Loyalty schemes are fast becoming part of many retailers strategies to encourage both new and loyal customers to use their services. What every business has in common is the desire to drive repeat sales and business, whether this is in the form of membership cards, loyalty schemes or reward plans. It is apparent that now more than ever, consumers have an increasing number of shops to choose from; this means that the retailers themselves must remain competitive and differentiate from the competition. Continue reading “Do retailer loyalty schemes actually work?”
Does customer service hold the key to your business success?
Having a bad experience with customer service is never positive; it only puts you off returning to a business because of said service. Maybe you’ve encountered someone with a poor attitude or you’ve had someone speak to you in an offensive manner on the phone: regardless of what it is, you’re more likely to go elsewhere if you’re feeling let down by a business. But, if bad customer service will push customers away, can implementing good service help draw them back to your business? Find out in our latest blog.
How can you increase customer loyalty and what are the benefits of this?
When you’re analysing the overall quality of your customer service, a vital indication of great service is customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is exactly what you think it means; having a group of customers who are loyal to the brand, so they’ll recommend to others and do repeat business. A study recently revealed the a massive 68% of customers leave a brand or service simply because that suffer a bad experience with the company in one way or another. This customer will, on average, talk about their bad experience with around 8 people, but this can stretch to a considerable 25. It’s more common for a customer to talk about bad experiences than good ones.
Retaining customers through loyalty
The first major benefit of providing good customer service is maintaining a high level of customer retention. It’s common knowledge that if you make a customer happy, they’ll return multiple times to do repeat business. For this to become common practice in your business, you’ll need to have well-trained customer service reps who can deal with issues and handle questions on a one to one basis, as this will ensure that their needs are met. Customer service reps who listen to their customers will go a long way in terms of customer appreciation; even if the problem isn’t solved right away, it’s beneficial to the customer as they’re happy that you’re trying to fix their problem.
Improve your employee retention to see the benefits
If you have a good team of customer service reps, who understand that they’re the representation of the company on a one to one basis, then you’ll be more likely to communicate effectively with customers over the phone and face to face. If you deliver the correct training on how to deal with phone calls, you’re more likely to increase employee retention.
Save money through brand ambassadors
Having great customer service can relieve a lot of pressure on your company to attract new customers. Delivering great service will give you a massive helping hand in attracting new clients, as word of mouth is one of the most popular ways of generating business. When you impress a customer and give great service, they’ll tell their friends about your company, so not only are you delivering great service, you’re also moulding your current customers into brand ambassadors, free of charge!
We hope you have a wonderful Christmas, from all of us here at Retail Maxim!
Customer service is such an important factor to consider for your business, as it has the power to make or break it.
If customers are unsatisfied with your employees or feel they aren’t being treated as a customer should be, they will go elsewhere for their purchases and will probably even suggest friends and family members to avoid your business.
Of course, you do not want that, so it’s important to train up your employees to serve the best customer service and then monitor it, so it continues at a satisfactory level.
When customer service is high, customer satisfaction will be even higher and that’s perfect for business.
Customer service comes in many forms, and you may not even realise you’re doing them, so remember to pay attention to what you’re doing at all times.
An example? – A customer could walk into your retail store and ask for a specific item. you may not have that item in stock but you do have a similar one that does the same thing, so you say, ‘I’m sorry we don’t, but we do have another product that serves the same purpose, maybe you might interested in that?’ – That’s customer service.
Another form of customer service is over the phone.
No matter what type of business you are running, you will get customers calling on the phone – either to be asking about the hours of operation or regarding a purchase they may have recently made.
No matter the reason for calling, you employee answering should know how to answer appropriately and maintains mannerisms at all times.
People will continue to do business with you if they are treated kindly and with the utmost respect; if treated the opposite way, customers will be driven away.
Following up with customers is another form of customer service.
Showing your customers you care about the and you want to make sure that everything they have and need is working efficiently and at a standard they like, they’ll be grateful for that and will remember you.
Plus they won’t be afraid to come to you if there’s a problem they may need assistance with, and won’t think twice about recommending you to friends and family.
One last form of customer service you should ensure happens is helping your customers. No matter if they are young or old, by helping them to their car when they have quite an arm load of products, you are showing you care.
