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What do you do? Customer Service

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
We have had so much talk about big-box stores lately. I would like to get constructive in one area that we can all share in one way or another:
Improved customer service.

What do you do to give outstanding customer service and, and as Jeffrey Gitomer's book promotes, maintain not only customer satisfaction, but customer loyalty?

I will start. A small thing easily done:

Answer every e-mail the same day you receive it. I answered a simple customer query today in which the customer stated that she could not find a local framer to just replace glass and spacers. She mentioned that her mother, who passed away a couple of years ago, used to use our shop. A simple thing to write a nice letter. Tonight I received this response:

"Thanks! for the condolences - so nice of you - and I am so glad you are there - nice people not a big CORPORATION...."
 
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johnny

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
If you decide what promises you want to make your customers in your marketing and then make sure that everything you do makes their experience better than your promises made them expect you'll have satisfaction, loyalty, brand building and it works like a compounding interest bank account.
 

Elaine

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Remembering their names.

It is amazing how people react to your remembering their name. There are days that I draw a blank, but more often than not, I do know their name and greet them immediately by name - it makes them smile.

Remember details - how is "susie", how's your mom doing, etc.

It's the "Personal" touch that people seem to be missing.

Elaine
 

FrameMakers

PFG, Picture Framing God
Always carry their finished work to their car, and if they refuse, always walk them to the door and hold it open for them. Always tell them "Thank you for your business", I also add "I truly appreciate it".

Dave
 

cjmst3k

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Answer every e-mail the same day you receive it. I answered a simple customer query today in which the customer stated that she could not find a local framer to just replace glass and spacers.
Yes indeed. I just answered an email, and now I have this huge framing order which I'm going to rush-ship! I had no idea how much money those in Nigeria have to spend on my framing!


;)
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
Remembering their names.

It is amazing how people react to your remembering their name. There are days that I draw a blank, but more often than not, I do know their name and greet them immediately by name - it makes them smile.

Remember details - how is "susie", how's your mom doing, etc.

It's the "Personal" touch that people seem to be missing.

Elaine
Any tricks for this? I have a staff, so I need to find a way to help everyone with this. The POS should help, but by the time one has asked for their phone number to look up, the sale is in progress and the name is a bit late.
 

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
...The POS should help, but by the time one has asked for their phone number to look up, the sale is in progress and the name is a bit late.
Actually, the first step of a frame design in my shop is to open the "New Order" screen in the POS. Then ask the phone number, so now we have her name on the screen. The next step is to ask if this new job is to be similar to a previous project, and if so, pull it up and review the previous design's features.

As the new frame design conversation progresses, we place the mats, fillets, mouldings, etc. on the table. Once the tentative samples are placed, within about 20 seconds we can scan them into the POS fields and quote a "trial closing" price and get going in the right direction. All the while, having a very pleasant conversation with her about her new project. No distractions. All of this should take an average of about 10 minutes, unless chatter goes off-topic.

We can quote more prices for various design combinations very quickly, by scanning the samples into the POS.

Quoting an early price completely eliminates spending half an hour (or more) on a $500 gee-whiz design she really loves, only to hear her say "Oh...I thought it might be around $200. Thanks anyway." -- as she scoops up her stuff and scrambles for the door.

Back in the salad days when that used to happen, I thought. "...and she won't even respect me in the morning.":shrug:
 

Tim Hayes.

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I feel that customer service and marketing go hand in hand which is reflected in the rest of this post.

Every guest is immediately welcomed with a brief explanation that we offer custom framing, artwork and custom sized mirrors. In addition we try to make sure that everyone that enters the store leaves with something: a receipt, artwork, a completed framing order, an artist biography sheet or at the very least a business card.


For each customer that we write an order or quote we ask for name, address and phone. One other very important thing is to get their email address. We use in house only, for promotions and such. Pay attention to what comes after the "@" symbol as it can often be an important clue especially if it is a corporate address. You can start the conversation about their work and if there is a need for framing for the business or to spread the word to their fellow employees who also might need framing.

We are located in a "life style" (open air center). The shop has double doors which we keep open as much as possible. We have found that passersby are much more inclined to enter open doors than they are willing to open the doors and walk in. Open doors are just more welcoming. We have a couple of artificial ivy topiaries out front just to set us apart and get people to give a glance inside. Also we have a helium tank and frequently put out our logo'd balloons in front of the store and offer them to children passing by or coming in.

