Make great customer service your point of difference

Anyone working in the competitive retail industry can attest to the importance and value of providing good customer service. Particularly as online shopping grows in popularity, providing exceptional customer service is vital as it makes the ‘in-store’ experience worthwhile.

For retail suppliers of hardware, paint, gardening supplies and DIY materials, customer service is especially critical because of the added value it offers your customers in what is a very competitive market.

Advertising may win new customers, but quality service will keep them, and research indicates that most businesses earn between 60 and 70 percent of their income from existing customers. Studies also consistently show that providing good service leads to increased customer retention rates, which in turn reduces business costs. According to the NSW Office of Fair Trading, it can cost 3 – 5 times as much to attract a new customer compared to making the same sale to an existing customer!

How can you improve your customer service levels and thereby retain and grow your customer base? Some starting points include:

  • Provide clear product and services information. Customers like to know exactly what it is that you offer, so ensure your retail space features clear signage, information and displays and is both clean and attractive.
  • Help customers meet their needs. Ensure you provide friendly, helpful service. Listen to your customers’ questions and deal with them promptly but without rushing them.
  • Respond and follow-up. Ensure you respond promptly to telephone and email enquiries, as well as being helpful in face-to-face situations. Always follow-up enquiries as promised.

High quality service gives customers the confidence to shop with you frequently, creating in turn many regular ‘up sell’ opportunities. Moreover, your reputation as a provider of quality service and products will generate valuable dividends again and again as happy customers recommend your business to family and friends.