Another way is by helping them selecting the right product for them, by helping them understand which will cater best for what they are purchasing that product for.
It’s crucial to keep the customer in mind by providing them excellent customer service, if you do not, they will leave and go to your competitor.
For more information about customer service and our mystery shopping services we offer, visit our website!
What importance does mystery shopping hold today?
As we all know, mystery shopping is process of going into a physical store and evaluating the overall performance of the employees. The mystery shopper goes in pretending to be a simple shopper, visiting the store for the purpose of purchasing an item. This shopper is either employed by the store or an external company, assessing the employee performance and submitting a report.
There’s no specific requirements essential to become a mystery shopper, as you don’t need to hold a certain appearance, qualification or manner, you’re simply blending in with all of the other shoppers. Those who hold a massive flair and passion for the field will enhance the levels of customer service in the store and these people are requested highly in the service.
Although being a mystery shopper is incredibly fun, it’s good to remember that mystery shopping is still a serious business, one that’s clearly structured to aid the service of stores around the world. It’s important to hold a few traits in order to deal with the mystery shopping process, like reliability, professionalism and levels of trust you can offer a company. Apart from these traits, you should remember that shoppers should have a way of transportation, literate skills and good memory.
The stores that use mystery shopping are using this to massively boost their sales by improving their levels of customer satisfaction through improved customer service. Mystery shoppers are hired in order to increase the sales of the store by giving employees pointers on how to improve their performance. The service is not only useful for evaluating the performance of the staff, it’s also vital for checking the service available to customers from their business rivals. You can compare the two levels of customer service to find areas that need improvement or changing. This allows the problems to be rectified faster than usual, increasing the number of customers visiting the store through word of mouth recommendations, boosting the sales massively for businesses nationwide.
Before considering hiring a mystery shopping service, you should take a look at the existing level of service that’s already in place at the business. This will give you an insight into what needs boosting in your business, so doing your own research is good preparation for the shopping service. If you conduct an audit of the employees, you’ll be sure to receive a look into their work performance, but don’t tell them about the incoming mystery shopper service. Doing so will affect the results, as they’ll be extra alert in their service, causing inaccuracies in the findings.
So, what do you think? Would you be interested in a mystery shopping service?
If you are, please visit our website here or call us on 0844 875 5505 for more info!
An indepth look into mystery shopping
By Robert Brocklesby BSc
I get asked all the time by clients, how can we ensure that a higher percentage of our customers make purchases? My answer is always the same: you must first ask your customers why they are not purchasing, understand what wants and needs you are not fulfilling, and act.
Reports indicate that anywhere from 50 – 82% of customers leave retail stores without purchasing. For most retailers, increasing the percentage of purchasing customers by a very attainable 5% could make a tremendous difference to the bottom line. The example I always site runs as follows: if 50% of a store’s 200 daily customers typically make purchases, and this store’s average sale per customer is £40, raising the store’s purchase rate to 55% (only 10 more purchasers per day) would equate to an additional £400/day and £146,000 annually. If that store was part of a 100-store chain, and they all raised their purchase rates from 50% to 55%, the additional annual sales would equate to almost £15 million!
I truly believe that in an age where customers willingly share their experiences with family, friends and the social media world it’s not surprising that they may be just as willing to share their thoughts, experiences and preferences , if asked, with retailers.
This is where Retail Maxim’s ‘Real Customer Surveys’ can help. Both Exit Surveys as well as ‘Online’ based surveys consult ‘real’ customers who have either bought or not, with a focused questionnaire to discover their views.
Retail Maxim’s surveys are an effective form of gauging Real Customers’ honest thoughts and opinions. We also charge a fraction of the price compared to other Market Research companies who often create lengthy, complex surveys which can aggravate customers. So, are you reading this and need to know the answers to the following sorts of questions?
- What are your customers’ unfulfilled needs?
- Why are customers leaving your locations without purchasing?
- Are your promotional materials bringing customers in and making an impact?
- Where else are your customers shopping and why?
- What do customers think about your new concept store?
- And much, much more…
Robert Brocklesby BSc
Joint Managing Director at Retail Maxim Ltd
Is poor customer service in retail leading to lower sales in the sector?
