Customer experiences on both ends of the quality spectrum are memorable. A truly great interaction with a brand is hard to forget. A negative one is even harder. When we have a friendly experience as a consumer, our perception of the entire brand improves—and that’s what keeps us coming back for more.
Our research shows time and time again that great customer service goes a long way when it comes to building loyalty and increasing visit share. Making your brand synonymous with service takes more than a please and thank you at the register—below are a few key ways to get started.
Building a team
Service-oriented retailers don’t train service-oriented employees—they hire them. Developing team members who are already service-oriented means good service is simply built into their nature. With a strong service foundation, all the resources used in training will pay off exponentially in the day-to-day operations, and are more likely to stick.
There are a few ways your hiring process can help you determine who these employees might be. Situational interviewing is a great strategy. Offer a hypothetical high-stress situation that frequently comes up in the role. How would they handle it? Do they start barking orders or take a moment to assess the problem first? Ask questions to test emotional IQ. What are their hobbies and interests? Are they self-serving or other-oriented? Ask how they dealt with a challenging situation with a coworker at their last job. Did they seek effective resolution? Making the right choices now will pay dividends later on.
These strategies mean the hiring process might take more time, but that’s a good thing. Choosing the right fit now is a critical step that will save you time and resources in the long run—and that’s true at every level of the organization.
Leaders as servants
Great leadership is a no-brainer for any organization’s success. It attracts and retains the employees you’ve carefully hired and trained, sets the tone for customer and employee expectations, and inspires employees to embody company values. When you’re in the business of serving customers, great leadership means servant leadership. And there are a few specific ways to get it done.
Employee success and development is the first priority for servant leaders—and employees know it. Retailers that are known for great service empower team members to make their own decisions, celebrate their personal successes, take sincere interest in their personal lives, and provide incentives and benefits that aid in their development. Offering scholarships and training that help team members achieve their personal goals—both inside and outside of the workplace—is key in employee satisfaction. And when employees feel taken care of, they tend to stick around.
Great servant leaders also know the reality of the day-to-day experiences of their employees. No task is beneath them, and they’ve put in time at the store-level working the front lines. This sets a great service example to your employees—and it can reveal areas for improvement in your business model to keep your strategy at peak performance. It’s a win-win.
Once you’ve gotten your employees and leadership operating at full strength, your customers should see the benefits. Building a respect-focused company culture is a key building block in any winning CX strategy. Management has respect for themselves, their employees, and the brand. Employees feel valued and empowered—which makes it easy for them to show respect to your customers, too. Making eye contact, smiling, and providing personalized service are small ways to act out a respect-focused company culture—and your customers won’t forget it.
Good service also means anticipating customer needs. Training your employees to identify potential customer needs helps them be proactive in ensuring every person who comes through the door has a quality experience. Customers with unique needs might include an elderly shopper, a person with a disability, or a harried parent outnumbered by children. Empowering employees to identify and act on customer needs is huge in developing a winning CX program. You’ll keep these customers coming back again and again.
Sincere service yields serious results
Sure, implementing these strategies into your company culture seems daunting—but is the effort worth it? We ran an analysis on how good customer service scores impact other key drivers for some of our clients, and the results say yes.
In a recent study, we measured the impact Friendliness has on customer spending. Results showed, when locations executed customer service standards greater than 80% of the time in a friendly way, Overall Satisfaction tripled and customer tickets increased an average of 14% per transaction—at no additional cost to the retailer. A simple change in execution is all it takes to yield enormous bottom-line results.
Another quick service restaurant client measured the effect Friendliness of Team Member has on Problem Resolution. When a customer reported they were Satisfied with Team Member Friendliness, scores in Overall Satisfaction, Likelihood to Return, and Likelihood to Recommend increased significantly. Even when a customer encountered a problem, satisfaction with Team Member Friendliness yielded positive results on customer loyalty. And that’s what makes good service worth the effort.
Every brand and business model is different, so the same formula won’t always yield the same results. When brands adopt a service-focused culture, one thing is certain—the results are always positive. Building a brand on good customer service will always pay off, and it’s key to finding out what works best for your business.
Want to learn more about the real impact of excellent customer service? Download SMG’s case study, ‘One Stop—a UK convenience store retailer—does it right’ to learn more.Ken White