6 Customer Satisfaction Hacks to Improve Your Customer Service


A life hack is a strategy or technique that helps someone live their life in a more efficient manner. They can be pretty ingenious - like using a can opener to open blister packaging instead of scissors. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could implement some simple strategies and techniques at your store to “hack” your customer satisfaction (ie make your customer more satisfied with little effort on your part)? Well, good news! I’m about to share a list of customer satisfaction hacks I developed while working retail.

Photo: Nick Youngson - Alpha Stock Images

1. Train your sales staff to meet-and-greet.

You’d think that training your staff to be friendly and engaging is so obvious it wouldn’t count as a hack. But if that were the case, I wouldn’t find myself walking into so many stores, wandering around, and then leaving without ever having heard a peep out of anyone. (Or worse - not hearing a peep out of the staff until one of them yells at me for taking a photo of a t-shirt to send to my mom, asking her if she wants me to buy it for her.)

So that said - what does it mean to have your staff meet-and-greet?

You want to teach your staff to engage with every customer that walks into the store within 30 seconds of stepping through the door. You may even want to station a single person to greet at the front. (Have them fold clothes or perform other store maintenance around the front so they don’t intimidate customers.) The greeting should be friendly and warm, while giving your associate the chance to read what level of service the customer is interested in.

“Hi, welcome to [Store name]!” could be enough. They may want to tack on, “Just to let you know [on-going promotion] today!”

After this the sales associate should be taught to either engage in further conversation if the customer appears interested, or to simply say, “Let me know if I can help you find anything!” if the customer doesn’t seem interested.

This one little greeting makes customers feel welcome and lets them know exactly where to go for help, making the overall shopping experience far more satisfying. It also sets up further interactions for salespeople. Rather than forcing your first salesperson to go in cold and ask how they can help, they’ll be going in as the second interaction.

2. Wrap purchases artfully.

One quick and easy way to hack your customer satisfaction is to package all purchases beautifully. Use aesthetically pleasing bags, tissue paper, ribbons, stickers, whatever it takes to wrap up a purchase with care. The goal is twofold:

  • First, wrapping a purchase with care, rather than just tossing it in a bag, shows customers that you care about your goods, and you care about their purchases.

  • Second, it’s a great way to delight customers after they get home. Unwrapping a purchase makes a customer feel like they’ve received a gift.

As a note: do train your staff on how to wrap quickly. If it takes them longer than 30 seconds, the wait can often defeat the excitement of pretty packaging.

3. Train sales staff to be tactfully honest.

“Tactfully honest.” I know - what on earth do I mean by that? It’s actually quite simple, though.

Train your salespeople to care more about making sure that your customers have what they need, rather than training them to sell based on their sales goals. Encourage your staff to be tactfully candid when they think a customer is thinking about purchasing the wrong thing. For instance, if a customer is trying to buy a dress in a size too small, you should teach your staff to put themselves out there and say something like, “That dress runs a bit small - the next size up might be more comfortable for you. Don’t worry, everyone’s had to size up in it.”

While it may seem perilous to put a sale on the line by suggesting something cheaper or different in some way, it’s actually more likely to bring you in a better sale, at the very least, a better future sale. A customer will trust a salesperson they believe has their best interests at heart, and therefore they’re more likely to listen to suggestions that salesperson gives. Once they’re listening, a salesperson is able to upsell other items to go with that original item. As well, ensuring that every customer leaves with the item[s] that actually works for them ensures that they will be satisfied with the purchase and will return to your store in the future.

4. Implement the right technology.

This is perhaps a little bit bigger than your average hack, but ensuring you have the right technology deployed in your store will make a world of difference. And by right technology, I don’t mean all the technology. If your store is not big enough to handle a proper beacon strategy (and you don’t have a marketer who knows how to use beacons well), for instance, don’t implement beacons just because they’re the hot new thing.

Instead, look for technology that complements your current techniques, or would make a process you already run more efficient. Only purchase technology that you have a planned purpose for. This way, the technology will be used, and it will be used in a way that makes a customer’s experience better. Here are a few examples of tech/software that could add to your current strategy:

  • Mobile POS. Mobile POS is great because it frees your associates to carry it around the store, ringing customers on the floor, running searches for items with customers, or ordering items from online for them. In these ways, an mPOS adds to your current sales techniques rather than hampering your sales associates.

  • eReceipts. You have to give your customers receipts, why not give them ones that one get lost in their purse or tossed in the trash. Bonus points if you include information in the digital receipt on how the customer can best use their purchases.

  • Email marketing. Email marketing, when done well, can be used to send customer promotions, fill them in on what’s going on with your brand, and even help them engage with your community.

5. Have sales staff reach out personally to customers outside of the store.

Brooks Brothers has their sales staff send thank you notes to everyone who makes a purchase. As a one-time customer of Brooks Brothers, I was pretty touched. I’m sure the sales associate didn’t remember me - I spent $16 at a store where it’s just about impossible to spend less than at least $80. But it was touching none-the-less that someone had gone to the trouble to look up my sale and take the necessary 60ish seconds to thank me for it.

And while you and your sales associates likely have neither the time nor the money to handwrite thank you notes to everyone, you should make sure that your sales associates are keeping up with regulars or those who make big purchases. This could mean sending thank you notes, but it could also mean sending a condolence card when someone they love passes, or a fruit basket when they’re sick. It could mean sending a congratulatory card when they get a new job or have a baby. Overall, you just want to encourage your salespeople to build meaningful relationships with their customers and to keep them up even when the customer leaves the store.

6. Look for the little extra things.

Hacks are all about looking for the little extra things. So while the rest of the things on this list are general best practices, there will be a lot of little extra things that will apply only to your store. You have to keep your eyes open for good opportunities to delight your customers by going the extra mile. A few examples of opportunities I’ve seen seized:

  • One store in our chain had a customer who hated having to put her purse on the bathroom floor and frequently complained about it. One day, the sales associate who usually helped her actually installed a purse hook, and included a beautifully decorated sign that said that purse hook belonged to the customer. The customer was delighted to the point of taking selfies with the hook.

  • I had a customer who called my Virginia store from Kansas looking for a dress to wear to her sister’s funeral the next day. Apparently our store was the last store in the country to have that dress. She called late in the day and I told that if I was honest, I wasn’t sure it was going to make the overnight shipment in time, but that I would do my best. I also told her I would enclose a note for her to bring into the store to have the exorbitant overnight shipping returned if the dress should not make it in time. I got off the phone and ran to the back to package the dress as quickly as possible. I was able to put it in the FedEx guy’s hands right before he drove away. She got the dress in time and wrote me a really sweet thank you note about it, which I’ve kept to this day.

  • I had one coworker who spent an hour in the dressing room with a woman who had had a really, really bad day, holding her hand while she cried. She could have chosen to simply ignore someone crying in the fitting room, but instead she stayed and comforted her. She appreciated that my coworker had been there for her so much, and became a regular at our store.

So at the end of the day, while there are some general quick-wins stores can implement to “hack” their customer satisfaction, there are tons of little opportunities that pop-up throughout the day at a store. Train your staff to look for those opportunities and give them the freedom to act on those opportunities. Sometimes it’s worth more to your store in the long run to lose a staff member to one customer in the fitting room for an hour.