A large part of being successful within the convenience industry is being able to provide great customer service. One way many owners fall short is by not understanding how much communication with your customers can affect this service. It is important to learn the common errors that occur and how you can easily improve communication skills for you and your store.
Common Errors When Communicating
Appropriate Language - One of the most common mistakes in communication with customers is conveying the wrong message to a customer. This can happen when an employee uses slang, mumbles, or does not speak directly to the customer. If you cannot understand what a customer is saying, try not to repeat yourself louder or slower. This could offend the customer and it is best to just try using different vocabulary or an overall different way of communicating.
Tone of Voice - Always pay attention to the pitch and volume of your voice. Any negative change in the sound of your voice can change the meaning of your message. These slight differences can cause you to seem rude from the customer’s perspective. Even if a customer has a frustrated tone with you, never alter from sounding kind and patient.
Phone Communication - When you are on the phone, always speak with a pleasant and understanding tone. If a customer calls to ask a question, do not rush them or be short with your responses. Always have a kind and warm attitude, making sure the customer leaves the conversation more likely to come back into the store.
Body Language - Another way many employees miscommunicate with customers is through body movements. Even though you are verbally saying one thing, your movements could be conveying a different message. For instance, if your arms are crossed or you are facing away from a customer when speaking to them, they may think you are uninterested or even angry. Avoid looking bored, uninterested, or panicked. This makes customers feel uneasy and may keep them from returning to your store. Strive for a confident and professional attitude that makes shoppers feel safe and secure during their entire shopping experience.
Tips for Better Customer Interactions
There are a few easy ways to improve interactions with customers:
Smile, say hello to the customer, and ask if there is anything you can help them find when they enter the store.
Make direct eye contact when speaking.
Be interested, friendly, and approachable to make the customer feel welcome.
Leave your food and beverages in the break room.
When you are on the floor, make sure that customers have your full attention.
If someone calls while you are dealing with a customer, politely ask them to hold and finish with the customer you were already helping.
You Store Talks, Too
You may not be aware of what your c-store says to your customers. Having a clean and organized store tells the customer that you care about them and the products that you are selling. Shelves should always be stocked with products that are in the best condition. This means that there should be no rips, dents, or faded colors in the outside packaging. If you notice this at checkout, quickly replace the item with a new one. Having large and clearly labeled signs also tells your customers that you are organized and efficient. Customers are looking and reading to figure out where an item is, to inform themselves about a sale, or to locate a bathroom. When working the register, be aware if a line begins to form in your c-store. Long lines tell the customer that you are not quick and convenient. To fix this, call for another employee to help check out customers to keep in and out times fast.
Overall, you want to make sure that your store and your employees are communicating effectively to provide the best customer experience possible. When customers feel that you are taking the initiative to meet their needs in a kind and professional way, they will be much more likely to return to your store to make repeat purchases. This will help make your c-store more successful long term and improve your customer’s experience, making them more likely to choose your store over the competition.