The times are changing and the retail sector is facing a lot of challenges from online stores. This is the time to up the game and win the hearts of customers and convince them to open their purses.
“We make sure to greet the customer with a smile first and then ask them about their needs and wants. We assign an executive to show customers around the showroom and also explain them about the products. We give them various options regarding patterns and materials, all according to their budget and requirement.”
MD, AP Beautiful Homes, Karnataka.
Providing a top-of-the-shelf experience at the store for your customers with well-trained staff and a pleasant ambience goes a long way in increasing footfalls and your profits. You should keep in mind that a customer walking into your store would have made several visits to other establishments and checked the options for various mattresses and prices online. A study has found that nearly 73 percent of customers would have used multiple options before deciding to make a purchase.
At the store, you should ensure that every employee is responsible and cares for the customer, as the customer comes first. In the majority of the cases, a customer would not have a specific product in mind and that is when the staff should ask him relevant questions to arrive at the best options available for the customer. If necessary, the employee should go out of his way to consult a colleague, refer to the catalogues and guide the customer to the right place and product, ensuring that the customer experience converts into a purchase.
To ensure this, all employees should be updated about the products and services being offered at the store. If the latest product is being stocked, all the staff should be given detailed information, the uniqueness of the product and the price. This is to ensure that they are not ill-informed when a customer walks in.
Sohail Ahmed, Managing Director of AP Beautiful Homes, Karnataka Hardware and Paints, says, “We make sure to greet the customer first and then ask them about their needs and wants. We assign an executive to show customers around the showroom and also explain to them about the products. We give them various options regarding patterns
and materials, all according to their budget and requirement.”
Make sure that you personalise a customer’s experience. A study has found that 80 per cent of customers are likely to buy again from your store if you offer them some type of personal experience. Get to know your customers and understand their preferences. You can provide customers with loyalty packages and offer them suitable rewards for repeat purchases.
MAKE A NOTE OF YOUR CUSTOMER’S BIRTHDAY AND SEND HIM A MESSAGE OR A GIFT, IF HE REALLY DESERVES IT, TO CONTINUE WITH THE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP THAT YOU HAVE ESTABLISHED.
The staff should explain what are the different types of foams that are used in making a mattress, and how based on the quality and kind of foam, the cost varies. For instance other than memory foam there are Gel Memory Foam, PU Foam, and H R Foam (High Resiliency).
For a customer, who is about to shift from the cotton bed of the olden times to the new-age mattress, the cost could be a factor. The customer should be made to understand that mattresses can be expensive as they last a long time and contain a large amount of expensive materials, such as memory foam and pocket springs. The longevity of the mattress is also a factor that determines the cost. For example, a mattress made out of memory foam could last many years and also costs more.
The customer should be made to realise that the mattress is one of the most important items in the house, and is also the most used and that he should invest in a good one that lasts long and ensures a peaceful sleep, night after night.
He should be told that memory foam adjusts to the shape of the body and takes the heat away allowing one to sleep peacefully. Since one sinks into the memory foam mattress, even if his/her partner gets up in the night, the sleeper is not disturbed as the movement on the other side of the bed is not transferred to his side of the mattress. The memory
foam mattress also allows more comfortable sleep as the contact points on the bed and the body are higher.
Memory foam also helps in getting rid of body pains. Those suffering from arthritis and joint pains, especially the elderly, can benefit largely as the foam reduces the impact on the body.
The thumb rule is that the spring mattresses cost the lowest, probably around Rs 10,000 while the memory foam is the most expensive, around Rs 30,000. The cost also keeps going up with any addition of natural materials to the making of the mattress. Also, mattresses can be custom-made to suit one’s needs and temperature. If one lives in a cold climate, the use of more synthetic material keeps the bed warm. If more natural and breathable materials are used, like cotton, it can have a cooling effect on the body.
|| Information on cleaning and maintenance
Some customers could also be worried that after investing a considerable amount of money on a mattress what happens if they have to shift their house? The staff should tell them that shifting mattresses is easy and the mattress only needs to be put straight, and not flat, in the moving vehicle. All they need is a large plastic sheet to cover the mattress to avoid any scratches and damage. Also, most of the movers and packers are quite deft in handling mattresses.
The customers should be told that the best way to clean the mattress is to air it out and expose it to the sun for a few hours on a clear, cloudless day. They should also change the sheets regularly and vacuum clean the mattress once every few months. One of the best methods to get rid of the odour from the mattress is to spread baking soda on top, let it sit for a few minutes and then vacuum clean it. There are also professional mattress cleaners, whose services too can be sought.
Coming back to treating customers on the store floor, you should always focus on the customer in front of you. You might have a customer on call and other staff demanding your attention but always attend to the customer who is on the spot.
If you have to hand over the customer to another staffer, introduce them both by name, which will form a bond. Sohail Ahmed says, “I feel customer experience is a real necessity in all kinds of retail. This has helped my company get a lot of goodwill in terms of Google reviews, recommendations and in retaining customers.”
ENHANCE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE OF BUYING
In the online business age, it can be sometimes difficult for brick-and-mortar retailers to compete with the convenience of e-commerce websites. However, nothing can compete with an experiential buying experience. To focus on ways to create an incredible in-store experience. While all of them may take time to implement, putting them into practice will certainly transform consumers’ in-store experience for them to choose your brand.
1. Invest in training the staff
- In-store experiences start with your showroom sales representatives. Beyond the appearance of the store and the technologies used to optimize it, investing in training them to activate and best utilize the customer touchpoints is incredibly important to the success of your brand.
