Conference Preview: Improved customer experience directly boosts loyalty and sales
Creating loyalty among customers is not just about creating programmes with reward mechanisms but is as much about providing a high quality customer experience that keeps shoppers coming back for more. By Glynn Davis
Ahead of participating in a panel discussion at the 4th Retail Bulletin Customer Loyalty Conference 2013 on June 12, Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), highlights the importance of customer service in engendering loyalty and ultimately increasing sales.
“For me it’s not about loyalty programmes, it’s about engendering loyalty through consistently good customer service. It’s how a retailer interacts with its customers – through good communications and empathy – that will result in more loyal customers to that particular company,” she suggests.
According to the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) produced annually by the ICS, the retail industry performs particularly well when compared with other sectors. The average score among non-food merchants is 85.2 and for food retailers it is 82.1, which compares with the average across all sectors of a lesser 78.2.
She says this is a result of retailers increasingly “attuned to what customers want”, adding: “Perhaps they are thinking more broadly about the customer experience. It’s no longer about simply selling the Mars Bar in the shop it’s about the experience from the staff and them helping customers. They are delivering more than just a purchase.”
For those that deliver exemplary customer service then it is clear it has an upside in terms of increased sales, according to Causon, who says: “If a retailer scores over 80 then they are more likely to get a return on their investment in customer service as you can see a direct correlation between high scorers and their market shares.”
She also states that where there is more satisfaction enjoyed by customers then they will spend more and make repeat purchases as well as being more likely to recommend that retailer to other people.
But Causon cautions that there is no room for complacency as customers have never been more demanding and through social media platforms they have the mechanisms to deliver their grievances to a massively wider audience of people than ever before: “The number of complaints being made is falling but when people have a problem then they’re more likely to do something about it.”
To ensure retailers stay on top of delivering a high level of customer service she says there are a number of key aspects to be focused on: professionalism; ensuring you are easy to do business with; being responsive to complaints; and having a good product, an efficiency of operation, and a quality offering.
For this to take place retailers must give full recognition to employee engagement. “They must motivate staff and reward them appropriately. These are softer skills but they are differentiators. Previously it used to be just about the product but now the softer side is more significant.
Although described as softer skills Causon says they do have a harder edge as they are ultimately a tool to drive extra sales as they engender increased loyalty. “Customer service is not soft. Saying have a nice day is commercial,” she suggests.
Jo will be joined by other expert speakers from Urban Outfitters, Costa Coffee, Boots, Carphone Warehouse, Space.NK.apothecary, M&Co, and many more so make sure of your place by registering now.
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