Getting service retailing right is more important than ever. In the post-Amazon world, people expect near simultaneous purchase and delivery. How much more do they expect from retailers (or retail departments) that specialize in service?
Service retailing often involves products and physical exchanges. But unlike other forms of retail, the emphasis is largely placed on something less tangible: the level of service and the relationship with the customer. Service retailing customers often give more attention to the level of service provided than the actual product. If the customer is focused on it, you need to be too.
With this level of focus on service, how can service retailers connect with customers on an ongoing basis and in a way that encourages loyalty?
Why Service Retailers Need a Customer-Oriented Platform
The short answer: you need the right software for customer service and support.
The slightly longer answer: you need a Customer Service Platform (CSP) in order to capture information for visitors, encourage follow up after visits and provide immediate attention across all channels, whether physical or digital.
Capture Visitor Information
Providing a great service is about keeping your customer’s needs and priorities straight. In order to do that, you need to capture relevant information – from initial onboarding to resolving issues and following up for feedback. Sometimes this means an in-store customer service employee capturing relevant information, and sometimes it’s via a contact center agent. Either way, agents should be entering the information into a centralized system. A good CSP should go beyond contact information. Tracking issues by category and location, keeping communication visible and monitoring satisfaction metrics are all critical.
Follow-up After Visits
First, if you’ve already captured the relevant information, follow up with customers after their visit to your physical service retail location or after they’ve made contact through another touch point. If their issue has been resolved, ask for feedback to feed your metrics and improve over time. If it hasn’t yet been resolved, get proactive and ask how else you can help them succeed. This is why feedback needs to be shared in real time – with both in-store staff and customer service teams. Making the connection between who the customer has and has not spoken to will make their experience that much better.
Offer Omnichannel Attention
As a service retailer, you likely face a unique challenge: offering personable support in-store and accessibility across multiple channels. Only fewer than 25% of businesses can handle complex interactions in digital channels1. This is why a truly customer-oriented CRM will integrate these different touch points for you. Whether a customer makes a request over the phone, via chat, on social media or in person, every one of these interactions go into the same system and remain visible. It makes the interaction seamless for the customer and easier to track for your team.
Stand Out from the Crowd with a Personal Touch
You can rest assured that, as an industry, service retail is not going anywhere anytime soon. A study from McKinsey found that business activities requiring customer communication and other social interactions have a less than 30 percent chance of heading toward automation. Customers need the judgment calls, emotional intelligence and personal touch that only real people provide.
Service retailing may not be in danger of automation, but what about standing out from your competitors? People will remember personalized messages and good follow up. Since it is less about the product and more about the support you offer, this is the critical selling point for a CSP.
Writing at Small Business Chron, Kristie Lorette says: “A service is more about selling a relationship and the value of the relationship between the buyer and seller of the service.” To avoid the feeling that you are selling them a service, customers want that relationship. They want that personal touch. The keyword here is customer experience.
A robust CSP makes that personal touch possible. For new interactions, you can resolve issues quickly and efficiently while maintaining great communication with the customer even if they leave your physical location. The software solution makes that omnichannel attention we discussed above possible. For new interactions, you can make the customer feel like an individual – instead of one of a thousand problems – from the very beginning.
“With a customer service platform, you can transform basic support and piecemeal service efforts into a holistic customer experience that stands out,” says Nicolas Raffin, Founder & CEO of innso. “The more memorable your service, the better your reviews. The better your reviews, the more customers you attract.”
Make Enhanced Customer Experience your USP
Some products have USPs focused on features. Others focus on benefits. As a service retailer, your unique value is the customer service you provide. Over 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
When you provide excellent support (both in-person and across multiple channels), customer service becomes a unique value proposition that extends beyond individual interactions with customers. Dan Shewan gives a good idea of what that entails: “A value proposition tells prospects why they should do business with you rather than your competitors, and makes the benefits of your products or services crystal clear from the outset.”
By taking the time to connect with your customers throughout their journey, excellent customer service becomes integral to this message. Beyond individual interactions, you can use this selling point in marketing outreach, onboarding and more – provided in-store and customer service teams have the same global view of a customer’s experience and journey. With a great CSP, customer interactions, transactions and insights are shared over time and in real time – ultimately enhancing the customer experience.
People see great customer service as a baseline and jump on bad customer service. So let customer service be an actual selling point of your service retail business.