Business for traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers is becoming increasingly challenging as consumer shopping habits evolve and people spend more and more with online retailers. Many retailers are seeing fewer footsteps coming through their doors, making it difficult if not impossible to grow their business. If you are not getting more footsteps coming through your front door it stands to reason you would want to make the most of the customers who have taken the time and made the effort to come into your establishment.
One of the more underrated measures of how well a retailer is doing is measuring conversion. Conversion is about “converting” someone who walks into a business from a browser into someone who makes a purchase. E.g., if you have 500 potential customers walk through your doors in a given week and 200 of them make a purchase, your conversion rate would be 40%. Of course there are many factors that impact conversion, but one of the most important is customer service. If friendly, knowledgeable customer service is important in not only increasing conversion, but also selling more to each customer and building a loyal and dedicated customer base, why is most of the customer service we experience generally so bad?
I don’t think it is a coincidence that the oft-noted decline of common courtesy and public civility mirrors what most of us see as the generally deplorable state of customer service — be it retail, e-commerce, the cable company or your landscaper. If you ask anyone to relate a less than great customer service experience, most of us have a library of examples from which to choose. On the other hand, people are usually more challenged to come up with a shopping experience that was great specifically because of the customer service. While this blog will focus primarily on bricks-and-mortar retail, the basic principles of good customer service apply across a broad spectrum of retail and service industries.
Creating a customer-focused environment is challenging under any circumstances. Your focus and goals must be clearly articulated and managed. What makes it perhaps more complex, as I mentioned in a previous entry, is that a customer-focused environment must also be employee-centric. If we take care of our employees, the people on the front-line, and those who support them, they will care about and provide positive and rewarding experiences to our customers.