CUSTOMER SERVICE TRAINING
So, what is customer service? It is providing assisting and advising a customer. Everybody does this in a business. What is good customer service? It is when you leave an amazing lasting impression on a customer and they will tell all their friends. How can youprovide this service. Think of the last time you received excellent customer care. What were the things the person did to make you feel special and can you replicate it in your job. We must sell with confidence and lead with integrity and value.
When is the last time you had a good interaction with someone in a customer facing role. When is the last time you had a bad customer service experience? What did the person do right? What did the other person do wrong. Look at your own self. Can you do better?
So firstly confidence. Do you know the product ranges inside out? If not start reading the information leaflets contained on the pack or go to the medicines.ie website and have a look at two of the medicines leaflets per day until you feel confident about selling products. I remember I felt out of my depth when I started working in a pharmacy, so many prescription medications interact with over the counter products and it is important to sell the correct item. If in ANY doubt always check with a pharmacist and don’t wing it! Do you know the product you sell inside out. Ever been asked something and you don’t know the answer. Find out the information and relay the information back to the customer in a timely fashion.
Secondly integrity and value. So maybe a customer has a medical card and you know they have recently become unemployed. It is important to give the customer the best product at the best price. Maybe you have been taking Vitamin D (I have!) and have worked out what Vitamin D product is the best value for money. It is okay to pass this onto a customer. EVERYONE likes to feel they have come out with a great deal after leaving a shop.
As a manager or owner in a business what is the first thing to do is to look at your staff. Are they happy? Are they willing to go the extra mile for the customer? All of us have troubles. Are your staff able to put their worries aside and give the best customer service all day every day? Your manager can’t mend a broken heart or fix a money issue. They can give you a bit of leeway but to practice good customer service means that YOU are responsible for your own mood.
So, it is a Monday morning. The kids didn’t get up in time because you didn’t set your alarm correctly. It is lashing rain and you are running late. You come into the workplace late and you are in fowl form. You are in the negative mode. You walk in and talk about the morning to your colleagues. You bring your colleagues down by doing so. The first customer of the day comes in. Do you think that you are going to be able to give them a good customer experience in this mood?
Now the same scenario, rain, late for work, kids didn’t make it to school on time and you walk into the workplace. But this time you leave your mood at the door. You apologise for being late. You laugh and you start your day. You are now in a positive mood. What will be that customers experience be like if you put your feelings about the morning to the back of your mind.
So, someone had contacted you. In a shop setting you are halfway there. Now how to approach them. Do you smile at them from afar? Do you approach them and ask them if they need help? So, nobody is going to see you smile. You must approach the customer. I personally don’t like being approached as soon as I enter a shop. Let the customer browse the shelves for a little while. Hover nearby fixing a shelf and smile. It won’t work. Instead of saying “Hi there can I help you”, try saying “Hi there, how are you”. Yes, it is a small difference. It is not rude, it is not too pushy, you are letting a person know you are there if they need you.
You are busy putting stock on shelves, you have been told that the shop needs to be date checked and you don’t have time to approach customers, you have too many boxes to put out on the shelves. NO!!!! You make time for each customer, you should make the time to approach them.
So, they approach you. You say hi and smile (even in COVID times, a customer can tell you smile by your eyes). You ACTIVELY listen to their question. What is active listening? It is hearing what they are saying. It is comprehending their need. It is fulfilling the need. And maybe going beyond their need.
In a pharmacy setting you see someone approach you. You say heh there how are you, they tell you their son has a cold. You ask them the age of the child. You sell them a product with pseudoephedrine. Say thanks and complete the transaction. The customer leaves.
Now is this going to be a memorable visit for the customer? No! Will they come back to the shop? Maybe. Now go back. A customer enters a shop, their son has a cold. You actively listen to the customer using the 2WHAM method. What are their symptoms, what medications have been tried already, how long symptoms have been present etc. By actively listening you concentrate on what is being said by the customer. Saying yes, hmmmn and nodding of your head indicates to the customer that you understand what they are being asked. By now you have a better idea of a product to sell. Which leads onto what is best for a customer. Maybe a product with pseudoephedrine isn’t suitable. How many products can you sell to the customer? Tissues, olbas oil, vicks vaporub, a cough bottle, strepsils, vitamin C, echinacea. The list of link sales with the Sudafed is endless.
Now how do you translate the link sale products with the main product. I say “I take vitamin C every day”. By now the customer has built up a rapport and trusts you. By saying studies have shown that Vitamin C can boost your immune system can also influence the sale.
Now it is time to close the sale. A customer has been given a list of products and you have made the sale of Vitamin C. Great! But just before you take the money and give them their change, did you ever say to a customer “Is there anything else you need”? Using the word NEED is important. It is not want. It gives the customer an opportunity to think do they need anything else. 9 out of 10 times they will say no, but by saying this you are giving them the opportunity to remember something else and they may get an extra item and thus provide the company with extra income. They can’t be rude back to this question I have never had anyone say how dare you ask me this. Sometimes it works and a customer buys a third item. You haven’t been pushy (Irish people don’t like that), you have just done your job to the best of your ability.
