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A view of the industry through the eyes of independent and chain retailers.

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42 Great Ideas To "Wow" Your Customers

Suggestions for your store and staff.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (May 21, 2012)

We live in an instant gratification world -- we all want it now. We're all time-starved, with too many things on our "to do" lists. You want to improve your store, you need to improve your store, it's just that you're so busy. We understand. That's why we're going to help you keep it simple with our 42 Great Ideas to WOW Your Customers. Why 42? Because most people expect a nice round number, so we decided to throw you a curve ball.  So, print this article and put it in a place where you'll be sure to see it every morning, and get ready to WOW!

Great Service Begins with the Boss

1. Walk through the store each day before you open for business. Take a pad of paper and a pen and note what needs to be fixed before you open.

2.  Schedule yourself to work at the customer service counter, checkout counter, stock shelves, and clean the bathrooms. Once a month is okay, once a week is better.

3. Spend a day a month personally conducting exit interviews to find out why customers leave your store empty handed.

4. Make sure that all associates look and act like professionals. Write, explain, and reinforce your dress code policy. No more sloppy jeans or visible undergarments, thank you very much.

5. Continue your education. Attend the business seminars offered at each of the other trade shows you go to each year. Become a graduate of the "In Your Car College of Business Knowledge": pick up CDs of the classes you miss, and listen to them on your way to work.

On the Outside, Looking In

6. Check the bulbs in your exterior signage every day to make sure all are in working order.

7. The store front needs to sparkle and sizzle with excitement! Windows need to be clean.  Window displays, and/or product visible through the windows should be exciting to look at, and well merchandised.

8. If you have an outside entrance, considering adding a ramp to the front of your store.  Disabled customers and parents with strollers will be eternally grateful.

Inside the Store

9. Station a Greeter, ala Wal-Mart, at the front of your store on busy days.  The mere presence of the greeter will delight most customers. The greeter can offer a cart or a basket, or tell customers about in-store goings-on they wonít want to miss.

10. In America, 99% of customers enter a store and turn to the right. This makes the area just inside the store, and to the right, an important merchandising area. The wall at the front right is key as well, itís called a Power Wall. Use this highly visible space to showcase new items; tell product stories; and to display high-demand, high-profit items.

11. Place Merchandise Outposts -- displays of product near the aisles -- to entice customers to pick up product on impulse. Use Outposts throughout your store to cross merchandise; to introduce new merchandise; and to feature highly profitable merchandise.

12. Create a monthly End Feature Planning Calendar. End features are high impulse areas that need to be merchandised with current items that are related to adjacent merchandise. They must also be well-signed. NEVER use an end feature as a miscellaneous catch-all.

13. Even if your sales floor is on the small side, consider investing in a few shopping carts. Keep your carts clean and in good repair. When itís raining or snowing, dry them off before allowing customers to use them. Clean the carts in front of customers -- it reminds them that the little things are important to you.

14. If you see a customer trying to shop with her hands full of merchandise, get her a cart or a basket ASAP! Customers will spend 25% more, and stay in the store up to 15 minutes longer, when they can shop "hands free."

15. Enlarge the font size on signing, and on price tickets, so customers can easily read them.

16. Place a basket of reading glasses in a variety of magnifications at your checkout and service counters so customers who forget their glasses can shop with ease.

17. Offer free call-in service to answer customers' questions about your product and services. Advertise it -- make it a big deal!  Continuously let customers know you are there to help them when they need you.

In-Store Communication

18. Take your store blueprint (or create one on your computer if you donít have one) to a copy shop and blow it up to poster size.  Make several copies, and place them in sign holders near the front door, and in key places throughout the store.

19. Hang ads, coupons, circulars or catalogs on a bulletin board, or in a sign holder, near the front of the store for customers who may have missed them. Have extra copies on hand for customers to take with them while they shop.

20. Make a list of this weeks' sale and/or "not-to-be-missed" items and place the list in brochure holders throughout the store. Keep copies at each checkout counter as well.

21. If you run a coupon sale, make sure you have extras at each checkout for customers who donít have them. You want to lose a customer? Tell her she can't have the coupon everyone else has.

