Great Customer Service Essay

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General Pants' Phil Staub on how to deliver great customer service - My Business
Written by Alex Pirouz Monday, 19 September 2011 08:11

Phil Staub is the executive chairman of General Pants, a retail group which owns Surf, Dive & Ski, Jetty Surf and Billabong, which together operate more than 70 fashion and surf stores nationally. The group employs around 1000 staff and generates over $250 million in annual revenue.

Phil Staub In this Q&A interview with Alex Pirouz, Staub discusses how retail has changed over the years, why customer service is so important, how to quantify and measure service across a company and what to look for when hiring staff to ensure they have great customer service.

Can you briefly describe to us how you started and the path the business has taken you to where you are?

I had always been involved in youth marketing. I used to operate dance parties, night clubs and a restaurant. We bought General Pants 16 years ago when it was a much smaller business, NSW only, and it kind of all made sense because youth marketing is what we did so well. Our general mission and vision has never really changed but how we attack it is always changing due to the market.

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General Pants' Phil Staub on how to deliver great customer service - My Business
Written by Alex Pirouz Monday, 19 September 2011 08:11

How has retail changed in the last five to seven years?

I think the change in the last 5 years has not been as intense as the last two years. The last two years has been a significant change in retail due to the whole social media piece really taking off.

Our entire marketing department has been totally shifted.

So the whole way we approach business has really shifted because not only are we talking to our customers but more importantly our customers are talking to us. So the way we do things when marketing is incredibly different. It’s no longer about preaching to the customers, it’s about listening to what they want and doing just that.

How would you define customer service?

Simple really: just give the customer what they want. It’s about being intuitive and aware of all the different personality types. Some customers like to be left alone till they need help, some want fast service and others do it all by themselves. So as a representative you need to take an intuitive approach and be aware of the signals your customers give you.

How important has that been in your success in the last 16 years?

We are consistently being told by our customers that they really enjoyed the experience they had when they last walked into one of our stores. Customer service is a real differentiator for us. We pay our staff well, they are all on incentives, we have lots of staff functions and provide extensive staff training for all different levels of employment.

This is where we teach them not only about sales, but also awareness, interaction with different styles of people and how to grow as an individual. This ensures staff are happy and motivated, which then reflects on our customer service in store.

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General Pants' Phil Staub on how to deliver great customer service - My Business
Written by Alex Pirouz Monday, 19 September 2011 08:11

When recruiting new staff, how important is it to hire staff that are aligned to your customer service objectives?

It all starts at recruitment. Hire slow and fire fast. If you have the right people with the right attitude and energy that fit what you’re all about, then the job becomes easy to execute and all that is left is refining of the process to continue improving. At the end of the day it all boils down to attitude. You can teach someone how to use the computers within the stores but you can’t teach someone how to have a good attitude.

How do you quantify and measure customer service?

It all goes back to each individual salesperson, we look individuals and the store to see if they are hitting their targets and by that we know…