Why one New Look customer calls their store a 'Safe Haven'
The New Look store in Banbridge, Northern Ireland may be small, but its ambition to be known for world-class customer service is mighty. Here store manager Michael Baird talks about his teams’ Proud of My Store win and the value of kindness, coaching and extra time with customers on the shop floor.
What prompted you to enter the Proud of My Store competition?
I’m relatively new to New Look and I actually thought this was a fantastic in-house awards scheme, so I decided to share a particular story of really compassionate and sensitive customer service from a member of our staff with the business. I only realised later on that Proud of My Store was something much bigger and UK wide!
Can you tell us a bit more about that customer service experience?
There was something very special about the way our Store Supervisor Danielle supported a customer who was transitioning from one gender to another and making a first visit to buy clothes. It was so thoughtfully managed, making sure an experience that could have been difficult and anxious for this person, was positive, safe and comfortable. Danielle went above and beyond, thinking through every detail of the in-store experience, from advance discussions about which pronouns the customer wanted to use to carefully selecting clothes and private changing room space. This customer has been in touch many times since and they call our store a ‘safe haven’. It’s an act of kindness that has made us a customer for life and it makes me very proud.
You joined the Banbridge store earlier this year. Have you made many changes to the team’s customer strategy?
Wherever I’ve been in my career, customer service has always been my top KPI and I’m forever reminding people that it’s the customer who keeps the store alive. Retail is going through so many changes at the moment, and for physical stores, there has to be more. I think stores are increasingly becoming about the experience, not just selling products but offering advice on how to wear them, and generally becoming a bit of a hub in the community. We’re also very focused on omni-channel at New Look, so we’re working hard to ensure things like click and collect are as seamless as possible for customers coming to the store.
What kind of measures do you see making a difference to the experience of your own customers?
It’s simple things that make all the difference, like spending more time with customers on the shop floor, treating them as a friend and understanding their individual needs. I also don’t believe in staff training. It has to be more about coaching, leading by example and initiatives such as staff buddying schemes. This is what boosts the confidence of team members so they can excel in their roles. We also look at things like language. Positive words and tone of voice are a focus. This makes the customer feel that you genuinely want to help them and it makes a huge difference to their experience.
How did you feel when you heard you were our monthly winner?
It was a real OMG moment! Our jaws genuinely dropped to the floor. Banbridge New Look may be one of the smaller stores in the group, but I want us to be known for the best customer service. I’m so proud that our team has been recognised in this way.