Original Content Sourced from the Australian Retailers Association

The importance of offering exceptional customer service.

The ever-changing digital market has resulted in a competitive marketplace for retailers. While some customers shop for entertainment purposes, others find the task daunting and unpleasant. With the majority of customers nestled in the middle ground between pleasure and necessity, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has developed strategies for retailers to implement into their business practices focusing on creating a positive shopping experience.

The ARA is Australia’s largest retail association representing the country’s $320 billion-dollar sector. As the retail industry employs over 1.3 million people, the importance of educating employees in this area will assist retailers in generating customer satisfaction, repeat business, and enhance corporate reputation and revenue. So how can employees create a positive shopping experience?

There is a variety of ways employees can approach the task. First, tailoring your services to individual needs can assist in ensuring the customer leaves your store with a memorable impression. For example, if a customer walks into a flower shop and is after flowers for her wedding, you could ask “When’s the big day?” or “What colour schemes have you chosen?”. Let’s say the customer says, “Well, my big day is in two weeks, and my colour schemes are white and lavender accents.”

The employee can then offer different types of flower combinations based on their responses. By asking these questions, the employee is exhibiting care and understanding, while also gaining direct insight into what the customer is after and therefore eliminating unwanted possibilities. Through asking a few simple questions, the employee has created a seamless and personalised experience for the customer.

Although offering quality products, appropriate pricing policies, and a pleasant store environment are essential, it is service that distinguishes between a positive shopping experience to a mediocre one.

The level of service business and its employee’s offer can significantly impact a customer’s impression of a store. The ARA has carefully examined the elements of a positive shopping experience including selling as a service, finalising a sale, and creating sales opportunities. Service is becoming the differentiating factor amongst competitive retailers, as premium service attracts customers. Retail employees can improve on service by focusing on delivery, after-sales and resolving customer complaints to ensure quality control, customer loyalty, and satisfaction.

Introducing appropriate products is also an essential facet of any business. Recommending products and services to customers is an exciting element of customer interaction, and having a service mindset will assist retailers and employees in achieving their service objectives. A service mindset includes a positive attitude, showing interest in the customer and their needs, being available to assist customers, listening attentively, and using clear, positive body language and facial expressions.

A prime example of a business that offers outstanding customer service and quality products are Bunnings. Bunnings aim to align operational policies, procedures, and practices with strategies for sales and services in accordance with their values. Bunnings have focused on refining their customer service skills, engaging communities and recognising employees as the heart and soul of the business. By generating core values ranging from providing customers with quality products at a low price, Bunnings has established itself as a competitive force in the home improvement market.

With the digital age in full effect, many retailers are integrating technology and enhancing the customer experience, and while this is a useful contribution to customer’s overall experience of a brand, it’s the service and expert knowledge delivered by employees that turns an average experience into an exceptional one.