The retail sector is one of the most used avenues of customer service worldwide, as customer interaction is more common with staff of the big brands compared to various other industries. Though it’s one of the biggest customer service sectors, companies on the high street seemingly suffer from poor levels of customer service. So, what can be done to combat this and if nothing is done, what effects can it have on the customer service industry?
Big brands on the high street are suffering from customer service woes whilst their online counterparts are enjoying continued growth. What can companies do to ensure survival in an ever fierce battle between the high street giants for customer service dominance? What makes a loyal customer?
Below we give you 4 top reasons to that’ll keep a customer coming back for more, ensuring that a customer stays loyal to your brand.
Be sure to monitor and analyse all forms of customer feedback
Mystery shopping is completely designed around doing just this. Need to monitor how your staff are performing in store? Just how helpful are they to the customers that visit you most? Find out all of this and more through our mystery shopping scheme. We can deliver over 10 different forms of customer service analysis, from video mystery shopping, to phone call analysis, exit surveys and more! It’s the best way to gain an insight into what your loyal customers think of you.
Consistency of information is key
Your customers will often call you for an information query, so be sure that you’re giving them consistent information across the board. There’s no point telling one customer one thing and relaying a different message to another: consistency is key. Your levels of consistency can be monitored by our telephone mystery shoppers. It’s a great way to see how you’re performing!
Give answers in a precise and timely manner
Have you made it easy for your customers to find vital information at the drop of a hat? It’s a good idea to have an FAQ section of your site (pictured) as it will usually answer all of the questions that could be asked by your customers. This will reduce customers calling up your store, so it’s a good way of keeping the communication process open without having to speak with your customers directly.
Customer service should be available anytime, anywhere, regardless of the platform that it’s being delivered on. Offer a multi channel service to all which allows a wider audience to interact with you!
What do you think of our ideas? We want to hear from you in the comments below! For more on customer service and mystery shopping, please visit our website.
Mystery shoppers can give you a service unlike no other, but why use it?
Mystery shoppers are, quite simply, those who carry out the services of improving customer service for companies across the world. Acting as a customer, they test the customer service department as some form of auditor. Mystery shoppers worldwide carry out tasks at the places of business, on a company’s website or simply over the phone.
Unlike most real customers, these mystery shopping professionals are trained to look for specific qualities in the customer service that they’re analysing. They measure the qualities in your customer service representatives, offering feedback on the level of customer service that they receive, giving suggestions that raise the bar on customer satisfaction levels.
With these handy tips below, we help you determine whether mystery shopping is a step in the right direction for your business:
What are the benefits of mystery shopping?
Before you sign up for a mystery shopping programme, you should consider what the benefits would be to your company. Work out what exactly you’d like to reap from the process. Some of the benefits of mystery shopping vary, but here’s what’s included:
• A different perspective! You’ll gain the ability to view your business through the eyes of the customer, learning just what your clients think of you at first impression. This is the only way to gain this perspective, as trying to gain this from someone within your company won’t convey as effectively.
• An overview of your customer service! A gifted mystery shopper can tell you what exactly works in your customer service programme and what doesn’t, allowing you to make the relevant changes.
• A spot on evaluation of what your customer service offers. Mystery shoppers will display whether your employees offer a valuable customer service experience, allowing your employees to earn the correct skills, providing a positive impression on your clients.
Mystery shoppers can accurately assess the state of your customer service, finding which area of your customer service should be corrected in your customer experience. This allows for you to fine tune any deficiencies that exist in your staff training.
Starting a mystery shopper program
Given the benefits above sound like something you’d wish to incorporate into your customer service experience, it’s time to start your mystery shopping program! Take these steps in order to get ready for the experience:
• Tell your employees that you are starting the program, just to make sure that they don’t feel blindsided after the program takes place. Tell them it’s not something they’re doing wrong, rather a training tool for could be used to raise the level of service offered by your staff.
• Discover what you want to get out of the mystery shopping service. Setting particular benchmarks will allow for you to monitor just how well your program is going.
• Find out which mystery shopping service will best meet all of your needs and budgets. For example, you can hire a larger company that can operate in a number of outlets nationwide but this isn’t exactly necessary if you have just one store.
