How to Combine Traditional Customer Service with Modern Retail Selling

Posted on: December 4th, 2014 by Rob Baumhover


HME Retailers,

This week’s blog post comes to us from guest blogger Maria Markusen – VGM Retail’s Director of Operations and Development. Maria highlights three steps that forward-thinking HMEs can follow to combine the traditional duties of their current customer service employees with modern retail selling skills. Read on to learn how to take your CSR employees’ skill-sets to the next level!

Three Steps to Combining Traditional Customer Service Duties with Modern Retail Selling
By Maria Markusen – Director of Operations, VGM Retail

In an ideal HME retail world, every business selling retail products in their showroom would have a dedicated retail sales professional and manager solely focused on retail sales. However, in the real world, the realities of budgets, time, cash flow and other business needs often don’t make that possible. Most of the time, our customer service staff also sell the retail products in our showrooms along with their usual duties.

So, how do we make sure that retail sales are a priority in our business while also taking the best care of our customers? And how do we ensure that our staff has the combined sales and customer service expertise to make that happen? We recommend focusing on three specific areas to build a strong human resource foundation, while taking care of your customers in the best possible way.

Customer Service Blog 1.1

   1. Communicate expectations and assign responsibility
Step one: Review and rewrite the customer service representative job description. When working with these descriptions, ask yourself these questions:

•Do you have a specific section in the description devoted to retail responsibilities and expectations?
•Does the language of your job description combine both sales and customer service?
Here’s an example:
“Inspiring the customer to buy, celebrating the purchase, and creating a lasting positive impression of you, our store, and the purchase.”

In order to assign clear responsibilities for both retail and customer service, designate specific percentages of time to be spent on each. To ensure that employees and managers are both focused on the same set of priorities, review the job description regularly and make sure all employees sign and have an up-to-date copy.

Step two: Define ownership for retail sales and systems. Designate at least one trusted employee or manager responsibility for sales operations and outcomes daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. That associate or manager should have the power and permission to own the communications around retail outcomes and expectations. To help them communicate the goals and performance to the team, create a formal monthly dashboard that measures financial, sales and other key data measurements. The associate or manager should also be trained to effectively communicate expectations and motivate others towards reaching revenue, operational, customer service, and retail goals.

Step three: Create and communicate organizational charts to the entire team. Clear organizational charts show who is responsible for the communication, outcomes and tasks for customer service, purchasing, management and retail sales to name just a few. An organizational chart also defines who an employee will be expected to work with and collaborate with on a regular basis to best deliver on the job description tasks and expectations.

Customer Service Blog 2.1

     2. Create Sales Tracking Tools and Employee Incentive Program
Set and post daily goals for retail sales in a place where all employees will see it. Have each of your sales and customer service representatives record their daily sales activities. Next, create and implement a dual level incentive program that rewards employees for both specific sales goals and for specific customer service scores and outcomes. These incentives should also reward the entire team at least quarterly for the overall incremental profit of the organization. This combination of goal setting, goal communication and a direct reward for outcomes will motivate your entire staff to get excited about your organization’s success.

     3. Set up an On-going Training Program
Having regular training reinforces the roles laid out in the job description, reminds employees about the incentive program and consistently reinforces the organization’s goals. A combination of online individual course work, hands on sales training, role playing and training on specific products provided by vendors should take place at least quarterly to keep employees at their best. The goal is to give employees the tools they need to meet or exceed your goals.

While implementing all of this detail at once may seem overwhelming, try breaking it down into smaller increments, step-by-step. Set goals for when you want to have each step completed by. It’s important to build a solid foundation of clarity, tools and incentives to motivate your staff. With the right foundation, they will be able to provide exquisite customer service with solid sales techniques and help build incremental revenue and profit growth year over year.