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The experience matters: Retail customer service

What is retail customer service?

Retail customer service is like any other customer service: it’s the act of providing customers with assistance, answering their questions and helping them solve problems. However there are some factors specific to this industry that make it important to learn and hone retail customer service skills. Doing so will lead to happier, more loyal customers.

Retail customer service can be difficult, but Zendesk can help make it easier with customer service software. In addition to properly training customer service agents, using Zendesk enables retailers to stand out in a busy crowd.

A different approach to retail customer support

Retail customer service has always been important. Successful brands like Nordstrom and Costco have an almost mythical reputation for doing whatever it takes to provide their customers with excellent service. But that high level of service tended to be an outlier; for many companies, customer service was an afterthought. However, the growth of online stores and the saturation of the retail space has created a scenario where dissatisfied customers can easily abandon retailers, even ones they’ve been customers of for years, and move on to a competitor.

The result: customer experience, particularly in the digital world, is now a competitive differentiator among retailers, and the retailer who provides the best retail customer experience will win.

Best practices for retail customer service

The importance of retail customer service skills cannot be understated. However, it’s not always easy for retailers to provide the level of service they’d like. The changing landscape of consumer expectations and evolving technology make it difficult to stay relevant. Here are some retail customer service tips:

  • Listen first. Like with sales or marketing, it doesn’t matter if it’s a face to face interaction in a store, a conversation on the phone, or a live chat, nobody likes impersonal customer service. Listen to what the customer wants, not what you think they want, and help them accordingly.
  • Give customers what they’re looking for upfront. Many customers will prefer to help themselves before asking for it. Clearly display things on retail websites like return policies, shipping costs, payment options, brick and mortar locations, sale details, and more.
  • Don’t just exist in every channel; optimize too. It’s not enough to offer a mobile version of your online store or build a lightweight app. True multichannel customer service means understanding how customers use the various channels and optimize experiences accordingly. Maybe people like to browse on mobile, shop on desktop, ask for help on chat, complain on Twitter, and share pictures of what they just bought on Instagram. Track this behavior and build better experiences for them.
  • Get on with it. Customers want their questions answered, their problems solved, and they want to get on with their lives. It’s good to be personable and behave like a human being, but not at the expense of expediency. Good retail customer service is fast customer service.

How Zendesk helps

Retail customer service can be difficult, but Zendesk can help make it easier. In addition to properly training customer service agents, using Zendesk enables retailers to stand out in a busy crowd. With Zendesk, retailers can:

  • Offer seamless support on any channel. From email to live chat software to social media, Zendesk allows retailers to provide the same great support. And since all interactions and customer data live in a single location, customer service agents will have a picture of who their helping, making it possible for them to give their support a personal touch.
  • Measure and improve. Zendesk includes customer service reporting dashboards that give a complete view of the health of a customer service team. Powerful insights about everything from an individual agent to the entire department illustrate what’s working well and what needs to be improved.
  • Self-service options. Zendesk’s help center software puts the power in the hands of the customer: Share important information with knowledge base softare, build engagement with community software, and give customers access to their own account with customer portal software.

The right time

The retail space continues to grow, and there’s no reason to expect that this will change anytime soon. Any company that wants to be successful, to earn customer loyalty and build customer experiences that beat out the competition should invest in retail customer service.

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