Mystery shopping can be used as one of the most effective ways to evaluate your current state of customer service that’s available to your audience. A professional in the mystery shopper service will give your company guidance in ways to raise the standards of your employees, giving you a level of service that pleases all.
For more on mystery shopping programs, please visit our website.
The customer service industry was created by mistake, seemingly.
It’s been outsourced to companies for the past decades and since the evolution of the internet customer service has become widespread across all mediums of contact now. Online customer service is often ill-suited to meeting customer service needs and here’s why:
- New channels of communication have been adapted to slowly by companies.
- New channels bringing the challenge of a single customer view has been difficult to handle.
- Single customer view brings the challenge of data centralisation.
- New devices and consumption habits (the Smartphone) have made older web assets somewhat redundant, proposing more problems for companies.
Yet, in 2013, many companies seemed to wake up and smell the ‘coffee’. The coffee of customer service being something that needs tackling head on as when it’s completed well it can be unbelievably important to the resulting level of customer happiness, augmenting the final product you sell.
There are many avenues in which customer service lives where seamless customer experience takes away the reliance on call centres, improving conversion and customer happiness.
Aside from the web giants making a virtue of customer experience, which brands have made recent commitments to customer service?
Besides the web giants making the customer experience difficult to match, which brands have been making increased commitments to customer service in 2013?
A majority of customers now expect a self-service options for customer service, with many actively preferring it in modern business. Smartphone usage is high enough to influence the efficiency of any customer service operation. As self service options are digital, it’s much easier for companies to keep records of customer interaction.
24 hour service is naturally a fantastic USP for Anytime Fitness, as the name of the company so subtly suggests. The brand’s sites have ’24 hour’ featured in title tags to avoid any confusion to customers.
You may think that 24 hour access for Anytime Fitness customers isn’t really an example of customer service as it’s essentially the product offered, yet this isn’t the case.
If this doesn’t give you enough satisfaction, Anytime Fitness produce instructional videos to take the personal trainer out of the equation, allowing customers to maintain a fitness regime when the specific staff aren’t around. These videos are accessible in the Gyms or on the website, so it’s great for all customers. These videos are also accessible to non-gym goers, for a fee, opening up their market massively by adding a new revenue stream.
All of this is based on the company’s commitment to their audience’s convenience and culture. Check out the membership page for ease of use and beautiful design.
Giffgaff, rather famously, do not operate call centres. There’s a significant cost struck off to start off with. Naturally, some customers will ask for a phone number on support forums, but the stats for their customer service responses are great.
Answers on the support forums are given by fellow customers, which is similar to the model developed by Sky, where customer service ‘champions’ are rewarded for their efforts through free stuff, product testing and sometimes an occasional meeting with the Sky team themselves.
This thread just shows the customer reaction and true feeling when one customer displayed their dismay at Giffgaff not having a phone number.
Crowd-service or P2P
AirBnB’s customer satisfaction is much higher than the classic hotel chains like Hilton, treating this as an indicator of the power of crowd service. The idea is that when it comes to P2P products in particular, the customer service is often provided by the property owner, who is more invested in the product than an outsider.
Of course, this can sometimes mean it can be harder to ensure consistency of experience for all, but nevertheless the culture is fantastic in providing good, wholesome customer service.
Barclaycard Ring is a similar concept to that of crowd sourcing, but it’s often on a larger scale in this instance, taking onboard customer feedback on what the service do for its customers, both small and big. These can vary from reward programs to charity work.
The service is currently still in infancy, nearing two years old, yet it has increased customer retention level by 25%, with Barclaycard estimating a return so far of $10m.
TOP Tips for making your Customer Service AMAZING
Nobody wants to be ordinary and everybody wants to feel special at some point. Valued customers are the greatest customers; they recommend you to friends, family and colleagues whilst being repeat buyers. Here are our top tips for making your customer service amazing and creating a fantastic customer community:
Listen to your customers and their feedback: When a customer gives you feedback, whether it be positive or negative, always consider acting upon it. You’d be surprised how often a company will disregard the words of their customers only to lose them later to competition. Always remember to let your customers know that you appreciate their comments – after all, you’re getting free advice from the people who you’re trying to sell to!
