Customer Service Impacts Sales

Petra's Bill Stewart
Technology is important but the basics still matter

In the early days, customer service was arguably a retailer’s top focus. Today, offering the latest technology and being the first to debut the hottest product and accessory have become top priorities for most retailers. While that’s important, it often seems that good old-fashioned customer service has become an afterthought. Maybe it’s time to rethink our priorities.

According to a recent Forrester report, The Business Impact of Customer Experience, customer experience impacts customer loyalty, which impacts revenue. Other reports cite that enhanced customer service increases sales.With that in mind, let’s look at four customer service elements that impact retail sales: interactions during the sale, meeting customer needs, capitalizing on customer feedback, and pricing.

Interactions during the sale

What do customers experience when they interact with your sales team during a purchase? Technology is a must in retail sales interactions, but customers still value that personal touch. This means that in addition to interactivedisplays and mobile point-of-sale systems, you should employ a well-staffed and knowledgeable sales team. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than being unable to operate an interactive display and not having a real person in close range to help or answer questions. Make sure you have adequate personnel to provide a personal level of service to each and every customer you encounter.

Do you have an automated phone system? When a customer calls how many prompts are they give before they actually speak to a live person? Many customers will hang up before completing the prompts and, just like that, you’ve missed a potential sale. Consider “secret shopping” your business on a regular basis by calling in and playing the role of a customer. This way you can evaluate whether your system enhances or weakens the overall customer experience, and then make the appropriate adjustments. Technology should be used to complement – not replace – personal one-to-one selling.

Meeting Customer Needs

Is your sales team solely focused on meeting a sales quota or are they truly focused on the customers’ needs? What about your product selection? Is your store properly merchandised to fulfill their needs? For example, if you’re a wireless retailer, your store should be stocked with a wide variety of cases, screenprotectors, headphones, chargers, Bluetooth products and other relevant wireless accessories. Your team should be trained to recognize customer needs and suggest accessories that complement their hardware purchases and enhance their lifestyle. True service is about caring for your customers and meeting their needs. Your team should be your strongest brand and product ambassador, and thus your best deal closers.

Capitalizing on Customer Feedback

Do you have a solid procedure for handling compliments and complaints about your products and services? If not, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to gain sales and retain customers. You should also follow up as quickly as possible on compliments and complaints to let your customers know what actions you’ll take or changes you’ll make as a result of their feedback. You’re likely to convert unsatisfied customers into returning customers because they know you’ll not only listen to their comments, but act upon it as well. Whatever feedback you get from a customer—negative or positive—you can be sure they are spreading the word.

Pricing

Are your prices as competitive as they can be? Are you stocking high-margin items, including accessories? Retailers must offer competitive prices and a diverse selection since there is a plethora of retail choices for customers.

For example, if you run a computer store, you should be carrying a broad selection of cases and bags, mice and mouse pads, web cameras, cables and connectors and other relative accessories at different price ranges. It’s also important that every retailer work with a good distribution partner that can advise on pricing strategy, as well as offer just-in-time inventory, flexible payment options and freight discounts, which produce bigger margins that over time can impact a retailer’s ability to lower prices for their customers.

Providing good customer service – along with new technologies and tools – is imperative and should lead every retailer’s sales strategy. Enhance your customers’ overall experience and keep them returning to do business with you by providing personal interactions during sales, offering relevant products and accessories that meet lifestyle needs, listening and responding to customer feedback, and remaining flexible on product pricing.

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