Three ways to make a difference in retail customer service

Making your brand synonymous with exceptional customer service doesn’t happen overnight, especially in the retail space.

In fact, if you look at Nordstrom, as this article points out, it’s taken the fashion retailer 115 years to create the finest shopping experience for its customers.

Sure, customers will always want quick, accurate and efficient customer service. But they also want brands to be human – meaning service has to be friendly, proactive, conversational, and even fun.

As a contact center / customer service provider for a number of the world’s top brands, here’s how we aim to make a difference for our retail and high-tech partners:

1. Employee engagement is ALWAYS where it’s at

Employee engagement will always be critical to the success of any brand. We’ve all been there, sitting on the phone with a contact center agent who really doesn’t care. Why don’t they care? Because they have checked out; they are disengaged and likely waiting for something better to come along.

But when an agent is engaged, watch out! Engaged agents are empowered agents. They are emotionally connected to their work, which means they strive to deliver the best service possible.

We’ve seen this first hand with our own clients. For one of our online gaming clients, when agent engagement topped 80% (world-class for any kind of company), Net Promoter Scores (NPS) increased by more than 15%, and the company’s revenue grew 12% – all in the span of one year.

To create that boost in agent engagement, which we measured through our annual companywide survey administered by Aon Hewitt, we implemented our “moment of truth” program. That program empowered our frontline team members with in-game knowledge and a mandate to solve player issues in real time, across channels like social media and player forums.

Takeaway: make employee engagement a priority and amazing results will follow. 

2. Witness the rise of the super-agent

With all the talk about omni-channel retailing, we should also be talking about the need for super agents. In order to deliver a consistent experience across all channels, you need people who can actually serve customers via phone, email, chat and social media. To take it one step further, equip those agents in both customer service and sales. That way, your customers will never be handed off to another channel or a different agent ever again. Now, finding these “super” people capable of assisting everyone in all channels is easier said than done (that’s where effective training comes in), but the point here is to ensure that all customer service agents are trained to their full potential in a consistent manner. If an agent doesn’t know how to help a customer, is it their fault – or yours?

For a quick hit of inspiration, just imagine having to train the tech agents responsible for providing “Mayday support” on Amazon Kindle devices. This feature allows users to receive on-device tech support from an Amazon expert just by tapping the “Mayday” button. Amazon reports Mayday is a success, but not all support requests are serious. Imagine training reps to help people pass a level of a video game (Angry Birds, in one case), to help order pizza, to arrange a marriage proposal, to sing Happy Birthday…the list goes on.

3. Demand obsessive focus on details

It’s interesting that when you visit Disneyland or Nordstrom, their cast members (Disney) and salespeople (Nordstrom) rarely ever point. In fact, employees at Disney are trained not to point with just one finger, because in several cultures, pointing is considered rude. Likewise, at Nordstrom, if you have a question about where something is located, the salesperson will most likely walk you there vs. pointing to show you the way.

To point or not to point seems like such a small detail, but it’s exactly these details that impress customers most. Disney focuses on exceeding customer expectations with what they call “little WOWs.” Big WOWs are expensive and hard to sustain, but little WOWs involve minor, inexpensive details that serve to surprise and delight customers. The opportunity to create “little WOWs” in the retail space when it comes to customer service remains huge.

Final word

The retail space will remain crowded and competitive, but customer service can be a true differentiator. We’ve shared three ideas for inspiration that we continue to discuss with our own contact center clients. There are many more ideas and examples out there, and we’d love to hear from you. Customer service leadership is both a journey and a team sport. In our view, the best retail companies will continue to lead with creativity that focuses on always putting customers first, and the little WOW factors.

For further insights into customer service leadership and the importance of corporate culture, including employee engagement, grab our free research paper, which we co-developed with Frost & Sullivan:

The Culture Value Chain

Creating a profitable approach to customer service through agent engagement – with Frost & Sullivan

Download PDF

Contact an outsourcing expert Contact an
outsourcing expert

Let us answer your questions, provide more details, or share our industry expertise.

Get in touch

End-customer quote

I can’t believe what a great experience I had speaking with [client] today. I felt like the specialist reached right through the phone and gave me a big hug.

Customer testimonial after speaking with a TELUS International agent for a global cosmetics retailer

Did you know?

TELUS International is a subsidiary of TELUS Communications, Canada's fastest-growing national telecommunications company, with $13 billion in annual revenue and 12.8 million subscriber connections.