We often have good candy out for customers to enjoy. Once a week we put fresh flowers in the store and as the situation warrants give a flower away here and there. We keep wine in the back and will on occasion offer a half glass to a customer. Provide a couple of comfortable chairs in the gallery with a variety of art and decorating magazines. Often times publishers of home décor mags will send you free copies for distribution. We tape our biz card to the front cover and give the mags away.

In addition we have a dog water bowl out front which has the water changed 2x a day. We offer dog treats to anyone walking by with a dog - the treat is in a small plastic bag stapled to our business card for first timers and just given to the dog for regulars. The bagged one is for later as we also offer one for now.

The area is rather high density so parking is all pay either street or garage. As time permits we check parking meters few doors up and down the street in front of the store and if one expires we put a quarter in and leave a business size card we print in house on the drivers side window by the door handle explaining what we did. We validate garage parking.

When picking up multiple item or large item orders we suggest that customers complete any other errands then drive around front and double park so that we can run their order out and load it in their car. It often makes us the last impression that they have of shopping that day, so make it a good one. I have on occasion provided customers with a quilted moving blanket to pack their car with their completed framed items. Generally for this is done for larger dollar orders, as the blankets cost about $20. On orders of $1,000 or more that’s only 2% and since I don’t generally discount its Deluxe service at minimal cost. In many cases the customer brings the blanket back, sometimes with more framing. Cut a stencil in plain text with your store name or logo on the Wizard and spray paint it on the blanket. It serves to remind them where they got the blanket.

ALL customers are called when their order is ready to let them know it is complete. We compliment how terrific the framing turned out, suggest that as long as they are coming in it would be an opportunity to bring in anything else they may have to frame, and let them know of any current or upcoming promotions. About a week or two after orders are picked up, EVERY customer is mailed a hand written and addressed thank you postcard which mentions an item they had framed and thanking them for their order and business. We note any upcoming promotions and events.

If it is slow someone stands by the front door and greets passersby "Hi, beautiful day isn't it" or something else equally as positive and offers them a business card. When we have promotions we make a brief personal call to our top spending customers identifying ourselves, the shop, thanking them for their continued support/business and explaining the current promotion and offer them the opportunity for a special preview.

If our front doors are not open we help customers by opening doors as then enter AND leave, especially for handicapped people. If we bag items for customers we do not hand it over the counter to them but rather walk around the counter and hand the bag to them at a convenient level and open the door as they depart. In addition we walk around and hand all framed items to customers.

Our store sells art and framing. We only take framing orders at this location, all the work is done at our other store. This makes for some down time. We would rather be writing up orders but that doesn't happen every minute of every day. Many of the "services" listed above are done as time permits but generally all are done everyday as much as possible. We have found that people are pretty understanding of the service if you excuse yourself to help another customer, especially if it was also done to accommodate them as well.


Have a GREAT ‘08

Best,
Tim
 

FramerDave

PFG, Picture Framing God
To add to what Jim suggested with the POS:

Most POS systems will allow you to "flag" a customer so that when their name is looked up, a dialog box will pop up with whatever information you care to put in. Some people use it in what could be considered a negative way, with a message such as "Do not accept checks!" But you'd be better served by using it as a cheat sheet with personalized information, such as artwork preferences, style preferences, a reminder to ask about her kids or recent vacation, etc.

I'm sure some would view this as tacky, but for those of us like me whose memory is not as good as it should be (for names in may case) it can be a great help.
 

David N Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Remembering their names.
Elaine
Any tricks for this? ... The POS should help, but by the time one has asked for their phone number to look up, the sale is in progress and the name is a bit late.
Actually, the first step of a frame design in my shop is to open the "New Order" screen in the POS. Then ask the phone number, so now we have her name on the screen.
I think what Elaine is talking about is when you greet someone by their name. A POS is never going to help you with that until everyone has RFID tags implanted and your POS is connected to an RFID scanner and relays that info to a wireless headset worn by the salespeople. Which could happen, but I hope not.
 

Paul N

In Corner
Great post by Tim.

And David is right: Memorizing the face and names of your repeat customers is a very good habit. Greeting a customer with their name the moment they step in is a major plus.

