How do I provide the best customer service if I do not have enough human resources? I work in retail.

Retail is the playground for CX since, like the customer, it is always changing and adapting. Start with learning what matters most to your customers, as well as what most irks them. What is the subject of their most frequent requests and their most frequent complaints. Put your scarce resources on the vital few, instead of the trivial many. Along the path of “most crucial” find little simple ways to add distinctive delights. My dry cleaners put a bowl of foil wrapped chocolate coins. When patrons received their change, they also got a chocolate coin.

Chip BellSenior Partner at The Chip Bell Group | Author | Keynote Speaker | Innovative Service | Customer Loyalty

This is a very realistic challenge = the way I have always managed my Retail Teams and Stores is that 1. Certify the individuals in their role and responsibilities, not just train 2. XTrain in another role 3. OnGoing Coaching CTDSR (Catch Them Doing Something Right)

Pat PorrasTrainer & Speaker: I train and educate participants thru engaging & highly interactive workshops – Specializing in Strategic Sales & Service.

It is tough to provide the best customer service without enough human resources. Are there self service opportunities available for the customer? Are the available human resources scheduled appropriately for high traffic periods?

Errol AllenCustomer Service Focused Operations Expert, Consultant, Speaker & Author

First, reimagine the customer experience in your retail environment. Identify the reasons why people are needing help. If it is about problem solving and issue resolution, identify what your processes are that are causing customers to need you. Knock those out. If people need personal attention for engagement and to help them make the sale, those resources should be considered as investment in growth – not a cost.

Jeanne BlissCustomer Service and Experience Expert, Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author

If you’re not already doing so, consider adding some automation (in the form of Natural Languge call routing and Self-Service) into the delivery channel. Automation, when done right, can dramatically help a company deliver on its goal to provide the best possible customer service, at lower costs than live agents. It is however a double-edged sword and if done poorly, can exacerbate the problem by frustrating customers even more than they might already be.

Lee TuckerCustomer Service and Experience Expert, Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author

1. Focus on satisfying the customer you are serving: Listen, Respond, Act, Confirm. 2. Develop a way to test and assess the real financial value of great customer service to build a case for more staff. 3. Have two different service styles – one for when you are trading normally, and one for when you are super busy. Oh and of course always be polite, kind and caring!

Natalie Calvert CX Leader & Coach | Board Advisor| Conference Speaker | Author | 200k+ cust serv & sales people, 100+ orgs

Ah – the gazillion dollar question! For retail you need to learn how to be larger than life. You may not be able to get to each customer quickly, but you CAN let customers know that they are in for a treat when you do. Gigantic smile, raise the volume on your voice and ooze helpfulness. If you ever make it to Kanata in Canada, there’s a guy named Mike at the Home Hardware store who is the poster-boy for this. You won’t have to ask which one he is…. You’ll know.

Shaun BeldingCEO The Belding Group, Best-Selling Author, Customer service expert, Acclaimed customer service keynote speaker, LinkedIn group owner “Customer Service Champions” 100K+ Members, Co-Host of the CX Success Summit

Simply have all your existing and future employees read the same book on customer service, one you believe in. Get some great videos on customer service and make watching it a mandatory part of their first day of work. Then have a short list of Never & Always (non negotiable standards) that all employees have to know and be tested on before they can start interacting with customers. i.e. Never point, Always show them, Never say, “no problem.” Always say, “certainly, my pleasure, absolutely”. Never overshare, Always take care of it.

John DiJuliusAn international consultant & best selling author of two books he works with companies like The Ritz-Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Nestle, Marriott Hotel, PwC, Cheesecake Factory, Progressive Insurance, Harley Davidson, State Farm, Chick-fil-A & many more.

In the event that you find yourself short-handed one day, I would suggest that you identify the areas where customers normally face problems and you ask your team to pay particular attention to that area so that they can quickly help smooth and solve any problems that their customers have.

Adrian Swinscoe Adrian Swinscoe Customer Engagement, Experience and Service Consultant/Coach | Speaker | Author | Blogger & Forbes contributor

If you are asking the question because your organization won’t invest sufficiently in enough people, then you must demonstrate the results, via customer feedback. Lost sales, poor CSAT, unhappy staff etc. If this is a bricks and mortar store then you must ensure that at minimum you are in a position to greet and acknowledge each customer even if you can’t serve them immediately and to give them some idea of how long they must wait. They may decide not to and this is what you need to track, and where possible put a financial value on the loss.

Gerry Brown Saving the World from Bad Customer Service – Customer Experience Specialist, Speaker on Customer Inspired Thinking

My advice is to have at least one person fully dedicated to customer service. Then you need to share customer service goals with the rest of your staff and make sure that they will also take some ownership of them. E.g. what kind of information may customers ask to customer service which are product / marketing / IT related? How can customer service get them quickly from other staff, and respond promptly to customer’s queries? The key is improving internal communication, regardless the size of your organization. By involving all your staff you let them become more customer oriented day by day, whilst doing business as usual.

Paolo Fabrizio ✔ Social Customer Service I Author I Trainer I Speaker [ITA ENG SPA]

When you are faced with inadequate human resources in retail, it is tempting to look only at resource allocation (scheduling) and operational efficiency (how can we do more with less?). However, one of the most useful ways to approach the challenge is to flip the question. Instead of asking “how can I fit the team to the workload?”, ask “how can I fit the workload to the team?”. While great customer experiences may require more labor on the front end, they tend to require significantly less labor overall. Every time you reduce friction in the customer journey, empower employees to solve issues in real-time, or prevent service issues from occurring or escalating, you are creating happier customers and minimizing the time your team spends resolving issues instead of creating experiences. When facing retail labor shortages, work the problem from both sides, because a frictionless, customer journey that gets it right the first time is one of the best ways to make any customer-facing team more efficient and effective.

Adam ToporekCustomer Service Expert, Keynote Speaker, and Master Trainer | Rock your socks off presentations that are engaging, dynamic, and immediately actionable!

It is not a question of enough resources. It is more a question of the right resources. Kip Tindell of the Container Store talks about wanting one great person instead of three good ones. Other top companies say the same thing. The great employees give you higher productivity, greater customer experience and satisfaction, and lower turnover than good ones. You can pay them more, and still come out ahead. You also need a strong service culture to support the great employees, otherwise it won’t work.

Dr. Moshe DavidowService2Profit-Improving Your Business Performance | Customer Centricity, Service Quality+Internal, Complaint Handling Adjunct Lecturer at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology Editor at Journal of Creating Value Lecturer in Marketing and Services

To sum it up…

Whether you have a large or small staff, the key is to choose the right person or persons to be in charge of your CX and keep them in close contact with you so that you can work with them to monitor customer traffic and needs. Make sure everyone from top to bottom is on the same page (ie providing the BEST possible sevice). Keep your employees well-trained and motivatied. View your CX team as your main investment and don’t skimp on showing them how much you appreciate them!

Abraham Venismach
 

Owner/Partner, Customer Service Professional Network 200K+

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