At The 2018 NAMM Show, Instrumental Music Center (IMC) co-owner Leslie Faltin shared her best tips for creating an outstanding customer experience. Faltin commented that her store had recently received Best Customer Service and Best Sales Staff from Music & Sound Retailer magazine, highlighting that customer service continues to drive her business.
Here are the biggest takeaways from her NAMM U session. (Watch the video for the complete presentation.)
Your Store Is the Stage for the Experience
• Tell your customers they are in the right place. Faltin tells customers, “You’ve called the right place.” It puts them at ease. IMC even has signs that say, “You’ve reached the right place.”
• Your store must be an inspiring place. It should smell nice and serve as an example of good merchandising.
• Use price tags (and avoid haggling). If they’re faced with an inconvenience, today’s customers will usually just go online and buy. Oftentimes, customers would rather text or swipe than talk, so make it easy for them by using price tags.
• Have the right stuff; get rid of the wrong stuff. Faltin follows her accountant Alan Friedman’s advice: “If you’ve had it in your store a year, you’ve already lost as much as it originally cost you … so get rid of it at any price.” If you buy something and it doesn’t sell, don’t beat yourself up; just move it along. IMC donates to schools and hosts rummage sales throughout the year. Get rid of outdated inventory, so you can put something in that space that will sell.
Your Staff Is Your Cast
• Hire for personality. Faltin’s philosophy is that we can teach somebody something, but we can’t necessarily teach somebody to be nice to people or have a friendly, can-do attitude.
• Training, training, training. “We want to mold our staff into what’s needed, so they know what’s important to us,” Faltin said. “Every other week, we have an all-staff training for an hour (including repair technicians), and we talk about a specific topic. We invite our vendors to town to train our staff. We also have off-site training that we send our staff to. Twenty-three employees are coming to The NAMM Show this year. I send them on a treasure hunt to pick three cool products in two different categories (one category they’re familiar with and another they don’t know well). They recap their picks at our all-staff meetings.”
• No commission to create a culture of helping, if it makes sense for your business model. According to Faltin, this lets her team know it’s all about the customer and what serves him or her best.
• Give them a reason to choose your store. Faltin has parties and events in-store and at her home. She wants staff to be loyal and excited to be a part of the team.
Enable Your Cast to Help Your Guests
• Let the phone go. Faltin tells staff to focus on the customer in front of them because that person is priority.
• Be an example. As an owner,Faltin aims to toe the line, as well. Step up and step in when you’re short-staffed.
• Make things simple. Examine your processes and see where your bottlenecks are. Then change them.
• Set up your staff for success. Tell them what you expect. IMC has a mission statement, employee handbook and training modules. She also tells staff she wants three items per invoice and expects them to walk a customer around the store and tell them about useful products. Faltin shared her store’s bucket challenge: If staff gets an average of three items per invoice for two weeks, they can put their hand in the money bucket and pull out some cash (twenties, fifties and hundreds). It’s a cool incentive.
Show Your Guests a Good Time
• Selling happiness. Faltin stated IMC is selling the dream of playing. Customers want to satisfy their dreams, have an opportunity to play, and give their kids that satisfaction and excitement. Faltin remarked that part of selling happiness is letting people know that IMC is their store for all their music needs. IMC has woodwind month, folk month, sheet music and drum month, where it offers specials on those items.
• Rock special orders. Don’t lose the order, and always meet the schedule. Faltin fulfilled a custom drum order shipped directly from a manufacturer to a customer who ordered it in memory of his son.
• Give advice and recommendations—you are their BFF. You’re there to help and offer them recommendations.
• Celebrate with them, and make it memorable. When people have a good time in your store, you should celebrate it. Faltin posts pictures of people who’ve come in her store and have had memorable experiences. IMC offers lots of free events and celebrates whenever it can. Post a picture online. Send thank you cards to customers when they buy something nice. Faltin’s staff writes and sends them.
Deliver a Good Experience
In general, people will tell you that they’ve had a good or bad experience. You can see it through your reviews. Faltin said she gets stopped in the grocery store by people who tell her about their experiences at her store. If you get more wowed customers, you’re going to get more sales.