I am blessed with decent memory and facial association which helps me remember at least 50% of the names of my customers. But then again, my customers number just over a thousand.

I also make a it habit to mention that I read about them / their kids / etc in the local newspaper (not a good idea if they were mentioned in the Police Report section....).
 

Val

PFG, Picture Framing God
One of the beauties of being a small shop, is that I'm the greeter, all of the time! I don't know how it happens, but somehow my brain "takes a picture" of Mrs. Grundy's framing of her great-grandmother's family portrait-frame, and I can conjure it back up, when she needs to match it with her great-grandfather's family portrait. I can still remember what Mr. Jungmeier framed his stock bond that helped him to retire....in the early 80's! How did that happen? I can't remember what (if) I had for breakfast, but I can remember the number of that Victor moulding in 1983!

"Hey, Nick, how's your new baby boy, what's his name - Justin? Ooops...no, Gabriel, like the angel ! Are you getting any sleep?" and "Amy, whatever happened with the art contest we framed Anna's (ack-black-sad-fugly-thing) interrresting drawing for?" or "Mrs. Smith....love your scarf, are you feeling better after your chemo?" ..or..."Here's a bottle of water, and remind me of your name, because I can't remember my own today! Hey, Here's a new picture of my grandboy!"

It's the little things. Fresh flowers. Good light. Comforting but not lazy music. Planter boxes with flowers and tomatoes out front, in the good season. Clean envorinment and that's trying, sometimes, but not too clean...I have a sign that reads "Creative places are seldom tidy"

When I can say "Oh yes, Mrs. Yonkaovitch, we framed your horses in yadda-yadda and the light grey-green mat with this fillet" , and Mrs. Y says "I can't believe you remember that! I'm impressed!!" (and I can't believe I remembered that, either!) POS helps, but I don't have that yet...just my memory, because I care. Other times, I look at them and haven't a clue! And I admit...."You look familiar, remind me what we framed before?" Pull the file forward... Selective remembering?

For a new customer, it's about "This is the most amazing Aboriginy boomerang, how do you think you might want to show it? Would you like some thoughts, I've done a few of these. Horizontal or vertical, depending on which way the paw-prints go...Let's see, looks like the red dots are for (blah-blah) and the black dots are...(etc), and the pawprints leading to the water hole, and signify (on-and-on, because I've done some quick homework..thank you google!)

All my life, my Dad (Val, Sr.) and I would go to the hardware or grocery store and he would strike up a conversation with someone. I'd ask him "How do you know them?" and he'd say he didn't, but his father taught him that we never met a stranger, and to treat every person the way you want to be treated, as a good-old-friend, comforted with respectable familiarity.

Listen, ask, add your two cents that has the authority of knowledge and experience behind it, and then, listen some more. Get your ego out of it.

I believe that's the key.
 

Meghan MacMillan

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
The customer service motto at the shop I model my own after was "We'll paint their toenails if that's what they want."

Jack Mitchell's book Hug Your Customersis a quick read and has good tips (though nothing shocking, and many things most of us here already do, but well written)

To remember names I think of someone the person looks like, whether it's someone I know personally or a movie actor. As the job goes through the process I visualize the person each time I look at the ticket. I do have a moment of deer in headlights panic when someon I don't recognize says "I'm here to pick up" until they say "My wife dropped it off". Phew!

Lately though I don't remember names of people who come in after having had something framed a while ago. Saying "I remember the map you framed for your father-in-law's retirement party but I'm sorry to say I don't remember your last name" makes the point that I at least care.
 

Masterpiece

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Master the mundane:

- Show up to appointments on time
- Answer the phone (Have a phone installed in your bathroom if you're a one-man-shop)
- Return phone calls and emails promptly
- Have frame jobs ready on or before the due date
- Follow up promptly
- Open your store fifteen minutes early and stay fifteen minutes late
- Dress the part, look the part, act the part

And the list goes on ...

Nothing flashy about this list and some of the other ideas mentioned in previous posts. These are all very simple business concepts, yet are tough to come by in businesses today. Many business owners claim that they offer great customer service, but simply don't. Master the basics and you will outshine mediocre competitors. Does your business walk the talk?
 