22. Hold daily meetings so that associates know what's going on in the store. If you can't do a meeting, then make a daily "Pre-Opening Checklist" of things associates need to know and place it in the lounge or post it near the time clock.

Customer Care

23. Answer the telephone within three rings. And have a specific store greeting everyone must use.

24. Keep the checkout counter, and the area behind it, clean and neat at all times. If you have a sign that reads "Ring bell for service," add one word to make it customer-friendly: "Ring bell for quicker service."

25. The associates working the checkout counters must be the happiest, and most eager-to-help people that you have on your team. How they handle the transaction often determines what customers tell their friends about your store.

26. Make greeting every customer a non-negotiable store policy. Acknowledge every customer you see in the store -- if you come within seven floor tiles (7') of a customer you'd better smile and say hello.

27. Always apologize if the store has made a mistake, has inconvenienced a customer, or if a product is defective. Even if it's not your fault. Then fix the problem. The customer will remember that her problem -- and her feelings -- were important to you.

28. Personally respond to every customer who takes the time to offer a suggestion to help the store, or to complain about something that they didn't like.

Special Services

29. Offer "Curb Service" for those customers who cannot easily leave their cars. Customers call in advance, you handle the transaction over the telephone, and when the customer pulls up, you take the product out to their car. This is a wonderful service for disabled customers, elderly customers, and new parents.

30. Feature your willingness to special order items, and brag about the speed of delivery.

31. Offer to check customers' packages while they shop, and offer to check their coats in the winter.

32. Keep a basket of umbrellas for customers to use to load their cars when it's raining.

The Checkout Counter

33. Your checkout counters must provide enough space for customers to comfortably complete their transaction. Do yours offer enough space for merchandise and the customer's personal items?

34. Stock your checkouts with fun items customers will pick up on impulse; inexpensive child-safe toys mom can buy to keep the kids quiet; and those items customers most frequently forget.

35. The space behind your checkouts is selling space. Create displays that keep customers constantly thinking about the merchandise that you sell in your store.

36. Detail the regular price as well as sale price on the customerís receipt.

37. Turn the cash register screen around so customers can see it.

38. When you have a cashier on duty, but no customers waiting on line, have the cashier stand in front of the counter, waiting to welcome customers to the checkout. This also puts the cashier in the position to help place the customer's product on the counter before ringing the sale.

Getting the Word Out

39. Create a weekly Bag Stuffer that tells customers about something important that is -- or will be -- happening in the store. In spite of the name, do not place them in bags, instead have cashiers personally hand one to every customer.

40. Create a Brag Sheet that lists every service and convenience you offer customers. Include your product lines, specialties, and major vendors. Add your contact information, hours, and directions to the store. Offer one to every customer who enters the store or makes a purchase.

41. Create an advertising campaign that you can play over the storeís intercom system. You can use it when customers are placed on-hold as well.

42. Collect customer testimonials for use in all of your advertising, brochures, and newsletters, on your website, and in-store signing.

To make it even easier for you to WOW your customers, we have a whole bunch of templates to help you out. To get yours, simply drop us an email at info@kizerandbender.com with the word "WOW" in the subject line, and get ready to shake things up!

About the Authors

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and       consultants whose client list reads like a ďWhoís WhoĒ in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place.

KIZER & BENDER recently made Meetings & Conventions Magazine's list of Meeting            Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers; they've also been named "Two of Retailing's Most Influential People." And with good reason: Rich and Georganne are experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and promotion, and everything retail. They are widely referred to as consumer anthropologists because they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today's consumer.

KIZER & BENDER are well known for their unique and intensive consumer research. Any speaker can talk about customers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine. And maybe even a few that you can't! The result of their research is literally straight from the customersí mouth: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers.

KIZER & BENDERís observations are widely featured in the medias, including the ABC News' special report "How Stores Hook You." Their books Jingle Bells, Christmas Sells! and Champagne Strategies on a Beer Budget! have helped thousands improve their bottom line, and their bylined column, "Georganne & Rich on the Road "was twice honored with The American Society of Business Publications Editors Award of Excellence (ASBPE).

Where to find KIZER & BENDER:


103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206, St. Charles, Illinois 60174
Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7 Mobile: 708-347-2682 Fax: 630-513-8098




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