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PSRO 2007: customer service--critical for survival.

In the world of not just "big box," but "giant box" retailers, service is critical for survival.

That was the message from PSRO 2007 speaker Rob Comeau, a consultant in the scrapbook retailing industry and owner of Santa Clarita, Calif.-based Photo and Scrapbook Solutions, in his opening day presentation, "Customer Connections: Providing Top-Notch Customer Service."

"Most small companies cannot survive trying to compete on price," he said. "Conversely, larger companies can--and could--capture even more market share with better customer service. Scrapbook retailers are in the 'people business.' Connecting with customers is essential for gaining a competitive edge."

Since everyone is hiring from the same pool of candidates, how will you make employees deliver better service, Comeau asked. The answer is to install a culture of service excellence at your location.

"Training, leading by example, empowering employees, and then more training will help make this possible," he said.

Start with the basics. "You know, the easy stuff, like 'Please, thank you, and my pleasure,'" Comeau said. "We all know how and when we are supposed to use these phrases, but do all your employees?

"Be sure to make it fun, and let them know why service is important. Remember, by training employees and publishing standards, you can then hold them accountable for their behavior."

But it's not just employees who need training; you must train your customers as well.

"Let them know service is paramount in your store, and they should expect noticing less than the best from you and your staff," Comeau said. "Remember, they are your best source of information. Let your employees know customer service is not a desk, but the way we treat customers. Raise your level of customer service and sales--and customers will follow."

In "The Softer Side of Digital" session, Kesley Anderson, vice president of scrapbook and craft business development for Lucidiom Inc. Vienna, Va. (www.lucidiom.com), used the Lucidiom E3 profit program--education, environment, and entertainment--to help retailers learn how to create the photo prints and gifts Generation-X women want to give and receive. Through this interactive training session, retailers learned how to entertain their customers and build special events for their stores.

"Around Father's Day, offer promotions for morns to come in with their kids and create special artwork for Dad," Anderson said. "Educate your customers on how easy the projects are to make. Maybe even start a contest around who comes up with the most creative idea."

She demonstrated how to design the right store environment in which women will feel comfortable. Retailers need to focus on seating; colors; private, but open, areas; and a quiet work space. Retailers also need to show customers creative ways to display family memories.

"Remember to keep that eye candy fresh," Anderson said. "Your displays should reflect the seasons and special occasions of the year. For example, in the summer, set up a luau area with sample party and beach-themed templates, cocktail recipe cards, leis, grass skirts, beach towels, and other festive items."

Anderson also used role-playing cards to show retailers how to bundle sales for upselling opportunities. One card read, "I'm about to graduate from college and want to create some photo products to capture my experiences and friendships." The card later listed products to show to the soon-to-be graduate, such as collages and posters, and then bundle the sale with a framing and matting. The card also showed event and class ideas, such as holding a poster-creating party.

PSRO Advisory Board

The following people have been named to the Advisory Board for the Professional Scrapbook Retailers Organization (PSRO), a PMA member association, during PSRO 2007, held in conjunction with PMA 07 in Las Vegas, Nev.: Kesley Anderson, Lucidiom Inc., Vienna, Va.; Brenda Birrell, Pebbles In My Pocket, Orem, Utah; Rob Comeau, Photo and Scrapbook Solutions, Santa Clarita, Calif.; Rich Cordle, Cord Camera Centers Inc., Columbus, Ohio; Shane Cullimore, Crafters Home LLC, Kaysville, Utah; Nancy Kraus, Timeless Treasures, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.; Tamara Lipori, author of A PSRO Guide to Scrapbok Retailing: How to Start, Maintain and Sell a Scrapbook Store; Brian Olmstead, Archivers, Minnetonka, Minn.; Denzil Quick, Ellison, Lake Forest, Calif.; Tracy Quinn, 3M Stationery & Office Supplies, Saint Paul, Minn.; Melody Ross, Chatterbox LLC, Nampa, Idaho; and Jim Thornton, Provocraft, Spanish Fork, Utah. Jeanne Wines-Reed serves as director, and Ted Fox, PMA executive director, serves as PSRO Secretary.
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Author:Pursglove, Sheiela
Publication:PMA Magazine - Connecting the Imaging Communities
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:725
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