Rhonda in MT

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
We have always been known for remembering names. It has almost become a contest among our employees to see if we can have the customers work out before they get to the counter. Prior to the days of POS it was easier for me to remember names because we had to write them down. So since I'm not so young anymore I still do that the first time I help a customer, then enter it in the POS. It seems to help. For many things over the years, I've found if you tell your employees what you expect, such as remembering names, they will work on it. Another thing that is easy to forget with the POS is making eye contact, so we stress that,too.
 

Twin2

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I've been doing many of things that others have already mentioned. I think remembering customers' names/personal tidbits of information is certainly a big plus. I have to admit though, sometimes I remember the customers first by what I framed for them rather than by their name.

Being a home-based business, with customers making pre-arranged appointment times, I certainly try to accomodate my customer's schedule as best as possible. When a customer can't come until later in the evening or on a Sunday (times when I usually try not to work), I will try my best to arrange a time that is convenient for my customer. Before Christmas, I had a couple customers who were here until 10:30 pm! I don't make a habit of having late appointment times because, honestly, I can be quite brain-dead at that time of day. However, the few times that I have done it, my customers were very happy that I could accomodate them at that time of day.
 

Grey Owl

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
We have always been known for remembering names.
I have always been taught to remember names. When I first worked in retail department store while I was in high school, (decades ago?) we were taught to read and remember the names on the checks or the department store credit cards. We were also taught word association to remember peoples names.

After a few weeks this one lady came in, and I looked at her and remembered the word association flower garden, so I said "hello Mrs Garden, how are you today?" She laughed and replied, "close..., it is Mrs. Flower".

Word association only works if you remember the right words in the association. ... but in this case, she knew I was trying.
 

couture's gallery

PFG, Picture Framing God
I signed up for a Dale Carnige memory course once, but I forgot to go.
 

Fake Zorro

In Corner
I think what Elaine is talking about is when you greet someone by their name. A POS is never going to help you with that until everyone has RFID tags implanted and your POS is connected to an RFID scanner and relays that info to a wireless headset worn by the salespeople. Which could happen, but I hope not.
David
You use a video camera pointed at the front door attached to a computer with facial recognition software (just ask your local homeland security agent for the software).:D Combine that with fingerprint checking software attached to the door handle and you know who is coming in to your shop.

Years ago people would freak when we answered our 800 number already knowing their name etc. This used an advanced caller ID system.

P.S. I once spent a week learning to parse millions email's per hour looking for "trigger" key words. The class was in Northern VA with VP's from Sprint and unnamed government departments and unnamed contractors.
 

mayos

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
In a day and age where we've been reduced to a number whether it be a social security number, D.L. #, or customer number having someone recognize you and call you by name is the most refreshing thing that happens to most of us in a day. I don't think the only part of it is that you called them by name, but also that you took the time to recognize them, gave them some of your time, and acknowledged them as a human being. You've shown them they mean something to you, they're not just a dollar sign walking in the door. This is something the "big boys" can't accomplish even though they try and try through their affinity cards, etc. This is one of the things a small business can do that a big one can't replicate.

Zig Ziglar's quote rings through here...."You can get everything you want out of life by helping others get what they want out of life."
 

Elaine

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I just have an ability to remember faces, names, details. My husband calls me Cliff Klaben and says I am a wealth of useless information!! Comes in handy when he asks a question and I know the answer - he always asks "how do you know that?" I'm like a sponge, I absorb. There are days that I don't remember the name, but I remember the artwork, and I will have to apologize and say that I am drawing a blank - remind me of your name. The customer always accommodates, and it helps to reinstate the name and face to the brain.

I don't have any tricks, its just something I can do.

Sorry that doesn't help much!

lots of luck

Elaine
 

mayos

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
We're living in a time when a lot of our customer base doesn't have a clue what "customer service" is. In their day to day lives, they never have encountered real customer service as it used to be 20 or 30 years ago. They expect to go into a store and be ignored until they ask for help. I think what ever we can do to make their shopping experience in our stores to be a more personable, rewarding, and fun event will set us apart from the chains. Everything from addressing them by name, accomadating off hours, showing a sincere interest in them, newsletters, and on an on. Another way to provide good customer service is to keep up on technology and the latest techniques so our customers have the benefit of the best we can offer.
 
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