- Have confidence and conviction in your product when you are introducing it to the consumer.
- Understand your product and its advantages completely before you sell it. Consumers will depend on you and your salesperson to get the best product since they wouldn’t be having any information on the product.
- The staff should never say “I don’t know” to a customer. Even if they don’t have the information at hand, they should look it up and make efforts to provide the answers that customers need.
- Always smile and be pleasant to your customers. Comfort them by giving them space to evaluate and choose the product for them. The showroom staff can advise the consumer on the best product suited for them. However, the suggestion should not be forced. No one wants to deal with a person who is grumpy and looks down on him. A study has found that waitresses at restaurants who smiled more got more tips than those who smiled lesser.
2. Add a service layer to the products you sell
- Offer a regular after-sales service, either free or at a customised and subsidised cost. If not regular, you may also introduce periodic service events for a limited time. It’s this extra layer of customer service that goes a long way to attract customers back into your store.
- You should aim at getting word-of-mouth publicity from customers, which is the most effective way of advertising your store. It is found that people are influenced by someone they trust. A customer is most likely to visit your store and make a purchase if he has already been told about it by a friend or a family member. How does one ensure that? By providing the best in-store experience for the customer.
- Promotions, gifts and discounts are a great way to build customer loyalty for your sleep boutique. But you should not make promises that you cannot keep. Be honest and upfront about what you can offer. If you have forgotten to mention the expiry date on a discount coupon, honour it. Unfulfilled promises can only ruin your store’s reputation.
ALONG WITH THE DÉCOR AND ARRANGING MATTRESSES IN AN ATTRACTIVE AND PRESENTABLE MANNER, CUSTOMER DEMAND A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF SERVICE AT A STORE.
Make a note of your customer’s birthday and send him a message or a gift, if you consider him valuable, to continue with the personal relationship that you established.
Always make that extra effort and go the extra mile to make the in-store experience for your customer special. Here is what Sharath, an employee at Wakefit Furniture Store, says about how they treat their customers. “We have executives to invite customers in and then we ask them their requirements — what kind of bed they have, what type of mattress
they are looking for, any particular preferences, etc. If not, we show them different types of mattresses that we deal with, for example, memory foam, latex etc.”
If a mattress asked by the customer is not available, ask him to leave his number and email ID to let you contact him once the product arrives. Even if the customer does not purchase the mattress, he will always remember the service your staff offered and the effort they put in to get him the mattress. The contact information of customers is important so that your store staff can keep in constant touch with the customers and also get their feedback, which will help in improving the services being offered at your store.
Sharath says, “We make sure customer experience and service is not cut down at any point irrespective of the size of the order or even if they do not purchase anything from us.”
Learn to take customers seriously and make them feel appreciated. You may think that a customer’s question is ridiculous, but it is important to them. If customers think that they are being laughed at or looked down upon, they will not make a purchase. Customers are very sensitive and they know whether you care about them or not. Most purchases are more emotional than logical. The more you know your customers, the better it is for you to anticipate their specific need for a mattress.
When the customer is going through the store, ask your staff not to hover around him and irritate him. Your employees can keep themselves busy straightening the shelves and putting things away, at the same time keeping an eye on the customer. When he starts looking around for help, your staff should present themselves immediately and offer help. Ask the staff not to be overenthusiastic and offer information that a customer does not seek. Answer only the questions that were asked.
Not all customers are alike, and there could be some who are demanding. The staff should learn to be patient and deal with them. Also, there are chances that a customer may have an issue with a product. It is important that even such customers are made to feel important and treated well.
The staff should take down a customer’s complaint in detail and give him a timeline to address his concerns. If you have committed to exchange a mattress and it is taking time to arrive, you should keep the customer updated about the status and call him immediately after it arrives.
Sharath, an employee at Wakefit Furniture Store, says “I believe, customer experience matters a lot for retail businesses because the products alone are not enough for repeat business with them. People remember how they were treated at a store and that’s how we get references and we retain our customers.”
CUSTOMERS ARE VERY SENSITIVE AND THEY KNOW WHETHER YOU CARE ABOUT THEM OR NOT. MOST PURCHASES ARE EMOTIONAL THAN LOGICAL. LEARN TO TAKE CUSTOMERS SERIOUSLY AND MAKE THEM FEEL APPRECIATED.
As the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic still lingers in the minds of the people, it is important for employees to practice appropriate safety and healthy behaviour. This will give confidence to customers to buy their product of choice.
The retailer should offer sanitiser as soon as customers walk in and check their temperature to make them feel comfortable and give them confidence that the store is a safe place for them to shop. This also gives an impression to the customer that your store is being run professionally with all Covid-19 norms in place.
The employees, at no point in time, should come in physical contact with the customer, and strictly maintain distance. As has been the practice now with most of the stores, all employees should have had at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The age-old saying, “The Customer is King”, holds good now and future too. Hear it from Lakshmi Narayan from Living Walls Furnishing who says, “This has benefited me a lot. The customer service I give makes my customers come back to my store and purchase again. According to my opinion, not treating customers right would be a huge loss for retailers/ businesses.”
Customer expectation has gone up with upgraded services being offered at all mattress stores. They demand a certain, minimum amount of service at a store. Along with the décor and arranging mattresses in an attractive and presentable manner, the staff too play an important role.
Last but not least. Make the billing process smooth and hassle-free. Ensure that cash, card, app, and net banking payment options are available at your store. Happy marketing.