With 77% of consumers having recently identified rude customer service as the most bothersome aspect of shopping in brick and mortar stores and another 55% willing to take their business elsewhere due to lack of follow-through from a merchant, it’s fair to say that not all customer service is the same across retail. Keeping this in mind, how can retailers improve upon their customer service standards while strengthening consumer loyalty along the way?
Accepting the reality that customers will – and do – take their business elsewhere due to unsatisfied shopping experiences should be enough of a reason for merchants to want to create standardized customer service standards. After all, how one employee engages with consumers may not be how another employee engages with consumers – yet the expectations of the customers they support typically remain the same. Keeping this in mind, identifying ways to communicate and train your unique store’s customer service standards to your team is essential in strengthening not only store sales but also customer satisfaction. To help, consider the below.
Introduce Customer Service Standards That All Employees Have to Meet
Whether you’re in management, a part-time employee or seasonal help, a customer should not have to alter their expectations of your performance supporting them. From a merchant’s perspective, this means having clear and concise standards in place that all employees are trained to deliver in regard to customer service. From how consumers are greeted to the follow-through of support they receive while shopping in your store to the details in which support a check-out experience when a purchase is being made, every potential interaction of how a customer engages in a store should be identified within a retailer’s customer service expectations.
“Whether you’re in management, a part-time employee or seasonal help, a customer should not have to alter their expectations of your performance supporting them. From a merchant’s perspective, this means having clear and concise standards in place that all employees are trained to deliver on in regard to customer service.”
7 Ways to Standardize Customer Service
Among the ways in which stores can deliver standardized customer service expectations to their team include:
- Introducing a consistent training experience for all new hires that reviews customer service expectations
- Delivering quarterly customer service update training for all team members to be a part of that include interactive experiences that mimic real-life customer scenarios
- Incorporating employee reviews as part of employee management standards that includes a portion that reviews their customer service delivery
- Encouraging customers to share customer service experiences via Yelp or other online review sites, as well as via in-store experiences such as a “Let Us Know” box that allows customers to offer honest feedback on their store experience
- Rewarding employees based on reviews and customer testimonials gained that specifically mention their customer service
- Hanging the standardized customer service expectations in a spot easily and routinely visible for employees to be reminded of these standards
- Providing customer service standards for online experiences that may include email exchange, social media engagement, online review support and more.
Identify Customer Service Standards
The best practices highlighted above are only effective, however, if you have customer service standards actually identified. To help incorporate these into your store efforts, consider the following customer scenarios and then consider how you want your store to best manage them consistently.
- Greeting customers
- Supporting customers as they navigate your store floor
- Engaging with customers to help them explore your inventory and/or services
- Communicating with customers about store details, including but not limited to:
- Product knowledge
- In-store events
- Store newsletter sign-ups
- Social media details
- Sales and promotions
- Community events
- Closing a sale
- Processing a transaction
- Offering insight on how to stay in touch between store visits
- Capturing customer contact details
- Packaging up a purchase
- Thanking a customer for their visit whether they make a purchase or not
- How to say goodbye to customers as they exit your store
Meet and Exceed Customer Expectations
Finally, as you aim to improve upon your customer service standards, also aim to recognize the reality of consumer expectations. Retail is a competitive marketplace and as a result, retailers need to be proactive in not only capturing consumer attention but keeping it.
“As you aim to improve upon your customer service standards, also aim to recognize the reality of consumer expectations. Retail is a competitive marketplace and as a result, retailers need to be proactive in not only capturing consumer attention but keeping it.”
Customer service is no longer about in-store experiences alone, but rather online communication and digital touchpoints that influence customer choices. As a retailer, this means having cohesive store messages, branding and yes – you guessed it – customer service standards identified across all touch points in which customers engage with your business. Collectively, this will translate to improved customer experiences and sales – a winning combination any retailer can be proud of.
About the author:
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder of RetailMinded and a published author. She is a frequent contributor to The Today Show, Forbes, and countless B2B publications. Reyhle is the Spokesperson for American Express’s Small Business Saturday and writes regularly as a retail thought leader for various industry resources and is recognized as a Top 10 retail thought leaders from Vend and a retail “futurist” for IBM. Finally, Reyhle is also the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference.