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Using an Avatar for Customer Service

avatar and customer service

Creating an avatar can be a huge time-savings piece for your business. Not only does it allow more flexibility in who responds, but customers can do the self-service they’re looking for. Below are tips and tricks to get an avatar started on your website.

Your Avatar’s Personality

An avatar is a digital representative or persona. When creating this persona, there are a couple things to keep in mind. Will you avatar be a male or female? What is your avatar’s name? What sort of personality will they have? (Note, you don’t have to create an entire character design). Below are a few examples:

  • Suzy Q is the avatar for Suzi Q Quilting. She is polite and friendly. Suzi will validate a customer’s feelings, but hold firm to a store’s policies. She is cheerful and ends every interaction with “Best wishes on your quilting adventures!”
  • Todd is the avatar for another quilt shop. He is firm, but happy, and interacts with humor (often communicating with jokes and emojis). He doesn’t apologize for not bending policies but he does seek solutions to make the customer happy within company protocols.

Avatar Logisitics

Now that you know what sort of avatar you want for your business, there are a few other pieces to work out.

First, determine what employees you’ll dedicate to responding to customer service requests.

Next, create a standardized email that the decided-upon employees can have access to.

Finally, to streamline even further, track responses in a document and create email templates of common responses to frequently asked questions.

Inspiration for this post came from “Consistent Customer Service” by Gwen Bortner published in the October 2021 issue of American Quilt Retailer.

Wait, There’s More!

Interested in a FREE AQR Meetup? Well you’re in luck!

Next Thursday, December 16 at noon CST you can find out what’s on the radar for AQR and AQR Academy in 2022. You’ll also get tips on how to finish 2021 off strong.

Register for the Zoom event here prior to attending. All are welcome (and we’re interested in hearing what you want next year as well)!


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Customer Complaints

Complaints and customer service

We all know that with having customers inevitably complaints will come. Brush up on your customer service skills to turn customer dissatisfaction into a positive experience.

Statistics about Complaints

Did you know that a customer who has a positive experience after a complaint will outspend a the average customer? That’s because this customer now has higher confidence with your business.

Another thing to note is 93 percent of customers are more likely to return and shop with a business if the business offers excellent customer service.

With that in mind, check out this 8-Step process of addressing customer concerns.

8-Step Process

  1. Thank them. Recognize the customer is spending time to inform you of their dissatisfaction instead of taking to social media or telling their friends.
  2. Do you have the authority to help with their request? If not, get someone who can. Nobody likes repeating their story twice. (Note to owners, give your employees more power to help customers so you can focus on the larger aspects of running a business.)
  3. Listen to the complaint. The average complaint takes just 45 seconds to tell.
  4. Take notes. Don’t hesitate to be silent; just inform them you’re making notes so you can come to the best solution.
  5. Ask more questions to clarify. This will help to calm your customer further.
  6. Ask what would they like to make them happy. It’s bold, but you’ll be surprised by the answers you receive. Some customers won’t be expecting much at all.
  7. Act on it. Don’t tell your customer that what you’re doing is an exception, that will hurt more than it will help.
  8. Thank your customers again.

Inspiration for this post comes from “Thanks for Your Complaint,” by Tom Shay published in the October 2021 Issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Managing through the Coronavirus

Managing

The nation is in varying stages of managing the coronavirus. Check out these five steps to make sure your business is ready for whatever comes its way.

Adapt to the needs

Has your business ever considered a pop up shop? With a second wave of the pandemic likely, consider taking your store on the road with a portable mobile equipped with shop supplies.

Speaking of inventory, we all know masks aren’t going anywhere the remainder of 2020. Make sure you have all the supplies available to keep your community equipped with the proper PPE.

Focus on customer service

Everyone is in differing circumstances right now. It’s more important now more than ever to go the extra mile for the customer. Did someone call requesting a car delivery for their order? Getting questions about why some supplies seem more expensive than others?

Make sure you keep all your customer service requests organized and handled with care. Effectively managing these requests will ensure you keep new customers for life.

Refocus staff

Like many small businesses, keeping your staff employed remains a top priority, which means thinking outside the box. Consider shift work (even if you’ve never done it before) so employees can get orders ready at different times of demand. Also consider getting a work cell phone so staff can text pictures of what fabrics look like.

Communication is key

Simply informing your customer base that you’re open for business isn’t enough. Also inform customers what steps your business has taken to ensure it’s safe to shop. Reach out beyond your typical customer base too; are there restaurants open that need PPE for their employees? Call around and let other small businesses know how you can help.

