Customer Care: A Conundrum That Requires Innovation And Simplicity
By Jarrod Johnson, vice president, Retail and Consumer Products, IT Services, Xerox
It’s an all too common experience.
A shopper is ready to buy and a sales associate is nose down straightening shirts and ties. The shopper has to alert the associate, who then looks for the specific item in a specific size. Sorry. Out of stock. One lost sale. One lost shopper, maybe forever.
It’s a profit-changing dilemma for retailers, who may not yet recognize one primary reality: the negative shopping experience and a shopper’s unmet expectations. Regardless if it’s a people or product problem, one bad experience translates into lost revenue.
Caring for customers—and generating loyalty— isn’t easy. Whether you’re a retailer, consumer product company or a service provider like Xerox, customer care is dynamic and intrinsically fluid. There is no definitive recipe for it. But there are key ingredients. Attracting shoppers, and keeping them for life requires innovation and simplicity. Here are three:
Three Ways to Care for Customers
- Train Up. Customer care starts with associates on the front line. They matter. If they’re well- trained and treated well and are enabled to perform, they work harder and smile more. Consider training beyond policies, procedures and point-of-sale systems. Think motivation, personal development, even life skills. Note to self: It’s not the quantity of training; it’s the quality of training and topics that impact performance. It’s also about follow-up. Finish the training, and then track performance.
- Stock Up. Stock means product to most of us, but stocking up is more about who and when your employees are working at a store. I can’t tell you how many retailers acknowledge the need for staffing up stores during peak times, yet cost-conscious store managers hold back to meet budgets. Result: sales walk out the door and ROI plummets. Finding this balance in motivation is what separates the winners and losers.
- Tool Up. The empowered shopper is bombarding your associates with photos from their smart phones, “Do you have this?” Associates dash to the stock room or scurry for insights. Why not “mobile-ize?” Find ways to get that information – in a way that fits your brand and style – into a format associates can consume on the go. Keep it simple, but do something. It can -be affordable, and consumer demands can be met.
These are simple starters. They aren’t nirvana or transformational, overnight. Excellence takes time and effort. Most importantly, it takes commitment.
What do you think are the key ingredients for providing outstanding customer care? Please share your comments below and follow us on Twitter at @XeroxRetailIT.