What Is Retail Customer Service and Why Does It Matter?
When I was younger, I worked at a retail store. It wasn’t the best job in the world, but it taught me a lot about customer service. At first, I didn’t understand why providing great customer service was so important. But after working there for a while and seeing how happy customers would be when they had a good experience, I realized just how crucial it is. What is retail customer service and why does it matter?
Retail customer service is where customers have direct interactions with businesses. If they have a positive experience, they’re more likely to come back and shop again. On the other hand, if they have a negative experience, not only are they less likely to come back but they might also tell their friends and family about it which can hurt your business even more.
So what is retail customer service exactly? Retail customer service involves creating an enjoyable shopping experience for customers from start to finish. This includes everything from greeting them as soon as they walk in the door to thanking them for their purchase when they leave. In between those two points, you need to provide helpful assistance (without being too pushy), answer any questions they may have, and make sure they have fun while shopping at your store. It sounds like common sense but it’s more than that.
What Is Retail Customer Service?
Retail customer service is all about creating a seamless and enjoyable experience for customers before, during, and after they make a purchase from your store or website. By meeting customer needs in a timely and efficient manner, you can create delightful experiences that will keep them coming back for more.
It’s important to note that the word “retail” is often confused with “offline stores.” However, retail simply refers to the act of selling goods or services to consumers and encompasses both online and offline channels.
No matter what kind of business you have, great customer service is key. In this blog, we’ll go over all the details of how to provide excellent customer support.
What Is the Importance of Retail Customer Service?
Customer service is the lifeblood of retail.
Bain’s study found that businesses that focus on providing great customer service see an increase in revenue of 4-8% when compared to companies that do not focus on customer service.
The experience you provide your customers is one of the most powerful ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. By providing a great experience, you’re helping to drive revenue and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Here are more reasons why having great customer service is important:
- Allows you to assist customers in a proactive manner
- Helps you understand customer pain points and challenges
- Increases the amount of money each customer spends with your business
- Generates positive word-of-mouth about your retail business
Now that the importance of good customer service has been realized, companies should look into the best ways to provide it.
Essential Retail Customer Service Skills
There are some basic customer service and communication skills that are important for any customer service representative, and there are specific skills and traits that are helpful to have in a retail sales position.
We’ll start with general customer service and work our way down to specific skills that employees need to succeed.
1. Communication Skills
They need to actively listen to the consumers’ issues and understandably communicate solutions. Having strong communication skills is important for any job that requires interacting with other people.
If you can’t communicate with people effectively, you won’t be able to help them. Poor communication skills will hinder your ability to assist others.
Your customer service representatives need to be well-versed in the art of communication.
2. Product Knowledge Base
Who likes to have “I can’t help you” as the answer when they ask a question?
Training employees is essential to making sure that they always provide accurate information to shoppers. Providing them with materials they can reference can also help them answer any questions a shopper may have.
It’s so frustrating when you have a problem with a product and the company’s customer service doesn’t seem to care.
You’re not alone in feeling this way.
When people aren’t happy with a business, they often want someone to listen and empathize with them.
When interviewing candidates, make sure to look for people who show a lot of empathy for customers. This is the best way to build good relationships with them.
4. Math Skills
Your staff doesn’t need to be a mathematician.
Your employees need to be able to calculate the cost of a product after applying a discount. Your client is so close to making a purchase, and you want them to be able to complete the transaction.
With today’s technology, your point-of-sale system can most likely tell you the solutions to various math problems. But your sales associate needs to know where to look to find that information.
In times of emergency, you don’t want to be forced to close your shop because the only person trained to handle money is out. Having a plan about who can cover these shifts is crucial in keeping the business running.
5. Attention to Detail
This skill is important for keeping the store organized and products visually appealing.
Providing excellent customer service in retail means having great attention to detail. This means your display needs to be attractive and your merchandise should be easy for customers to find.
When a store is visually appealing, it draws in more customers. This will give your employees the chance to engage with customers and build relationships with them. By offering excellent customer service, you will not only keep your current clients happy, but you will also increase the chance of them recommending you to others.
The first impression you make on a customer in a store is the longest-lasting impression.
Offer Consistent Customer Service Across All Channels
Customers no longer simply visit stores to buy products. Instead, they go through a complex process that involves using multiple channels and devices.
There is a good chance that your customers will make multiple stops before actually making a purchase.
Providing a consistent customer experience across all channels, including your physical location, online store, social media channels, and any email communications you have with your clients, is key to providing an omnichannel shopping experience.
The eCommerce shop set up by Her Hide Out wanted to ensure consistency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was important for Stephanie Fontaine, one of the store owners, that the vibe of their eCommerce shop matched the vibe of their store. This would ensure consistency for customers across all channels.
They realized that by linking to their social media channels, they could provide great customer service to a larger audience. By replicating the customer experience they had in store, they provided a unified experience across their different sales channels.
We’re seeing a lot of success in terms of unifying our customer service experience across all channels. By providing consistent, helpful customer service both online and in-store, we’re able to replicate the same connection with our customers no matter how they choose to shop with us.
Make Customer Service Everyone’s Job
Customer service is the responsibility of every employee, from managers to interns.
If a manager has an issue with customer service, maybe they’re not cut out for the business. If your team needs help with their customer service skills, get them training.
If your team needs to improve their phone etiquette, consider sending them to a phone skills training class.
Update Your Sales Crew
If you’re constantly bringing in new products, it’s important to keep your whole sales crew up to date. Make sure everyone behind the counter gets to check out new products before you offer them to customers. This way, you can ensure a consistent service across all channels.
When it comes to complex products, you might need to provide different types of training content like streaming videos or in-person demos from experts. This way, your sales staff will be able to explain just how the product works and what kind of accessories would pair well with it.
Your sales team can explain how your new bagel cutters work, or which sweater models go best with a certain scarf.
Examples of Great Retail Customer Service
If you’re stuck trying to understand what good customer service looks like, you can always look at what the best businesses are doing. Zappos, a retail brand known for its excellent customer service, is a good example to follow.
The following story demonstrates how proficient they are at it:
A loyal, long-time, and valued client of Zappos purchased 6 pairs of footwear for her mother who had recently undergone a surgical procedure that left her with numbness in her feet. However, the 6 pairs did not provide the needed comfort and the client returned them.
She called the customer service department of Zappos and explained her situation. She then asked for a refund for the pair of shoes she had purchased.
A couple of days later, the customer was delighted to find a bouquet with a get-well-soon message. The entire family was given a free upgrade in membership status, which included free shipping on all future orders.
One advantage of being a small business is being able to build a deep, relationship with customers, one customer at a time.
When you take the time to get to know your regular customers and make them feel like they are part of your community, it creates a positive image for your brand. Your customers will appreciate the personal touch and be more likely to continue doing business with you.
T-We Tea is a San Francisco-based tea store that offers various tea products and blends.
One customer was a regular and frequently purchased tea from their online store. When opening one such order, the customer found a note that read: “OMG, Hi Francesca! So lovely to see your name come up! We miss you dearly up here but know you are always doing epic things!”
Doing little things for your customer, like sending them a personalized greeting, is a great way to make them happy and make them feel special.
Zappos and T-We Tea have demonstrated what is retail customer service and why it matters to any business. Retail customer service is all about creating a positive experience for customers from start to finish. By assisting customers, answering questions, and making sure shoppers are enjoying themselves, you can keep customers coming back again and again.