Originally written for Hacker Noon on Medium.
Focus on the experience your shoppers are having, and most everything else will be ok
Nine words are all it took.
“We would be happy to exchange those for you.”
Nine words, and I became a customer for life.
Nine words and the team at Mugsy Jeans turned me into a fan, a customer advocate and most importantly, a repeat buyer.
They didn’t have to do what they did. The pants I purchased were over 18 months old. They’d been worn extensively and had ripped in an area where jeans tend to fall apart.
But they did it anyway and became a perfect example of how customer service makes all the difference in building and growing great retail businesses.
This is not a paid post for Mugsy Jeans, I do not work with them, nor do I have any affiliation with them outside of purchasing from them. That being said, they make the most comfortable jeans I have ever worn, and you’d be wise to go check them out. mugsyjeans.com
The story that retail is dying is a popular one these days. With tales of store closings, bankruptcies, and half-empty malls, we’ve whipped the general public into a frenzy, with an
Amazon led doom happening on all fronts.
Retail isn’t dying.
The only thing Amazon ( and many others ) have contributed to is upping consumer expectations, making it harder for poorly run, over-leveraged, generic retailers, who uniformly provide terrible customer service, to stay in business.
The real truth here is that businesses who sell their own products, provide exceptional customer service and run their companies with a modicum of sanity are doing just fine and, in many cases thriving.
I don’t know how well Mugsy Jeans is doing, but what’s clear is that they’re doing two of those three things exceptionally well, giving me faith that they’re in this for the long haul and in a way that makes them sound returns.
The Case For Great Customer Service
With a handful of clients in the eCommerce space, I’ve been on a tear lately with pushing them to up their customer service game. The results have been fantastic.
Creates loyalty and word of mouth advertising
Loyalty keeps people coming back, keeps shoppers on the lookout for what else you may have to offer and curious when new products come to market.
Word of mouth advertising is every marketer’s dream. It’s hands down the most effective way to drive new customers ( we trust recommendations from our friends ) and costs virtually nothing.
Trust means launching new products or product categories and instantly having credibility. Trust means not having to offer substantial discounts to get people in the door. Trust means that when there is an issue ( shit happens ), you’ll get the benefit of the doubt and the chance to make it right.
Motivates your team
We inherently care about other people and receive satisfaction from bringing joy to others. Would you rather work for a company dedicated to deceiving and taking advantage of people or for an organization devoted to bringing delight to everyone who walks through the door?
Crafts your marketing story
Companies with exceptional customer service have no end to great stories to tell; each one focused on excellent outcomes for their customers. Stories that are instantly relatable and desirable to new consumers coming across the brand.
How Can You Get Started
Customer service isn’t just about offering returns long after the sell date.
Ask yourself the following questions.
Have I taken every opportunity in my sales process to make the customer feel special?
This doesn’t have to take massive time or money. When you’re just starting, write thank you notes and include them in the package for every sale. Send personal emails, include your phone number and email and encourage customers to reach out.
Do you stand behind your products?
Money back, no questions asked guarantees bring fear to most retailers. It costs money to provide return shipping; refunds are a pain in the ass. It’s a path to theft. All of those things are true, and yet I’d ask you to weigh that against the value of believing in your product so much that you can make such an offer that you are so customer-centric that you will take the hit if they aren’t happy. But, again, this is about trust, and the more people trust you, the more they’ll buy from you.
Your goal as a retailer is to figure out how to put your customers above yourself, satisfy their needs and wow them at every opportunity.
Make those customers fans and lifetime shoppers and watch how it becomes that much easier to grow a great business.
If you’d like to weigh in what I’ve written, shoot the shit or if I can help out in any way with writing words, building better stores or helping refine your messaging or strategy, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter.