Using Customer Counting Systems To Improve Customer Service – Part 1
Writing about the importance of retail traffic counting to improve sales and also writing about how it can help reduce shortage seem to be incongruent at first glance. How does keeping track of the number of people entering your store have anything to do with efforts to prevent shoplifting or any other criminal activity, i.e. purse snatching, property theft, sexual misconduct and so on? The questions came to my mind as I was preparing to write an article on recent customer service experiences I encountered in recent visits to two different fast food chains. One visit was exceptional and one was the polar opposite. Then I had to consider that I was not only going to explain the tie in between customer counting systems, customer service and the impact on theft deterrence I was also going to toss in the fast food business to retail store owners and operators. I started to question my own sanity. As I considered the mess I was trying to create it dawned on me, it all DOES relate and it makes the fact that I am comparing restaurants to stores makes no difference. Both are service industries and who is being served? Customers are being served, that is who.
The two experiences that led me to this topic started when I had gone to a famous burger restaurant. Someone may be arching their brow in curiosity about which chain I am talking about but I am going to refrain. I like the food and this is not my experience at all of their restaurants. This day was busy and the parking lot was full and the line of cars for the drive though was lengthy. I chose to go inside rather than sit idling for too long. I was able to order in just a few minutes but as I stood waiting I watched the activity behind the counter and the customers waiting with me. Cashiers were chatting with customers who had already placed orders while the people trying to bag orders and get the food were harried and looked anxious. The manager was yelling at cooks and employees asking where orders were and trying to give directions but she seemed to be barely in control, bagging orders herself and barking at staff. On top of this some customers who, like me, were waiting for their food were frazzled. Some customers who ordered after us received their food before us. When I did get to the car with my food I checked the bag before driving off and found I had been shorted a burger. This was a very unpleasant customer service experience. It was clear to me that no planning went into staffing for the day and perhaps retail traffic counting COULD have been a useful tool for this business. I also saw that management as being a part of the problem not managing but rather reacting to situations and not in control.
Now this was the poor example of customer service and I don’t like to dwell on negatives. I would prefer to help a business correct a problem and improve the customer service. As customer service improves sales grow. Bill Bregar, the founder of Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. would agree with me on this point. His background is in investigations and retail Loss Prevention but he knows the value of a great customer service culture. Bill recognizes how it serves to improve sales and will also reduce store theft and that is the reason he supports the use of customer counting systems to track foot traffic. Using that information retailers can plan and schedule much more effectively for future store activity. Sensormatic offers a retail traffic counting sensor that can be added to many existing Sensormatic electronic article surveillance towers. Those retailers that already use Sensormatic security systems will have the added benefit of tracking alarm activity which can aid in theft prevention plans and evaluating alarm response.
I love a good cliff hanger and so I am going to leave one of my own here. If you would like to read about the great customer service experience I had and what was so different about it from the first restaurant you will need to look for Part 2 to this series. This will be particularly important if you want to see how customer counting systems and customer service can be used in your business and grow your sales.
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