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How Not to Drive Your Customers Crazy

June 22nd, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

What are the top customer service complaints consumers have about retail stores? Overwhelmingly, rudeness was the biggest turn-off for shoppers in a survey of more than 6,000 consumers done for STORES by Prosper Technologies. (In STORES’ last survey on the topic five years ago, understaffed stores and uninformed employees tied for the number-one customer service complaint.)

What are other things that drive customers crazy?

  • Not being able to find help
  • Long lines and slow checkout
  • Confusing or misleading store policies regarding returns or coupons
  • Employees who aren’t familiar with products or can’t answer questions

While customers were more tolerant of poor service at warehouse or discount stores, close to one-fourth reported that specialty apparel stores had the worst customer service in terms of rude or unfriendly employees.

How can you ensure your retail store isn’t driving customers crazy with poor service?

Hire for attitude. It’s easier to teach a nice person how to work in your store than it is to teach someone how to be nice. Look for employees with a friendly, flexible and helpful approach.

Be aware of generational differences. Different generations have different expectations about service. While Gen X and Gen Y shoppers may be willing to turn to their mobile phone for information and advice about a product if they can’t get it from a store employee, Baby Boomers and seniors will want more hands-on help.

Focus on women. Women in the survey were less tolerant of poor service than men, so be sure your employees are aware that women are likely to have higher standards and expectations.

Keep employees up-to-date. Your staff needs to be knowledgeable about what you sell in order to compete with the lure of online shopping, where customers can get endless information about the products they’re considering.

Clarify expectations. Let retail employees know what you expect from them in terms of customer service. Things that seem obvious to you may not be that clear to young employees who have grown up in a digital world and have less experience in face-to-face interactions.

Image by Flickr user guillebot (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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