Growing up I was fortunate enough to occasionally get the opportunity to shop at high end small boutiques. The four of us would dress up, mom, Rose, grandma Liza and I, and go shopping. I remember how good the Customer Service was. There would sometimes be refreshments but the thing that stood out to me was the great service.
I worked in retail my first summer home from college and I tried to emulate what I remembered from those days. Greeting every customer, suggesting other items, all the things that are a part of good customer service. It earned me high accolades and a glowing letter of recommendation from my manager. After college I worked as a Promotional Model and Product Demonstrator in high end retailers and I was always praised for my Customer Service and Marketing skills. I was often asked to come back again and again, sometimes having more work than I could handle.
These days good Customer Service seems like a thing of the past. I don't understand that given the state of our economy. Retailers should be doing all they can to generate repeat business and I think this is especially important for Indie shops that carry handmade items. Not everyone understands the value of handmade so Indie shops need to go above and beyond to educate, acquire and retain customers.
Yesterday I went into two shops that carry handmade items. At the first shop there was no one inside. I looked around for about 5-10 minutes before she returned and realized she was one of the people I had passed standing outside when I came in. Now if it were me I would have acknowledged someone I saw going into my place of business. I would have immediately ended my conversation or whatever it was that was keeping me outside and came in to provide...Customer Service. When she did come in I barely got an acknowledgement. If it were me I would have apologized for neglecting the customer and then tell the potential Customer something about the items in my shop. Let them know a little about the artists, their process and anything I could think of to help make a sale if not now, in the future. The second shop I went into the person was on the phone and while she did end the conversation I still got no Customer Service.
So listen up! If you want me to Shop Local then when I come into your place of business stop eating, texting or doing anything else that tells me you couldn't care less that I'm there. Greet me with an enthusiastic and genuine greeting. And most importantly, Stand Up! If you're an Indie Boutique tell me a little about the artists featured in your shop. Notice the fact that I am wearing handmade jewelry and see that as an opportunity to sell me something handmade because I apparently, am a fan of handmade. Engage me in conversation.
And furthermore, Indie Shops, don't treat me like a leper on Social Networking sites. When you see someone is in your city and they 'like' you or 'follow' you or 'friend' you, embrace them. Invite them to your store. Find a way to engage them. There is nothing in your shop that I can't make myself or find from an indie artist online so you need to give me a reason to come in, buy, come back, and tell my friends. Start providing good Customer Service and you'll be surprised what happens.