In the retail industry, there are few things as important as customer service.
Effective customer experience in retail stores may make the difference between consumers patronising your store versus your competitors. It may also determine whether customers purchase once, or whether they return time after time. A strong, tailored approach to customer service is a cornerstone of both sustaining and growing your business, especially in a competitive retail environment amid COVID-19.
However, strong retail customer service isn't always about adhering to the adage that 'the customer is always right'. Figuring out how to ensure great customer service in retail means rising to the occasion to address customer needs and wants — and anticipating what the consumer is going to ask even before they do.
We'll detail the role of customer service in retail, as well as how to enhance the consumer experience across multiple channels. These strategies to improve customer satisfaction and ensure great customer service can help increase your company's visibility, accessibility, retention and loyalty - all of which is more important in a flagging retail environment due to the coronavirus.
The Importance of Customer Service in Retail
Although it's easy to get consumed in your day-to-day operations and ignore providing a top-tier customer experience, the reality for retail businesses is that strong retail customer service should be among your highest priorities.
Strong customer experience in retail can lift your brand to new heights. It can improve how potential customers perceive your brand. For instance, they'll know that their business is important to you, which can make you stand out among competitors who provide the bare minimum. These positive experiences with your retail customer service can also drive positive reviews, which consumers take into account more than ever when making purchasing decisions. Especially as discretionary spending is down amid COVID-19, businesses need to seize every opportunity to rise above their competitors.
Satisfying your patrons doesn't just mean pushing them to make purchases. It also can help ensure customer retention and ongoing loyalty; if you provide satisfying customer service — and better consumer experience than your competitors — customers will return to make additional purchases and become all-important loyalists to your brand. This may not only drive more revenue and grow customer lifetime value but also spur customers to become brand evangelists whose enthusiasm can direct new buyers to your store. Don't forget that word-of-mouth referrals are free — but acquiring customers through things such as advertising or experiences isn't.
In summary, good customer service in retail may:
- Define your brand's values, which can drive new customers to purchase
- Make customers feel valued, which can enable you to stand out from the competition
- Drive positive reviews and increase your brand's profile
- Breed loyalists, who continue to patronise your business and increase customer lifetime value
- Create brand evangelists, who can help you acquire customers for free through word-of-mouth marketing
- Help you telegraph the value you provide during tough economic conditions in which consumer spending is down
Ways to Improve Customer Service
There are many ways for businesses to increase customer service offerings. Some of these depend on implementing cutting-edge tools and technology strategies, while others focus more on human-to-human interaction. A combination of both can position your brand to provide a high-quality experience for your patrons.
To create effective customer service and improve your customer experience, follow these customer service tips:
- Focus on customer support, providing convenient ways to reach you, fast responses to queries or offer real-time service on chat platforms
- Enable your customers to get in touch on multiple channels, particularly on those that your demographic utilizes most (such as social media or over email and contact form)
- Make your policies clear, such as how customers can expect to return or exchange purchases, or how to reach out in the event of defects or damages
- Listen to customer feedback on your products, policies and service, and react dynamically to their suggestions — this includes facing complaints head on
- Make every customer service interaction feel personal to each patron by understanding their needs and creating a solution that leaves them feeling like they've been listened and personally catered to
- Train your staff to provide consistent, top-tier customer experience, whether in person or online
- Understand how your customer's needs, wants and circumstances may have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and react accordingly and sensitively
There's work — and, occasionally, an investment — required to improve your customer experience. However, putting in the time and capital to raise the level of customer service that your retail operation provides can pay dividends.
Learning how to improve customer service in retail may have both short- and long-term benefits. In the immediate, you'll be able to provide a strong experience that delights customers and spurs strong reviews. In the long-term, you'll be able to build brand loyalists, acquire customers via word-of-mouth promotion and increase lifetime customer value — all of which may help your brand thrive.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.