This is a guest post from Clapham Optical, an independent opticians in Southampton, which is also a third generation family business. Things have changed a lot since owner, Nick Clapham’s grandfather first opened the company’s doors and with pressure from big chain stores and online giants, the business feels that delivering exceptional customer service is a must.
Nick’s shares his five top tips on delivering a memorable customer experience, keeping shoppers happy and encouraging repeat business.
Go above and beyond
Work out what a potential customer’s expectations are from your industry, then blow them apart! In the optical industry this isn’t so hard as the big chains don’t set the bar too high. We refer to this as WOW-ing our customers. A few examples of how we WOW are offering good quality tea or coffee, music, complimentary eyewear cleaning kits, making sure we run on time, how clean and up together the store is, uncluttered displays, air conditioning and, a customer favourite, retro games in the waiting area! These sound simple and obvious, but they are unheard of in most opticians.
Under promise and over deliver
This is something I’ve heard talked about a thousand times, but have too often experienced the opposite. It’s all too easy, in an attempt to impress your customers or close a sale, to oversell your products and services, to promise things that aren’t possible. It’s far better to play your cards close to your chest, under promising and then revealing your full offering on delivery. Everyone likes to be surprised and customers loyalty and recommendations will increase.
This is a big one, especially in relation to making product recommendations. In many industries the customer is likely to be fairly uneducated on the finer details and it would be too easy to lose them in jargon or baffle them with science. One trick we see in our industry is dumbing things down too much and giving a customer a choice of three, knowing they will, more often than not, pick the middle one. We always take the time to discover what they need and make a strong recommendation for what suits them best. And we make sure everything works exactly as described.
Learn to apologise
Things will go wrong, it’s inevitable. Dealing with it in the best way possible is what counts. It’s always best to ‘fess up, apologise and explain what has happened. Then you must own the problem. Let the customer know that you will not rest until things are resolved. Give them regular updates. Do not pass the buck or offer excuses. Even if you personally can’t resolve it, you can act on your customers behalf until it gets sorted.
Anticipate the needs of your customers
Be mindful of individual customers wants, needs and preferences and try to remember them for future interactions. This can be in relation to products and services they like, how they take their coffee or anything specific to them. A great example is one lady we see with a severe latex allergy. Now we know this, we remember at each visit and we clear the decks of anything containing latex. This demonstrates that we have her best interests at heart and saves her having to explain every time.
Clapham Optical owner, optician and eyewear stylist
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