Poor service drives customers away

In a recent poll of 5,712 UK shoppers, Retail Eyes, the UK’s leading specialist in customer experience improvement programmes, found just 3 per cent of customers believe high street retailers deliver good customer service.

With retail sales figures indicating a slow economic recovery in August and a fall in high street spending, this year’s annual National Customer Satisfaction survey results from Retail Eyes demonstrate the need for retailers to do more if they’re to survive today’s competitive climate and prepare for the affects of the VAT rise in the New Year.

A huge 92 per cent confirmed they had left an establishment before making a purchase after receiving poor customer service, which is 36 per cent higher than Retail Eyes’ 2009 survey, and 74 agreed they would actually be prepared to pay more for a product if it meant they received a better service.

Despite the growth in internet retailers, shoppers still believe the best service is given in store (72 per cent) and 47 per cent said they browse online and then make a purchase in store.

Tim Ogle, CEO at Retail Eyes explains: ‘Our survey has highlighted that there’s a real opportunity for retailers to stand out from the crowd and use customer experience as a genuine point of difference to improve customer loyalty and repeat business. With the looming VAT rise consumers are continuing to be more considered in their spending decisions and businesses need to look at how every aspect of their business can deliver value to their customers.

Customer service is going to be vital to survive and it’s clear from our survey that the first point of call should be ensuring staff are interacting with shoppers.’

50 per cent believe the best attribute for providing good customer service is ‘listening and understanding what the customer is looking for.’ And when a shopper asks where to find a product, 76 per cent expect to be taken to its location and not just pointed in the general direction. However, overall impressions can be simply affected by staff appearance with 87 per cent believing it will change their overall perception of the service.

Even up to the point of paying, customers still want to engage. While 97 per cent admit to using self service checkouts, 66 per cent of these people still prefer to use tills with staff for the interaction but half of the 5,712 respondents said that when they’re paying for a product they prefer to enter into some conversation other than that specific to the transaction

Tim Ogle continues: ‘Customer service is all about creating an experience that customers remember and want to revisit. Customers are looking for value for money and that means more than just price; it means the whole experience. Staff are ambassadors of the company and the brand, therefore it’s essential to provide the right training for employees and to have in place systems to monitor service delivery and quality.’

When asked which sector delivers the best customer service, hotels came out on top with 27 per cent followed shortly behind by restaurants at 22% per cent. Banks received 8 per cent with pubs and bars only receiving 4 per cent of the vote.

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