13 ways to keep customers happy

During my five years of retail management experience, I've learned a lot about what makes or breaks a store experience, and a lot of it revolves around customer service.

1. Greet Every Customer

I once greeted a customer that proceeded to tell me how he'd been to five stores and couldn't find the product he needed. I immediately apologized for his inconvenience and showed him where we sold the product. He picked up two, bought some other items, and left in a considerably better mood than he had entered.

2. Offer Assistance

I always asked every customer if they needed assistance. Even if they didn't need assistance, they thanked me for the offer. It created such a positive experience that I'd often see them again. It was a great way to increase sales and the store's customer base.

3. Show, Don't Point

When an employee points down an aisle, it either means they're overworked or lazy and neither makes a good impression on a customer. I always instructed my employees to stop whatever they're doing and help the customer. Stocked shelves don't sell without customers.

4. Recommend Products

At my store, we recommended products in the technology and cosmetic aisles. Customers appreciated the extra attention, and it was a great way to increase sales per customer.

5. Honor Sale Prices

Customers shop retail stores because of the sales. Not honoring a sale can lead to lost present and future sales. For that reason, I always honored the sales ads in my store whether it was a misprint or not.

6. Give Rain Checks

At my store, if we didn't have the item in stock, we offered rain checks. A rain check is instant repeat business and a second chance to make a great impression.

7. Substitute Items

Substitutions were my go-to method before handing out rain checks for sold out items. It made the customers happy because they received a similar item and did not have to make a special trip.

8. Believe the Customer

A lot of my time as a manager was spent handling customer issues. Even if I couldn't help them, I could empathize and believe them. It went a long way towards fostering good customer relations and retaining their future business.

9. Solve Problems Immediately

Customers do not want to be told to come back at a later date, and if they are, they may never return. For that reason, I always handled customer complaints seriously and efficiently.

10. Clean the Bathrooms

Clean bathrooms tell customers that you care, and their comfort is important. For that reason, we deep cleaned our bathrooms once a night and several times during the day.

11. Go Above and Beyond

At my store, we locked the doors at 10 p.m. At 10:03 p.m., a customer knocked on the door. He needed cough medicine for his family. I unlocked the doors. The man thanked me, picked up the medicine and exited the store within five minutes. A week later, I saw him and his wife in the store.

12. Check Out Quickly

A quick checkout tells customers that they can run by the store, pick up one item on their way to work and be out quickly. For that reason, my store implemented a "no line" policy. If there were more than three people in line, we opened another register.

13. Thank the Customer

Thanking a customer for their patronage leaves a subliminal message in the customer's mind to return at a later date. For that reason, I always instructed my cashiers to thank the customers for their patronage and ask them to come again.

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