Posted July 22, 2020

The Cruciality of Customer Service in Retail: Part 1

By Grace Tino

Whether it is a small "mom and pop" retail shop, or a store that's part of a nationwide chain, customer service remains universally one of the most vital factors in the success of a retail business. As Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, once stated, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." When it comes to customer service for retailers, there is always room for improvement. Retail workers are the key to ensuring a great experience to their customers; therefore, skills in customer service are among the most coveted by retail hiring teams. Understanding the essential part customer service plays in the success of a business is crucial to excelling in a retail position!

Just how important is customer service to a retail business's success? Broadly speaking, better customer service correlates to better sales. For example, 7 out of 10 consumers say that they have chosen to spend more at a business with positive customer service than one without. In today's current economic climate, focusing on this strategy is key to preserving long-term success. Studies show that 96% of businesses fail within 10 years. While many factors come into play with the long-term success of a retail business, customers are centric to brand awareness, image, and profits. The most direct strategy to ensuring a happy long-term customer is providing the correct in-store (or even online!) experience to stand out from competitors.

Customer service is crucial to effective customer retention. When it comes to poor experiences, 33% of American consumers state that they'll consider trying a new company after even one instance of poor service. Even more shocking, 50% of consumers report that they would never even shop with a business again after a bad experience. When considering the true impact of customer loss on overall sales, it's important to note that it can range from 5 to even 25 times more expensive to bring in a new customer than simply retain an existing one. Positive customer service means prolonged customer retention, which cuts the costs of constantly having to acquire new business to sustain profits. The probability of selling to an existing customer is a considerable 60-70%, which outshines the probability of selling to a new one at 5-20%. While new customers are always important to the growth of a retail business, maintain existing ones is the base needed for profitability.

Beyond the obvious financial benefits for retailers that come with great customer service, there is even greater value that comes in result- customer service is a direct reflection on the integrity, care, and trustworthiness a business has as it relates to its consumers. The actions of retail employees in the stores directly shape the image of the retail company overall to the public. Customer service essentially is how a business makes its consumers feel valued. When the customer feels valued, loyalty will follow, along with the positive statistics mentioned that boost sales. The retail employee plays the key face-to-face role in ensuring a customer leaves feeling valued, satisfied, and happy to return.

In addition to acting as a great branding element, superior customer service is also a catalyst for brand awareness at a low cost to the retailer. Strong and reliable brands are likely to be spread through "word of mouth" as well; this is where customers spread word and encourage others to shop with the brand and is a cost-free way of gaining new attention. Customers truly value feeling cared for with a personalized and attentive experience, especially in today's current environment where busines seems to be getting less personal. Great experiences for customers are a sure way to spread the word on a retail business.

With customer service being such a pivotal factor in the bottom line for retailers, it is no surprise that it is a crucial job focus for retail employees as well. When retail teams are looking to hire, job seekers with personable energy and skills related to customer service will stand out amongst competition. Further, retail workers that prove their success in customer service situations can expect a greater chance for promotions and raises. One study found that amongst the most reported service issues from customers were situations where associates failed to assist or answer questions properly, or when customers felt they had to go out of their way to get help. These are the most common, yet also most correctable, customer service issues a retail associate can improve to excel in his/her position!

When applying for retail positions, customer service dexterity is the most important asset to highlight in your resume, interview, and on the job as well. Demonstrating an understanding of the statistics behind customer service demonstrates to potential employers the depth of your dedication to providing a superior customer experience. Remember when discussing your customer service knowledge to emphasize the intangible feeling of value it not only brings to the customer, but the tangible fiscal value it supplements to the company's success. As a retail employee, you are the front-line strategist in creating a superior customer experience. In Part 2, we will cover the specific do's and don'ts of customer service. AllRetailJobs provides job seekers with thousands of retailers searching for the right employees to shape the future of their business- get started on your search with us here!