How We Get Good Online Reviews for Our Store?
This guest article was contributed by Will Farrell, Assistant Manager, Lewes, DE Habitat for Humanity ReStore
There is one critically important puzzle piece that may be overlooked on a day to day basis when you are trying to run a thrift store for a non-profit. Simply keeping up a donation pipeline, pricing and processing the merchandise, and taking care of the back end can seem overwhelming sometimes! Although that piece can get overlooked in the shuffle, it is often quite easy to implement, and can take your store to the next level when it comes to online reviews and reputation in the community. That piece is good customer service with a friendly atmosphere, and it will take you so far with so many people!
Keep in mind, whether they are consciously aware of it or not, part of what people pay for during any retail transaction is a positive experience. Some people are naturally gifted in this area because of their inherent personality, and they should be identified and given roles within the operation that play to their strengths. However, training all of your staff and volunteers in a few basic techniques can allow your store to increase customer and donor retention, as well as increase sales.
One thing that may seem obvious, but bears mentioning, is to treat all your customers and donors with kindness and respect. Keep in mind that customers do not have intimate knowledge of your policies and procedures. Many conflicts in the store are born from a lack of understanding a policy and/or not having all of the information. If you take a few extra seconds to calmly explain the context, most situations can be resolved and diffused quickly and easily.
The "atmosphere"of the store can play a huge role as well. Customers and donors should be greeting warmly when they enter the store. Introduce yourself! Establishing a rapport on a first name basis can be the key to a repeat trip to your store, and securing a good review. When possible, try to greet regular shoppers or donors by name. Going to a local place where "everybody knows your name" (the Cheers Effect!) is an attractive prospect and can build your reputation in the community by word of mouth.
Another key is maintaining a responsive and professional online presence, and driving people to like, subscribe, and interact. This may not be as easy for some operations, but devoting time to posting on social media, and responding to questions can make a huge difference in how people perceive your store. Social media has become an integral part of life, for better or worse, and often many people expect a presence even from a thrift store. That way, when your customers do have a positive experience, they know where to go to give you kudos!
In summation, try to provide service based training to your staff and volunteers. Let them know that you do not just provide goods to the community or even just raise money for your non-profit. You are in the service industry, and people will buy in if you can provide a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere where they feel comfortable.