A new year, a new start. How can you be a better customer in 2018?
With the madness of Christmas now an increasing distant memory, we’ve been flung into the January sales. When it comes to the retail sector, there really is no rest for the wicked with staff working harder than ever before and January sales targets now to meet!
At this time of year, I always reflect on how things could have been so different for me had I made other career choices in my twenties. After finishing University, I started flying for British Airways as cabin crew and haven’t looked back since. However, before accepting the position, I had also applied for all the usual graduate management training programmes and been successful in also securing an offer from major toy retailer, Toys R Us.
I couldn’t have been looking at two more contrasting positions. One on a serious managerial level with the prospect of a promising retail career ahead of me and the other just a lighthearted opportunity to see a little of the world after all that studying.
Funnily enough despite one job clearly outweighing the other in terms of pay, in the end it was an absolute no brainer. Despite both occupations involving seasonal and unsociable hours of work, the main thought I had when considering the offer from Toys R Us was “Christmas will be a killer- every year”, I balked at the thought of it.
Every year since then, I always raise my hat at Christmas time to the retail sector as I don’t think that there is enough credit given to them for the hours they work and the service they provide. I find trooping through a shopping centre for just one hour hard enough without spending umpteen hours on my feet with little thanks or recognition.
Of course the retail industry is not on its own in this respect. Equally as tough is the increased pace and demand of the hospitality and travel industries with millions of people on the move over the festive period. So hats off to those who work so hard in these sectors too.
This got me thinking that we can improve our own customer service experience by being better customers ourselves. Rather than just relying on staff to provide us with that WOW factor, let’s turn the tables, see what a difference it makes and if we can make someone else’s day instead.
1. Say hello, please and thank you– This is such an obvious thing to do but the most basic manners are often forgotten.
2. Ask staff how they are and interact with them so they feel valued and appreciated– I must admit I’m sometimes a little grumpy when I’m asked questions by whoever is serving me. Things to do, places to go etc etc. However a few pleasantries costs nothing and can make for a more personal experience if you are remembered on your next visit.
3. Use social media to praise and champion excellent service rather than just picking up the negatives– We are always very quick to tackle a company if something has gone wrong but not so quick to recognise excellent customer service.
4. Remember and use the name of whoever is serving you – Again this can make for a more personal experience. It’s nice to recognise and treat the person serving you as in individual and not just a representative of the company.
5. Recognise and appreciate service above and beyond the expected – It’s not always appropriate to tip but if the service is good and it’s somewhere you can do so, then it is a nice gesture. An alternative to tipping is to ensure you complete any appropriate reviews and name any staff members who stood out in terms of the customer service they delivered. Thanking the staff member personally and making sure you mention their name to whoever is in charge may also ensure that their hard work is recognised and rewarded accordingly.
Here’s to being better customers in 2018!