Managing social content

Some quilt shops have hired a permanent IT person as they don’t see their online presence changing any after the pandemic is through. Facebook live and Instagram may be great for quick sales, but online retail is the best long term option.

The pandemic remains unpredictable, but some things don’t change, and that includes people having time for their craft. By managing effectively, your business can help to fill the need.

Inspiration for this post came from “Managing Through the Coronavirus Pandemic,” by Erin Byrne featured in the June 2020 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Customer service for disgruntled customers

Customer service

Every retail employee has dealt with a disgruntled customer. When service sells, follow these steps to ensure you (and your employees) lead with your best foot forward.

Listen

Listen to your customer even if you think you know what they’re going to say. Listening to your customer’s complaint is therapeutic for them and shows empathy in you. When replying, don’t raise your voice and practice what’s known as the Socratic method. Simply put, the Socratic method asking more questions to clarify your customer’s needs. In the long run, this can save you time and effort when addressing the complaint.

Don’t take it personal

Remember, what the customer is upset about is the business, not you. This will help you remain calm since getting angry never helps any situation. Assuming all your customers are watching will help hold you to these standards. By not taking the complaint personal, you’ll also know when it’s fair to give in. If the customer had been on the receiving end of a disservice, practicing empathy will help you decide when a compromise is justified.

Follow through

If you say you’re going to give the customer a call back, call them back. Telling them the next steps sets the expectation so your service doesn’t fall short for them again.

It’s just a matter of time before one of your employees will have to help a disgruntled customer. Training them for this situation will ensure they provide top notch service when your business needs it most.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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The Retail Grind

Working retail is the source of dread for many.

And rightfully so, with sales like Black Friday that everyone and their mom takes advantage of, it’s easy to see why so many former-retail employees cringe at the thought.

We’ve all been there, rummaging through piles of picked-through jeans to find our size, just to discover that it’s been sold out for hours from the all-too-blunt employee. Nobody is happy they woke up so early to get to work or take advantage of a deal, but nobody needs the attitude either.

That’s why it’s so important to eliminate that aspect from your business. No matter what you do, make sure that entering your store becomes a source of joy for every shopper.

mall

Find ways to motivate your employees. Post encouraging notes around your shop; in the break room, in the bathroom, by the register.

Bring up the importance of being well mannered and thoughtful in every huddle you have with your team. The employees who make being cheerful with customers their priority will get it, and you’ll likely know who those employees are.

But the employees who sometimes let their guard down will need the reminder! Another plug never hurts.

And if you have an employee who still doesn’t “get it,” keep them off the floor. One of the most important things you can do is ensure that a negative experience with a customer is avoided at all costs.

Think about this the next time you have a negative retail experience; what went wrong? What could have made the situation better? As a manager what would you have done? Asking these questions can help you prepare for any scenario you may encounter in your store.

At the end of the day, remember that the customer is always right and if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all. If you follow these two rules, you’re off to a great customer service start.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Top Notch Customer Service

No matter what your resolution is, for your life or for your business, exceptional customer service should be a priority for your business. Below are some tips to ensure you’re offering the best service you can.

  1. Greet customers with a smile. When selling to strangers, a proper greeting is a must to get that sale. You have 60 seconds to make an impression and every second counts. Not only does it show you’re happy to be there, but you also confirm their time is valuable to you. Starting with a smile can help the conversation that follows.
  2.  Be mindful of pronouns. The most common misused pronoun is “guys.” Instead, ask the customers name and use memory hacks to help you remember it. Whether you associate the name to a friend who has the same one, or with a rhyme that will help trigger your memory, knowing a customers name can go a long way into making them feel appreciated.
  3. Be present. Ask how you can help, and stay within the customer’s sight. If the phone rings during a conversation, the person in front of you takes precedence. If a customer approaches you, stop what you’re doing. At the same time, be mindful of the customers who are consuming too much of your time and honor everyone in the store who may need your assistance.
  4. Go above and beyond. If a customer wants something out of stock, go to the storage room and check your inventory. If that item is still out, offer to order it for the customer. Never use the words “I don’t know,” unless you’re also going to say that you will find out. And no matter how busy you may be, don’t talk about wanting to go on break.
  5. Be tactful. If a card is declined, ask if they would like to use another form of payment. Haste makes waste; spend your time with each customer. Check the items before the customer leaves the store for any damage, and make sure the customer has everything they purchased too. Ask for help when you need it, and don’t forget to smile and thank the customer as they leave your store.

What can often seem as common sense is easy to get lost in the everyday hustle of being a business owner. Start the New Year strong by building and keeping relationships with the people who keep our businesses running.

business conversation


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.