For anyone who has read any of my blogs, you will know that customer service is something that is very important to me. Whether giving it or receiving it - and with the digital age, such as it is now, it is the main thing that make customers visit the old bricks and mortar shops (other than wanting an item now, this very minute - cannot wait two days for it to arrive in the post!) We have all experienced cases of bad customer service, but I like to focus on the positive - and this blog is about what, to my mind, is good (actually, great) customer service.
So, as a shop, other than being polite, what can I give my customers that they can't get on-line, or from another shop?
1) Fitting. Unlike an E-shop, I offer a free fitting service. Yes, you can send items back if they don't fit, and you've bought on-line, but they can't fit for you. There are various bra size calculators out there, that can give a good indication of size, but, like clothes, not all bra's come up exactly the same fit, even in the same size. By knowing how a bra should fit the body, I can not only ensure that someone is wearing the right size, but also the right shape for them - pass things in that they may not have considered from the rack, but fits them perfectly and looks gorgeous. With my shop, it isn't just bra's either. With corsets I explain how they are done up too, both if doing it yourself or if someone is helping you.
2) Service - In my shop, the majority of bra's are not on show - not because I don't want anyone to see them, or because I'm worried about shoplifting, but because part of the service I provide is not only to sell my customers a bra, but to help select it for them. By keeping bra's in their packets, in drawers, they are kept clean, and in pristine condition. It goes back to the old fashioned values of telling the shop-keeper what you want and them getting it for you.
3) Engaging with my customers - I like to chat - who doesn't? And by engaging my customers in conversation, I not only find out about them, but also more about the sorts of clothes that they wear and therefore the sort of underwear that would be most suitable for them. When suggesting an item for a customer after listening to them, that is more often or not what they choose to purchase - because it suits their needs. Likewise I will often ask how they got on with a certain piece if I've heard they have bought it for a specific reason.
4) Remembering names - I use a computer system to keep track of not only my stock but also my sales. I ask for customer names, and can check back against previous purchases etc, should I need to. But likewise, customers love being remembered and having their name used. It makes them feel valued - even if they haven't been for some time.
5) Offering more - Being only a small boutique, I can't stock everything I would like to, but as I've said in my blog about choosing suppliers, I like to be able to offer a service where I can get different sizes/colours or even ranges in for my customers. Giving them big shop choices, with small shop service. On occasion I haven't been able to offer the exact shape that a customer may need, but again, pride myself on knowing who does offer it, and passing the details across.
6) Advice - Now, this is something, that if you have the time, and patience, you can find on-line. There are over 150 lingerie bloggers out there, plus various shops etc offering advice and reviews, which is all very helpful. However, it can't compete with the knowledge of an experienced member of staff advising you on your particular shape and size - regardless of whether big or small. Providing simple solutions to problems that have been bugging you, like straps that dig in, or slide off of your shoulders etc. Unless you know the right question to ask, it is difficult to research the answer – whereas a trained fitter will advise based upon what they see/you say.
7) Knowledge - OK, so this section probably just sums up the previous ones, but knowledge is a big reason to come and visit a shop. Knowledge of the anatomy and how a bra should fit you. Knowledge of what styles, colours, brands etc are available. Knowledge on little things that make life easier and more comfortable. Knowledge on caring for your smalls. Knowledge of you, the customer.
The list that I've given above is something that I believe you get with most independent shops. The department stores are unable to provide some of the area's, but should still cover most of them. If used correctly, the customer service received (along with a cup of tea) should provide you with an unrivaled bra shopping experience, that costs no more than the items you're purchasing. Good customer service normally stays with you, you remember it, and are more likely to return.