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7 Strategies to Deliver Exceptional Retail Customer Service With Less Staff

Updated: May 18, 2023

Maintaining excellent customer service in the face of rising labor costs, high turnover, and staff shortages is becoming increasingly challenging. This is especially true for operations managers in big box chains who must balance customer service demands with staff efficiency in areas like warehousing, restocking, and checkout.

A customer looking at a product in a retail aisle
Customer looking at products in a retail store

We've all heard stories of customers struggling to find assistance in stores spanning over 142,000 square feet. The footprint of the average big box store has increased by about 12 per cent over the last decade. Customers may start to limit their visits, or avoid going to big box stores altogether, if finding help is too challenging. So, how do we deliver exceptional retail customer service in the face of staffing challenges.

But it's not just the customers who face frustrations. Associates also find it challenging to handle constant customer requests while juggling their daily tasks. This can result in less-than-welcoming customer service responses and decreased productivity. Imagine how many miles a day the average associate must walk on the retail floor to meet and assist customers. What does that represent in "cost per service request" and lost productivity? Thankfully, there is a better way!

Here are seven innovative strategies retail operations and customer service leaders are using to deliver exceptional customer service at a lower cost:

1. Access customer service easily with QR codes on signage.

Allow customers to connect to associates for support through their phones. Offer them the choice to communicate how they are most comfortable by SMS, phone or video call. Follow up every service request with a comment card

2. Provide instant query resolution with AI-powered chatbots.

Many big box retailers have customer self-serve apps, but they are confusing and require an app download. Make self-serve apps easier to use by incorporating chatbots in a web based in-store app that guide customers to the right information. Always provide an option to connect with a live associate for personalized support.

3. Optimize stock checks with video call technology.

If customer self-serve stock checks are not available, you can enable video calls for remote stock checks. Reduce customer wait times, and drastically improve efficiency.

4. Ask for customer feedback at self-serve checkout.

The retail customer is often asked visit a website listed on the receipt to give feedback. With less than 1% of customers responding, it is hard to get a good understanding of your customers’ in-store experience. You can get more than 25% of customers sharing insights in real-time by collecting feedback during the payment process.

5. Alert managers to problems in real-time.

Most retail customer experience management systems are head office based. Enable real-time problem resolution with manager alerts. Empower store managers to solve problems, before they impact customer satisfaction and NPS scores.

6. Get associate feedback on both customer and team experiences.

Your associates ALWAYS know more about your customers than you do. Why? Because your customers speaking with them all day, everyday. Happy employees create happy customers. And, vice versa. Create opportunities for employees to share their insights and ideas through quick pulse checks and an idea board. Tap into their wealth of knowledge.

7. Use AI technology for performance benchmarking and KPI alerts.

Data is everywhere - dispersed amongst many applications. It is too plentiful to really get a handle on the most significant trends without the help of technology. Consolidate your data into a single platform and set KPIs to track and optimize operations. Leverage AI to generate reports and prioritize alerts, enabling informed decision-making

By utilizing these strategies, retailers can improve the experience of both customers and employees while optimizing associate productivity. Breathe easier as an operations manager, knowing that you're getting the best from your teams and stretching your labor budgets further.

Curious to learn more about what other operations managers are doing to tackle these challenges? Join our one-click poll to discover valuable insights and share your own experiences.

Together, we can overcome staff shortages, high turnover, and rising labor costs and thrive in the retail industry.


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