Customer Service Skills To Use When It’s The Last Item In Stock

It’s a retailer’s nightmare. With only one product left in stock, two customers approach and they both want to buy it. If they’re not physically fighting for it, there’s a good chance you can remedy the situation. When fists start to fly, call security and put the product back on display (after they leave the store, of course).

A more cordial battle for the lone item gives you the opportunity to practice great customer service skills. Begin by apologizing for allowing this to happen. Don’t blame weather, shipping, or a former employee. Accept responsibility and follow it with action.

Offer A Substitution

The first step you can take is to offer a similar item that you have in stock at the same price. This works best if the items are very similar and if the substitution costs a little more than the originally desired item. Ideally one of the customers will accept the offer and both will leave the store satisfied with their purchases.

On the off chance that both customers accept the offer and you have two of the substitute items in stock, honor the offer for both customers. The cost difference is well worth it if both customers leave impressed with your customer service skills. Retaining customers is easier than acquiring new ones.

Do What The Airlines Do

Airlines are notorious for overbooking flights. When that happens, it’s essentially the same scenario: two people for one seat. Airlines ask for volunteers to take a later flight in exchange for a travel voucher.

Retailers can do the same thing. Ask one of the customers if they would be willing to let you place the item on back order in exchange for a gift card. In the event that you need to up the ante a little bit, offer to have the item shipped to their home at no additional cost AND give them the gift card. When one customer agrees, follow through on the promise immediately. Have a co-worker place the order and get a confirmation number while you get the gift card and check out the second customer. Give the order confirmation number and the gift card to the volunteer before they leave the store.

Prevent It From Happening Again

The only scenario in which this circumstance could occur is if both customers are in the brick and mortar store at the same time. With the exception of shopping days like Black Friday, that’s highly unlikely. However, to guarantee it never happens again, even on those days, synchronize your online and in-store shopping with a cloud-based POS system. Use the POS to keep track of inventory, too. Bindo’s iPad POS offers online inventory management and a feature that lets you know when you’re running low on a product and gives you the option to create a purchase order.

You can also offer customers the option to buy online and pick up their purchase in the store. With online shopping, technology creates the queue and determines who placed the order first. The same holds true for online shoppers who have the product shipped. This should be motivation to get your online store set up sooner rather than later.

Do everything you can to keep your customers happy. Happy customers return and recommend you to their friends.

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