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How to Excel at Customer Service

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“Getting input from everyone in your organization is key. Making everyone feel part of the team goes a long way in creating an environment that is committed to our company’s overall goals. It is important to have a team that isn’t afraid to ask a question or ask for help with certain customers. Things like that show the customer that we genuinely care about getting them into the best footwear not just to the register and out the door.We’ve built our company to value family first and instilling that culture in our business shows in the service we provide. When you are able to create that type of environment, word of mouth becomes your top form of marketing. We love when a customer asks for a specific salesperson. It holds meaning. Leaving a positive impression on a customer goes further than any marketing ad ever will.”

— Andy Vanderloop, Vanderloop Shoes

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“Chiappetta Shoes just relocated to a new building in February of 2023 and tripled our overall size. Other than our amazing retail venue, having a well-educated and motivated sales force has been a recipe for consistency on the floor. With our new location, we added a lot of new staff and implemented a better middle management structure, focusing on the customer experience and keeping our soldiers accountable for our policies. One initiative we’re looking forward to for 2024 is having three new Pedorthic apprentices on the sales floor, helping continue to grow our custom orthotic business and partnerships with local medical professionals. The Pedorthic profession has been a dying trade for years and ABCOP finally got some schools re-certified after about three years of having zero options on the education front. Pedorthics is the golden goose of footwear customer service... I’d love to see a resurgence.”

— Tony Chiappetta, Chiappetta Shoes

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“We got into the business of footwear with the idea of helping people, not selling products. Our store’s orientation is to meet a client’s needs. It can be as simple as someone needing a dress shoe to attend their son’s wedding. The goal is to be comfortable for the entire event from the ceremony through the reception. Another client might have early or mid-stage Parkinson’s which affects their gait and balance. The goal is stability and reducing their chance of tripping.  A third client might have arthritis in the feet or an ankle fusion.  The goal is to ease their gait with appropriate shoes and orthotics.Our advantage is that we have the knowledge and understanding to ascertain what is going on with the client and what their true goal is, even if they cannot elucidate it. The other advantage is our ability to communicate and have empathy with our clients, which is really the foundation of a great retail store.  One of the biggest challenges is that many clients have already researched online about their issues. These clients are just expecting to complete a transaction… The best way to address this is to take our profession seriously and spend time with the customer to evaluate their needs. We need to develop rapport with the customer and gain their trust to sell solutions, not just shoes. They will not get this service online.Another challenge is that most customers are not expecting to receive the level of service that we offer. They often just point out shoes that they want to try on. We want to measure their feet, analyze their gait, and propose shoes that are best for them… The number of return customers is evidence that the care we take and empathy we show are appreciated. Referrals by those happy customers have helped our business grow.”

— Thomas Peterson, Foot Savvy

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“Customers can find shoes anywhere. Our only way to survive and to succeed in this market is to give amazing service. We have also changed our definition of service. We just want our customers to have a place to come, relax, have fun and get great service. We want the same for our employees — show up to work, have fun and make connections with customers. We really let every employee know how important they are to us and the success of the company… Treat your employees like family, in turn strive to have the employees treat the customers like family and build a business that customers can trust and count on.”

— Dave Astobiza, Sole Desire


“Our very limited sales staff is held to very high standards. I learned from an old shoe dog, my grandfather, that the customer comes first. I’ve always driven home ‘If you aren’t educating, you aren’t doing your job.’ That translates to sales staff researching and asking a lot of questions.

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“Great customer service starts with having what the customer asks for. Decades of experience (plus some good hard math) have sharpened our instincts as to what sells and how much of it we should have on hand. And we allow ourselves to make mistakes; otherwise, we’re not trying hard enough to excavate the delta between what works and what doesn’t. These are not commodities we’re selling; fashion is fluid, the line is always moving.So, let’s say that the inventory mix is pretty much okay. Success then falls upon the sales team. Our people have been with us for decades too. They are trained; they know the intricacies of their product offerings. Yet technology shifts the old sit-and-fit paradigm; the brannock gives way to the scanner. Newer insoles and orthotics make their scientific cases. Socks too. All of us need to keep up.It remains a challenge to offer superlative service every day and all the time. My staff is annoyed by me having to remind them to stand when the customer does, and to follow the customers as they walk in their potential purchases, and to ask questions about how they feel and fit. Or to offer a cup of nice cool spring water if it’s a dog day in August. Or to bring out more pairs rather than just retrieve the one.  Or to mention accessories. And the like. But Reyers team does all of that most of the time. And it’s nice to be recognized by our trade magazine. They always get a thrill out of that.”

—Mark Jubelirer, Reyers Shoes


“For us, it all comes down to having the right people leading the shopping experience. Our managers and assistant managers love connecting with customers and take pride in knowing the ins and outs of the products we carry. Additionally, we believe curating the best assortment possible is a critical component of delivering great customer service. Our advantage lies in being 100% employee-owned, and our people take pride in representing Tradehome Shoes.”

—Justin Kehrwald, Tradehome Shoes


“We continue to search for passionate people who love retail and are often working in the shoe business already to add to our team, and we teach them the Brown’s Shoe Fit approach to customer service. Greet - we make the customer feel welcome and act as their tour guide directing them to the right area of the store. Seat - the goal is to get them seated and understand their foot’s needs. Meet - we like to interview them and find out a little about who they are and what they do. Measure Feet - we believe that this is more an interview of the foot to understand its problems and footshape.”

—Greg Augustine, Brown’s Shoe Fit Co.


“We’re in the people business, not the shoe business. One of our key strengths is the personalized experience we provide to each customer. Our knowledgeable and passionate staff takes the time to understand the unique needs of every customer, which emphasizes our commitment to relationship-building alongside finding the perfect fit. This relationship-building extends to the communities we serve. By actively participating in local events and initiatives, we build meaningful connections, fostering trust and loyalty as ‘the best place to go’ for footwear. The only challenge we have in this, then, is one we create ourselves: We set the bar pretty high, and the challenge lies in always meeting those expectations across 13 locations, four states, and three sub-brands (Appalachian Running Company, Shoe Fly Work Zone, and Shoe Fly Kids).”

—Lauren Klapper, Shoe Fly

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