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What Big Box Stores Teach Us about Customer Service

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When it comes to customer service, you can learn a lot from the success and failure of others. Some stores like Nordstrom have a reputation for excellent customer service, others not so much… Learn about the insights you can get from big box stores.

Hire and Train the Best Employees

Some big box stores cut corners with staffing. Unfortunately, this often leads to employees who don’t present the business in the best light. In the worst-case scenario, you get employees who are rude, obnoxious and condescending to your customers. Take a cue from Nordstrom. Provide enough staff to adequately serve customers during busy times. Look for passionate people who are kind, confident and know how to make people feel welcome. Your training program should present your employees with a wide variety of scenarios and teach them how to go above and beyond to make lasting impressions. The customer may not always be right, but your employees should know how to create positive outcomes from problematic situations.

Be Upfront with Your Customer Service Policies

Few things will infuriate customers more than vague clauses or hidden fees and terms. Don’t bury important details in fine print. Make sure your customers know exactly what they’re paying for and what to expect from returns, replacements, warranties, service restrictions, etc. Of course, the more accommodating your policies, the less you’ll have to worry about dissatisfied customers.

Keep Up with the Times

Smartphone and tablet users are no longer a niche, but a widespread audience spanning virtually every demographic. Customers are online 24/7, and data is being transferred in massive volume. If your website can’t handle high traffic or isn’t optimized for mobile access, customers will leave. The design and functionality of your website and mobile app will define your customers’ experience on these platforms. Hire professionals to make sure your online and mobile offerings are up to par. Keeping up with the times also means keeping all your business information up to date. This includes phone numbers, links, prices, shipping policies, hours of operation, and products and services offered. You’ll also want to keep tabs on your inventory to ensure you always have enough stock to fulfill orders.

Address and Resolve Issues Promptly

No business is flawless, and you’ll likely make your fair share of mistakes. What counts is being proactive in informing your customers when there’s a problem and offering solutions ASAP. If a shipment is delayed, a product runs out or you have to cancel an appointment, send the customer a courteous message apologizing for the trouble and offering options to make it right. It also doesn’t hurt to send them a coupon or freebie to show that you value their business.

Know How to Handle Negative Reviews

Reputations are hard to build and easy to tarnish. As your business grows, chances are you’ll run into customers who feel you could’ve done better. And one of them might even make their unfavorable opinion of you available for the world to see on Facebook, Yelp or other review sites. Regardless of whether their criticism is justified, you should respond with utmost courtesy and professionalism. Address their issue, apologize and offer a solution. You may or may not win them over, but the important thing is that you’ve shown the public your willingness to make things right and provide the best customer service possible.

While your business may not (yet) rival the Nordstrom empire, it can take a few notes from their customer service playbook. Follow these guidelines to earn your business the right reputation and to keep your customers coming back.

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