Today’s retail paradigm has shifted to focus largely on people rather than on the product. The success of retailers is to a larger extent determined by how a product is sold rather than the product itself. Particularly for traditional retailers of brick-and-mortar stores, face-to-face interactions and relationship building have become the key differentiators in making sure customers keep coming back. Whereas customers mostly shop online for convenience, they shop in-store for a good customer experience.

Customer service, Customer satisfaction, Customer loyalty

And how do retailers ensure a superior customer experience? By providing good customer service. According to a study, (Dr. Emel Kursunluoglu, 2011), customer satisfaction and loyalty are invariably related to customer service and the quality of staff interaction. By ensuring that your customers are happy and satisfied, they may come back and may even be willing to chip in with a little more. In fact, 9 out of 10 (U.S.) consumers say that they would be willing to pay more to ensure a superior customer experience (FreshDesk, 2018).

To further illustrate the benefits reaped from a superior customer service, the following graph shows the effect of positive staff interaction on customer satisfaction, grouped by different types of retailers:

It’s particularly in Fashion retail that positive staff interaction turns out to be a key contributor in creating satisfied customers – with a whopping 73% increase in customer satisfaction! Overall, there is a potential increase of 33% in customer satisfaction waiting to be obtained simply by investing in better customer service. In terms of costs, retaining customers are also known to be less costly than acquiring new ones (McKinsey, 2006) – So not only is there an incentive for retailers to increase turnover by converting more regular customers into loyal customers, they also benefit from cost savings by not having to resort to acquiring new, costly customers.

What makes up a good retail customer service experience?

According to an article from Freshdesk, there are several essential elements, which must be in place for retailers to ensure a superior customer service. These are the following:

  1. Competent service representatives and sales people
  2. The ability for customers to get information and solve problems on their own
  3. Personalization
  4. Engaging at a time convenient to the customer
  5. Predictable and customer friendly processes and experiences
  6. Manage expectations with timely communications

Overall, it’s about having trained sales professionals that know how to service customers with what they need, in the right way and at the right time.

How does people counting and retail analytics contribute to better customer service?

Now, one thing is to know that customer service is important, another is to act on it. How do we ensure that we are catering to the needs of all customers? And more importantly, how do we measure our progress?

People counting and retail analytics solutions provide retailers with a hands-on tool, which they can use to respond in real-time to customers’ needs. Furthermore, they also provide them with a database of historical data to look back to and to make predictions from.

Shift scheduling according to peak times in footfall
By subscribing to a people counting solution, retailers can access data about when traffic levels in the store are expected to rise and fall during the year, month, week and day. With knowledge about historical trends, they can plan ahead and make sure to schedule shifts so that there’s always a sufficient number of staff deployed during peak times. This would not only reduce stress for staff members as no-one is overburdened with having to service too many customers at the same time, but also increase customer satisfaction, because each customer would receive the full attention of the staff members on duty.

Measure queue length and wait time
Our people counting solution also provides retailers with information about the average queue length and wait times of each customer. By enabling real-time alerts attached to the live data, retailers can react immediately and reduce wait time by e.g. opening another cash register. This would undoubtedly be considered as good service for customers. Time is money, and by reducing customers’ wasted time spent on waiting, retailers convey the message that they also think of their customers’ time as being valuable.

Customer interaction time
With our staff detection and engagement solution, retailers can measure the amount of time customers have to wait before they are serviced as well as the time customers spend interacting with the staff. If the historical data shows a positive correlation between interaction time and number of transactions, these measures would be informative indicators of good customer service. If the opposite is evident, it would be good idea to investigate the underlying reasons.

Personalized customer service
Good customer service is also about adjusting one’s communications to match each customer. With our people counting solution, information about the distribution of age and gender in the store would give staff a clue about how to act depending on what the target group is during different times of the day. Based on this information, retailers can also ensure that their staff gets the appropriate specialized training to cater to the preferences of each specific target group. Another way of using the data for timely communications is to make screens and displays directly interactive with the live demographic data, so that customers currently inside the store will receive information appealing directly to them.

In short, while customer service is indeed made up of many different factors, which cannot all be solved by solely relying on technological means, people counting and retail analytics solutions still provide a good fact-based foundation for ensuring a positive staff interaction and ultimately, happy customers.

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