Customer Service: Consumer Expectations

Good customer service skills essential when working in retail, especially when interacting with the general public.

If you work in retail, you have to be able to talk to anybody. Consumers do not want to talk to an automated, electronic voice. Buyers do not want to “choose from the following options”. They want to talk to a human being, someone who understands the principles of customer service.

From personal experience, excellent customer service is being greeted with a smile, and given the sales assistant’s full attention, regardless of answering a query, or finding a different size in an item of clothing. When someone ignores me, or looks as if they are disinterested in a conversation, I leave. And never return.

Think back to a time when you have received bad customer service. Maybe the fatal confrontation was in a shop, where the sales assistant seemed to be elsewhere, mentally and/or physically. What would you say or do to help them with their customer service standards?

Paul Stread, writer for Time Magazine brings up a valid point. “Don’t forget the importance of a personal touch with your customers.” If you think that they may have visited the store before, then use the age old line: “Hello there, it’s nice to see you again.”

For some shops however, it is as if their profit is more important than customer retention. The footfall of the shop in question comes into play more than the customer feedback they are receiving. A company needs to understand that the customers’ needs come first, and when they do, it shows. The customer service training that they have provided their employees is evident in how they interact with the customers.

Customer service

With the advancements in technology, social media is an extremely important platform for customer reviews. A single tweet can influence the thoughts and perceptions of hundreds, maybe thousands, of potential customers. These 140 characters could be the make or break a company needs to expand into the ever competitive world of retail.

Manager of Louth Travel in Lincolnshire, Kerry-Emson Smith as explained that: “For us, the secret is creating a welcoming and friendly environment for our customers – we know most of them by name. Also, you need to get them the right holiday that’s perfect for their needs.

This is what businesses should be continuously trying to get their staff to understand. If you walk into a shop and you are greeted by polite, friendly and approachable staff, you are more likely to spend your hard earned money. Rising levels of internet shoppers can mean that businesses who are not customer service focussed are losing out, whilst companies who value their customers will continue to flourish.

Tips for providing excellent customer service:

–          Ensure each and every customer entering the premise is greeting, or at least acknowledged. They like to think that you have their every whimsical need at the forefront of your mind.

–          No request is too big or small – even if it seems to be at the time. Do everything that you can to provide an exceptional outcome, and you will be guaranteed one very happy customer.

–          If you can, find out their name. Not “Bob” or “Joan”, but Mr/Miss/Ms (insert surname here). This adds a personal touch, and ensures that the customer feels valued. They are more likely to remember you if you act as if they are the only customer in store.

–          You might not agree, but the customer is always right – even when they are wrong. Just smile, understand their point of view, and do not lose your temper.

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