Another article I wrote for High Street Business magazine. It was much more condensed in the HSB, so here is the full version!
Customer service in the UK is actually better than programmes such as Mary Portas: Secret Shopper suggest. “Customer satisfaction has increased in the last three years,” said Institute of Customer Service (ICS) chief executive Jo Causon. ICS figures show that the customer satisfaction rate is over 80 per cent for both the food and non-food retail sectors. These scores are based on five key areas: professionalism, quality of service, ease of doing business, problem solving and timeliness.
There is still plenty of room for improvement though. “Retail always provides examples of bad customer service. It’s not great anywhere,” said Customer Service Network (CSN) business development director Darren Young.
Furthermore, CSN found that when they analysed different levels of response, good customer service just isn’t enough for profitability. “Of customers who rate an organisation’s customer service as ‘excellent’, seven out of ten stay loyal. Of those who rate an organisation as ‘good’, only three out of ten will stay with that organisation,” added Young.
So here are some top tips from the experts for how to improve your service and build upon the loyalty of your customers:
- Train and develop your staff regularly. “Teach your staff how to serve their customers, how to respond to enquiries, how to treat somebody as an individual and to look people in the eye,” said Causon. The training is also a two-way learning process. “Get your staff to contribute their feedback on the store,” Causon added. Young also feels that it is imperative staff know their product and the services offered well. “Lack of knowledge is a huge issue, staff should know what they are talking about,” said Young.
- Keep your customers informed. “It is the service customers want most but the one providers do the least,” said Young. This includes letting your customers know when a product is available. Young advises that a good way to do this at the moment is through old fashioned text messaging. “Everybody reads the texts they are sent. You can’t say everybody reads their emails.”
- Deal with problems quickly and efficiently. “It is one of the most challenging areas that retailers face. However, where people are dealt with fairly, they will respond more positively,” said Causon. Darren Young pointed out that problems can actually have a positive outcome. “If problems are dealt with quickly, customers will become more loyal than they ever would have been if there had not been a problem,” said Young.