his staff to handle tricky situations through weekly role playing where he acts as angry shoppers.
Action: Write down how you want to handle complaints and tricky situations.
2. Anticipate and exceed customers’ needs
Paresh encourages staff to link-sell related products to drive basket spend. Peter agrees this is an effective way to drive sales, but warns Paresh to avoid over-selling. “Ask about additional products frequently, but not every time, so shoppers don’t think you’re being pushy. You can ask if they found everything they needed and show them where things are if they didn’t. Ask if they’ve seen new products you’re stocking too.”
Paresh is keen to introduce new products, but to make sure he stocks the right ones, he recently conducted shopper surveys. As a result, he’s introduced locally-sourced sour dough and olive bread. Peter suggests Paresh survey about his customer service as well.
Action: Ask for feedback on your customer service and make changes to improve.
3. Present your staff and shop professionally
While Paresh has owned his shop for 38 years, some staff members have only been with him a few months, and he is keen to instil high standards in them. This, says Peter, can be achieved by modelling the behaviour he expects to see. “Your customers shop here because they know and trust you. You need to set standards on how to greet customers, dress and behave.”
He suggests Paresh introduces a uniform or asks all staff to wear certain colours and name badges to help customers identify them. This will also make new employees feel part of a team. “I ask everyone to wear trousers or jeans but not track suits,” says Paresh, who adds he’ll consider introducing a standardised dress code.
Action: Introduce a dress code and name badges so staff stand out to customers
“The visit to Paresh’s store has been very positive. He is clearly a community man who wants to offer a great service to his customers, and he has a good relationship with his staff and shoppers. Today has been about a very important principle for customer service – looking at how Paresh can set high standards himself then encourage staff to meet them.”
Peter Johnson, Senior Network Transformation Manager, The Post Office