So, in the above scenario things worked out fine and the customer left satisfied. Another thing you can do is to ask the customer to let you know how it all went and this lets them know that you care about the customer and if there is anything else we can do give us a call or pop into the shop another day. If a customer is happy with the service they have been given they will be more likely to come back to you.
Let’s say there are 2 pharmacies on the street. They both sell the same products for colds and flus and are the same price. There is a chance they will come back to you because they are happy with the service, they got from you the last time they were in. Maybe you seemed kind, knowledgeable and helpful. We need repeat business to sustain the company.
Next is how to deal with the irate angry customer. Sometimes when people are ill, they take it out on you and sometimes no matter what advice you tell them or what you say they are still angry. So how to deal with them? I often think it says more about them as a person and you are just the person that they are taking it out on. Don’t take it personally. Don’t let it ruin your day. If you are wrong take responsibility for the mistake. By apologising to the customer you are not admitting liability. Try active listening. Sometimes a customer just wants to be heard. Say yes and hmmmn and this indicates to the customer that you comprehend what has happened.
Here are a few scenarios. Woman comes back demanding her money back on a product. She was told by another colleague that due to COVID that she wouldn’t be able to return the product. She chances her arm anyway and demands her money back. It has been three weeks ago, and she tells you that she hasn’t had a chance to come in until today. You check and the product – it has obviously been opened and tried. Firstly, you reiterate what your colleague said. She denies it but you remember a note in the diary about this woman the colleague was new and had left a message. She knew there may be trouble ahead of time. Luckily in this instance there is a manager present. She tells you to give the woman credit and she purchases other things. You feel a bit undermined.
HOWEVER do you know that for every bad customer service experience that a customer has they tell 7 people. For every good experience the customer tells no-one and for every excellent experience a person tells three people. And in the age of social media do you want your business slammed by this irate customer. NO!! The customer has left satisfied and although she was angry with you at the start, she has had her need met and leaves reasonably satisfied.
A customer comes to pay for a product and argues that the price on the shelf is €3 more than it should be, she has seen on the internet that it is a certain price. She acts very peculiar and is very sharp with you. She is angry from the start of the transaction and tells you that you don’t know your special offers and why the SEL is wrong. You are having a busy day and a member of staff is sick. You have a line of customers behind her. You check the Instagram post. The product is similar to the one shown in the Instagram post but not the same. She is also giving out about the cost of another product she is buying. You are having difficulty with this person and can feel yourself getting angry back at her.
She is speaking loudly and is making everyone wait. If you feel you can’t deal with her anymore, get another colleague to deal with her. It is okay to ask for help. It is fine to go to another person and ask their advice and get them to deal with the angry customer. Sometimes when they perceive you as being incompetent the best thing to do is to get another person to deal with them. In this scenario the customer did get their €3 off the cost of the product. Again, remember the customer can tell 7 of their friends about their bad experience and that could be 7 people less that will walk into the shop.
Some extra tips on sales. Make sure to be informed on the latest services that the pharmacy is using. Mention to the customer that they could get antibody testing done for example. Or that we do flu vaccination for children. Let the person know that cholesterol testing is done. Tell them that we can deliver to their home.
Another trick is to come from behind the counter and hand a customer the link sale product. If a customer touches a product they are more likely to buy it when it is in their hand. In COVID times I know this is not something that we can do but COVID won’t last forever and it is something to keep in mind.
Another thing to note is some people only want a box of paracetamol. They don’t want to be bombarded with take tissues, olbas oil and strepsils. Some people just want a product and leave. You can tell by body language. With these customers just let them come into the shop and leave, be polite and let them go back to the office after lunch, collect the children from school or whatever. Some people will be more receptive to information. That is fine too! You must use your own judgement with each person and decide how to approach each of them. You must relate genuinely to the needs of others and use emotional intelligence and have genuine authentic empathy with people.
Dealing with change is the only thing that is constant. Who would have thought last year we would be dealing with a pandemic? Business models all over the world have had to adapt to the new normal. Pharmacists will be expected to do consultations over video and phone in the coming months even our elderly customers are getting better with technology.
There is a need for connection with people and our customers may not be able to safely feel able to visit the pharmacy, but you can impact people through video. It is a powerful tool and it is important to be prompt in calling the customer back. Be prepared to discuss with a customer – know what medication they are on lets you be more present. Looking into the lens of the camera just like you would look at them in reality. Keep an eye to the screen also as you can tell a lot from people’s body language.
Show empathy for the customers plight. Emotions can be central to making decisions – they will feel heard and you will have information to help them. You may have heard of mirroring.
Not just copying what mannerisms on screen but take the last three words hey say and speak it back to them. When people hear the last 3 words, they day you are showing active listening and using words with empathy. “It seems like” for example makes you seem more empathetic. Let a customer talk. Sometimes especially with Covid you may be the only person this person will speak to all day. If you have the time take that extra 5 minutes to chat with them. Being friendly and nice to a customer will result in return business.
I hope that the document has been of benefit to you and has given you a few ideas of how to sell products in a more effective way. Every sale counts, no matter how small. Remember you as a customer service assistant in a shop are the first point of contact with a customer. You are representing the face of the company and always do your best for each person. Maybe there are a few tips here that you can take away or maybe you can think up some of your own.
Thanks for reading!