Reliability is key to repurchases: Make sure you and your staff know what the customer expectations are and be sure to live up to them. Don’t think that you’re going to make every customer you ever have happy, but aiming to do so isn’t bad for the company. Leave yourself some slack to be certain that you can deliver in the stated deadlines – never risk a delay. The old saying comes to mind here – ‘under-promise and over-deliver’. We can think of a company that lost a customer by promising a 5 day window and completing it in 3 days…
Honesty is the best policy: nobody likes to think they’re being misled or sent away with poor excuses. Always aim to help your customers, not to just force a sale or get a complainer off the phone. Honest businesses will always be successful – building good reputations and getting repeat business is a reward for honesty.
Be positive, feel good about your business: a friendly, can-do attitude goes a long way, especially in the workplace. If there’s a problem, don’t complain or worry about it, you’re going to resolve it – that’s a positive! The customer should leave your establishment feeling good about any interaction with your business – that’s how word-of-mouth was born many years ago and it lives on today.
Be professional: if you’re dealing with an unhappy customer, the temptation to get defensive is too much for some – ‘well, it’s not our fault, this happened and then that happened, our suppliers let us down, it was out of our hands’, and so on. Don’t think for a second that this’ll be what the customer wants to hear – the customer doesn’t want to hear excuses; they just want a resolution, just like you would in the same situation. Throwing in a little extra always goes down well too, especially if it ‘wasn’t your fault’.
Fast paced service has become the norm: In the age of instant online communication, people expect queries to be answered twice as fast as they would’ve 15 years ago. As technology advances, so does the options they have to contact you on. Due to modern global use of the internet, they could be contacting the company through several different social media channels besides being on the phone and typing out an email. Neglecting one for too long will result in unhappy, unanswered customers.
Have a heart: The ‘script’ doesn’t come into play now, talking to customers as the individuals they are is important. Local, smaller businesses can do this better than any big company, as they have a better level of customer knowledge and personalisation. Use it to your advantage – it’s a big selling point for customers tired of the same sales script and the constant ‘you’re important to us, so please wait in a queue for the next 30 minutes.’
What do you think is the key to amazing customer service? Share your tips in the comments below.
Just One Sale? or Repeat Business?
As Retail Maxim are well aware – if you have customers, you are in the customer service business. The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer base through delivering legendary customer service. Recommendations, word-of-mouth and of course, social media can dictate public success or failure very easily. Dedicating yourself to excellent customer service is one of the smartest and most profitable things that you can ever do for your business.
1. Understand customer expectations
Do you know what’s important to your customers? Very successful salespeople are repeatedly referred to as friends and advisors by their customers. If you can explain the need, want or frustration better than the customer can, they will automatically assume you know how to solve the problem.
2. Exceed expectations
You want to be remembered, and it takes a lot for that to happen in the eyes of a customer. Expectations are high. Even if you are dealing with a complaint make it a “WOW” experience, mystery shoppers are frequently used to have a first hand insight into the day to day workings of many shops and services. Organizations are often remembered for how they deal with difficult situations more than how they perform on a daily basis. If you are not exceeding customer expectations then you are just like every other business out there.
3. Create customer service systems
Set out to create internal systems that enable the consistent delivery of legendary customer service. Create simple processes, policies and tools to support the delivery of your quality service standards. Processes should never be hassles; they should be designed to remove barriers to providing legendary service. Of course, this all starts with staff being on-board with your vision, which is when exit surveys can be a great idea. Employment engagement is an obvious but often overlooked facet.
4. Make people happy to do business with you
People are predominantly emotional; we are greatly impacted by the warmth, friendliness, cheerfulness and helpfulness of others. Make sure ALL of your staff are capable of making a good first impression within the first 10 seconds of an interaction. It is very difficult to provide a legendary customer experience if YOU are not in a warm, friendly and personable mood.
5. Do everything to make it right
When you mess up – and you will – how you deal with it will define your business. When faced with an issue, own the issue and promptly do EVERYTHING in your power to make it right. WOW your customer, invest in your people with how you deal with issues and you’ll be forever remembered as an organisation that cares. Remember, you are in business not for just this one sale but for the many more to come from that customer in the future.
For more information, call Retail Maxim on telephone number 0844 875 5505 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage you to browse the Retail Maxim website to see what we offer in terms of mystery shopping insights and mystery shopping jobs.