It’s a known fact that retail businesses must provide excellent customer service to be successful. Research reveals that 93% of consumers are more likely to return to businesses that provide top-notch customer service than mediocre retail stores. It also reveals that more than 80% of customers may turn to a competitor if in-store service is poor.
The merchandising, the attitude of the sellers, the layout and interior decoration, the general environment play an important role in the store experience. Nonetheless, the quality of your customer service has perhaps the greatest impact on how customers perceive your outlet and the business as a whole.
For this reason, it is essential to constantly try to provide the best customer service and amaze your customers every time they deal with your business and the store. The best news is that staff have full control over the level of your customer service delivery to visiting customers. Therefore, ultimate customer satisfaction is the responsibility of the organization itself.
In this article, I try to look at the differences between a few customer service best practice points and some practical examples of retailers delivering great customer service in the real world.
In the retail industry, in general terms, providing excellent customer service means responding to customers quickly, efficiently and always with a smile. The main components of the strategy may differ from one organization to another, but they are fundamentally similar everywhere in the world.
To discuss some basics, the first action of the staff is to greet the customer appropriately and give them a quick response, whether they have a request, question or problem, showing that they are appreciated and giving the feeling that the organization has placed them all center stage. This first action will immediately put the client at ease and the first pleasant sensations will appear.
Adding a personal touch to your approach by putting your own spin on it can be extremely helpful in putting a client at ease and generating instant interest. Every customer (including you when you are a customer) appreciates individual attention.
A pleasant smile and a few warm remarks can give a human touch to the whole store. For example, instead of pointing and saying “it’s in this aisle”, if the staff member can walk the customer to the location, you are guaranteed to have a repeat customer. In Sri Lanka, the staff of most supermarket chains often provide this type of service.
Providing detailed information to educate your customers is beneficial and helps them make purchasing decisions. By deploying such practices, customers will recognize you as a professional advisor who helps them select the best choice. However, the information provided should always be honest and genuine, and certainly without too much marketing.
Providing details about the “FAB formula” (features, benefits, and advantages) is an extremely effective method of educating customers. However, more emphasis should be placed on perks, as people most often buy perks rather than features or perks. Also, transparency in information is a must and must be accurate.
The merchant must respond instantly to customer feedback, whether it occurs inside the store or after a store visit, whether positive or negative. Nothing will make customers happier than responding to their feedback in a timely manner. This improves trust as any customer will feel that the organization appreciates their feedback.
In fact, negative feedback should be given immediate attention. Sometimes action on these comments can take time. Nevertheless, customers should be informed that their comments, complaints or even praise will be followed up quickly.
If a workable solution cannot be provided instantly, the best course of action is to follow up closely with calls, emails or short messages, until the customer feels satisfied. A follow-up note thanking and appreciating the time taken to provide the feedback can be extremely helpful for the overall customer experience.
In these modern times, customers check online reviews before entering a retail store. Therefore, it is worth continuing to monitor reviews and respond appropriately. However, you have no problem with reviews if you consciously and consistently provide customers with satisfactory service. This is how some organizations get five stars while others don’t.
In today’s retail, return and refund policies play a central role in physical or online stores. These policies must not only be effective but also creative in order to satisfy customers. Most retailers usually practice return and refund policies in various types of transactions. Nonetheless, every retailer knows that this is a double-edged sword that can lead to physical waste if not handled extremely efficiently. Yet in retail there is no alternative.
Return and refund policies can be extremely effective marketing tools if applied carefully. More importantly, the way a customer is treated by staff when requesting a return or refund can be extremely effective in building trust and loyalty. Therefore, staff, whether retail, customer service or back-office staff, must receive effective training on how to respond to such a situation.
Rewarding customers, newcomers or regular customers, in the store is good customer service. It means that you appreciate their patronage and customers appreciate such actions. The reward system is so important that for some retail giants, like Walmart, even a purchase receipt is not required for customers to participate in their reward programs.
It is revealed that the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle) is a certainty in retail. This means that only 20% of your customers represent 80% of your sales. This is why it is important to build customer loyalty in retail. However, some organizations promote their reward system by categorizing customers into different tiers where they can reward repeat customers more generously. Rewarding also means openly declaring that you appreciate their support.
Finally, you need to streamline customer service across the organization and across all channels. To build a successful and lasting relationship, an effective customer experience throughout the process is imperative. Customers, existing or future, believe that service is one of the most important factors in their purchasing decision.
Customer service is no longer simply a delivery of services. It is the customer’s emotional response. Therefore, not only in store but also throughout the process, your reaction to the customer, from marketing to sales to after-sales service and everything in between, is the sustainability and growth of the business.
Customer behavior is changing rapidly and constantly. This includes marketing preferences, shopping habits and information flow approaches. Moreover, consumer demands have increased by leaps and bounds. Therefore, your customer service strategies must also evolve. Finding the best ways to deliver an exceptional customer experience is crucial.