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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tobacconist Truths About Customer Service

Donny Muse, CMT Academic Contribution
Certified Master Tobacconist #1915
Tobacconist Truths About Customer Service

As a Tobacconist, everyday we meet, greet and interact with the general public. It is our commitment to the ethos of a Tobacconist that we provide an experience that not only sets ourselves apart from other retail professionals but as well as other customer service specialists. One of our core responsibilities is to ensure that customers in our shops feel like they are our guests and not just another face in a sea of sales.

Proper customer service is crucial to every shop and every tobacconist. In my 10 years in retail, I have found that there are certain truths that must be followed to ensure that a one-time customer becomes and returning guest. Below are 5 truths that every Tobacconist should know to ensure the highest quality experience for their guests.

5. Give Correct and Timely Responses to Customers. When a customer comes to your shop, they expect you to know exactly what they are looking for, whether it is a certain cigar, a cutter and/or a lighter. While it is impossible to know everything, the worst thing you can do is to provide false information in order to make yourself appear informed. Utilizing cigar publications and websites will help fill in holes that you may have concerning certain areas. Customers will forgive you for no knowing something if you are honest about it. Customers also do not want to have to wait a week to see if you have or can get what they want. Having a customer call everyday for a month to see if you have their cigar in is a quick way to lose a customer forever. Being honest will always win a customer over when time or lack of information causes a hiccup.

4. Listen to Your Customers. All too frequently, retail professionals get into a rut and begin making assumptions for their customers. Pushing product that is new or not selling well is a great way to make quick sales but if you have not yet understood a customers tastes and dislikes, you can very well lose their trust for later purchases. Always listen to a customer and push them towards what you know they will enjoy, not just want is on sale. Once you know what your customers like you will be able to pinpoint the right customers for what’s new and what’s on sale.

3. Act like a Person, not a Company. No sale is ever the same and no customer is the same, so neither should be the way you do business. If a customer has a bad experience with a cigar (canoeing, busted wrapper, etc.) don’t just sweep them away under a store policy and act like it never happened. Replacing a cigar may be a way to earn the trust of that customer and make your shop stand apart from other big chain stores. Showing your customers that you relate to them and care about their opinion will endear you to them and increase sales in the long run.

2. Remember Your Customers. Sometimes customers can become apathetic about a business when they feel like they are just another cow in the herd. Customers return to businesses that show interest in them and what they purchase. Remembering a customers name and what they buy the most shows that you take the time to think through what you suggest in a cigar and that the customer has a unique place in the shop. Once you have a customers trust, it will be easier to suggest box purchases on cigars that you suggest to them.

1. Encourage Proper Customer Service in Others. Most shops have more than one employee on a single shift. It is important that every employee show the same passion to inform and serve his or her customers. Even if you give a stellar experience to a customer, that can be all undone by one unsatisfactory experience suffered by a friend of that customer. Tobacconists have to be consistent in their performance and ensure every customer receives the best service. It is a Tobacconists duty to educate ad inform their customers but also to teach their fellow employees.