Better Customer Service for more Business Success

5 Examples of how Brick-and-Mortar Retailers use Customer Service

Nothing kills a customer’s shopping experience more than bad customer service. Think about it – from rude store associates to unpleasant service mistakes, there are more than enough reasons to avoid visiting a store again. Unless your service is so strikingly different that the customers have no choice than to visit your store again, you can’t allow yourself to make these mistakes. You will push your customers directly into the arms of your competitors. According to an American Express Survey, 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.

Going the extra mile for your customers is not only going to increase loyalty among current customers, but also attracts new masses of consumers that will solely visit your store because your business is known for its customer service. More than half of U.S. consumers express loyalty by recommending brands to family and friends, and almost half of those consumers stay loyal to those recommended brands. It can be your differentiator, it can set you apart from your competitors and make you stand out. A RightNow Technologies Customer Experience Report found that 86% of U.S. adults are willing to pay more for a better customer experience and 73% of U.S. adults said a friendly customer service made them fall in love with a brand.

Barkeeper - Customer Service

But what does good customer service look like? Retail has undergone massive changes in the last two decades, mostly because of the rise of E-commerce. Thus, channels of communication have radically changed, impacting the way businesses and customers interact with each other. The standards of a good customer service experience are ever-changing, but there are some new golden rules that you should definitely follow. Here are 5 examples of great customer service.


1. Integrate Social Media into your Customer Service Strategy – Nike:

Social Media is where modern day communication takes place, so why should brands communicate differently with their consumers? Communication on social media is personal and direct, which is why it’s the best way to truly connect with people. It also allows brands to spread messages far beyond their normal audience and they might even go viral. This creates an incredible opportunity for companies but can also quickly turn into a nightmare if not handled correctly. Customer service via social media allows potential customers to see how you treat and serve existing customers. If your brand only receives negative posts and comments of disappointed customers and you are not able to solve these problems, your social media presence can also destroy your business. This is why your social media presence needs an extra amount of attention.

See how Nike is handling it: the brand has dedicated its social media accounts just to customer service such as @NikeSupport on Twitter. Not only is this improving customer service efficiency and quality, but it is also successfully separating Nike’s content and marketing campaigns on their main accounts from customer service inquiries. The customer service can work individually on helping customers without distracting from the carefully crafted marketing campaigns which are rolled out on the main accounts. While the main Nike account has tweeted nearly 30,000 times, the account dedicated to customer support has sent 493,000 tweets. In addition, the customer service account is available seven days a week and can assist people in six different languages.


2. Get to know your customers and use the power of personalization – Starbucks:

Many brands are still underestimating the power of personalization in customer service. Customers love personalization because it makes them feel valued and shows that the brand cares enough about its customers’ individual needs instead of just offering standardized solutions. Offering personalized customer service starts with small things such as remembering customers’ names and previous conversations. In fact, 66% of customers expect brands to know their personal information and service history when they reach out for support. Starbucks is a pro in creating a personalized shopping experience. In March 2012 Starbucks launched a new campaign focusing on improving relationships between their staff and customers. Each person who introduced themselves by name received a free latte and in total, more than 350,000 free drinks were given away.


3. Take care of your customers’ wellbeing during the shopping process– IKEA:

The biggest reason why people still go shopping in brick-and-mortar stores instead of making their purchases online is because they just enjoy the experience of wandering through the store and trying new products. A positive store atmosphere is key to ensure a positive in-store experience but how can you create that? You must fulfill your customers’ needs while they are in your store to make them feel comfortable. It shows customers that you care about their wellbeing and not only about your own profits. IKEA is a great example of how retailers can take care of customers’ wellbeing during the shopping process. Shopping at IKEA can turn into an hours-long affair which can be very exhausting. Therefore, IKEA stores have food courts that serve affordable meals like breakfast platters and sometimes even give away free meals on long holiday weekends. Not only will customers be more satisfied, but also willing to stay longer because they don’t have to deal with the pressing problem of hunger anymore.

Customer Service - IKEA
Photo: IKEA

To effectively set up a store layout that caters to customers needs, retailers can use the help of modern Retail Analytics technology to analyze footfall and customer flow in the store. This will not only help brands to understand how customers are moving inside of a store, to improve store layout but also help retailers gain important insights into customer in-store behavior based on predefined KPIs such as dwell time or peak hours.


4. Set up an effective Damage control strategy – Amazon:

No matter how well organized your customer service is, it is nearly impossible to avoid mistakes. Sometimes it might not even be your fault. However, it is still important to take responsibility for bad customer service if you don’t want your brand to be associated with a bad reputation. Amazon always strives for high quality in customer service and understands the importance of damage control. In 2007, an Amazon customer ordered a new PlayStation for his son for Christmas. When the parcel arrived the customer was away and a neighbor signed for the package. The neighbor then left the package outside the customer’s house where it soon disappeared. Even though Amazon was not to blame for this mistake, they quickly resolved this problem by not only sending a new PlayStation in time for Christmas, but also not charging for the extra shipping.


5. Don’t be afraid to show personality – Zappos:

At the end of the day, the best customer service is the one that shows the brand from a more personal side. Showing your customers that behind the well-organized customer service are actually real people with personalities, can help customers connect with your brand on a new level and make your company stay in peoples’ head. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing store is well known for its creative and unusual, but very effective customer service. When a customer ordered shoes from Zappos, they fell apart shortly after receiving them. After the customer contacted the customer service, they received one of the most creative and helpful responses.

Customer Service - Zappos

Customer Service can make or break a business

In times of online shopping, customers expect more and more from brick-and-mortar stores. Online stores have tons of information about their customers and they use them to create unique shopping experiences and create a helpful and personal customer service. To keep up with online players, brick-and-mortar retailers must get to know their store visitors. With the help of retail analytics, brands can collect important in-store data about their customers gaining success-defining insights about store efficiency and customer service quality. This builds an important foundation for improving and creating a unique customer service experience that will not only increase loyalty among existing customers, but also attract new customers.