If you’re a retailer, you don’t need me to tell you how competitive the industry has become. Providing great retail customer service has always been important to business owners who take pride in their work — but today, it can be a matter of business survival.
According to BPR Consulting, nearly two-thirds of shoppers will stop visiting a store after just one bad experience. Here’s why great retail customer service is so important.
Great Customer Service Pays Off
Customers are willing to pay for great customer service. More than two-thirds (68%) of consumers in a Gladly study say they would pay more for great service. How much more? One-third say they’d pay 1-9% more; 27% would pay 10-20% more and 8% are willing to pay over 20% more.
Consider two retailers widely touted for their great customer service: Zappos and Nordstrom. Both rarely have sales and aren’t known for low prices. Still, customers (including me) find it worth the extra expense to feel confident they’ll get amazing service every time.
Customer Service Has A Ripple Effect
Whether your retail store’s customer service is outstanding or horrifying, shoppers will hear about it via online reviews and social media. Some 91% of consumers aged 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 68% won’t use a business with less than a four-star review. In other words, even people who have never been to your store will form an opinion based on what they read online.
The good news: If they have a great customer experience, 80% of consumers will recommend your business to friends and family, and 40% will also share their story on social media. The bad news: If you provide bad customer service, 67% of consumers will actively dissuade others from patronizing your business, and 42% will spread the (bad) word on social media.
Examples of Good Customer Service in Retail
Great customer service means more than just delivering on your store’s promise. It means going above and beyond so that customers take note, are dazzled and remember what you did. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
Tying One On
A teenager went to Target looking for a clip-on tie to wear to a job interview. The store didn’t sell clip-ons, but employees Dennis Roberts and Cathy Scott didn’t say “We don’t carry those” and walk away. Instead, Scott found a regular tie, Roberts showed the teen how to tie it, and the pair of them coached the boy in interview skills like shaking hands and making eye contact. The touching story went viral.
Micah Solomon ordered a $200 pair of shoes from Nordstrom.com. The package was left out in the rain, ruining the footwear. Solomon was a regular Nordstrom shopper. When his salesperson heard about it, she told him, “I’m so incredibly sorry that happened, and I’m bringing over a brand-new pair of shoes — will you be home in 45 minutes?” What’s most amazing about this story (which Solomon shared on Forbes) is that the salesperson had absolutely nothing to do with that purchase — she just wanted to offer the outstanding service Nordstrom is known for.
An elderly man was snowed in around Christmas and another storm was coming. His daughter called local supermarkets to see if anyone could deliver some groceries to her stranded dad. Market after market said no — until Trader Joe’s said yes. In fact, the Trader Joe’s staff helped her select low-sodium items, told her there was no charge for the order, and delivered the items within 30 minutes. The kicker? Trader Joe’s doesn’t deliver.
What You Can Do to Deliver Great Customer Service
How can you deliver great customer service? It’s all about people — both your customers and your employees.
Nearly eight in 10 consumers in a BRP study say being able to get personalized service from a salesperson in-store is a key factor in where they choose to shop. But personalization does more than that: 30% of respondents in an InMoment survey say personalized treatment is what transforms a plain old purchase into an “experience.”
Take advantage of loyalty apps and other tools to track shoppers’ purchasing habits and offer personalized discounts or products chosen just for them. InMoment found shoppers want store employees to recognize their past purchasing habits and know their loyalty program status.
Salespeople make or break the retail customer experience. Positive experiences with staff increase consumers’ satisfaction by 33% overall; in the retail fashion niche, they increase satisfaction by 73%.
The great customer service stories above couldn’t have happened if employees were just “following the rules.” Train your salespeople, empower them to do what they think is right, and trust them to use their best judgement to make the customer happy. Only then will they go above and beyond to provide truly great retail customer service.