18 March 2020

New customer service trends to try right now

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By Tricia Barglof
I don’t want to date myself, but when I was in college *cough* 20 years *cough* ago, I worked part-time at a well-known national retail store in the mall to help pay my way through college.  The corporate customer service expectation of all the retail employees was to make sure each customer was greeted within 60 seconds of entering the store.  I remember our manager coming around and often asking us if we had greeted the customer up in the front of the store looking at a pair of jeans.  We were a friendly bunch, fortunately, and usually didn’t miss a person.
Fast forward to the year 2020, and while the customer expectation is still to be greeted by a friendly face, today’s smarter, more mindful and often demanding customer is expecting so much more. Today’s shopper is no longer looking for customer service, but customer success. What’s the difference? A short definition of customer service is ensuring a client is happy with the product, service and other components of the buying process. Customer success is helping guide the client through their ‘customer journey’ by giving them all the information needed in a timely manner to make their buying decision. 
It can be a daunting task to satisfy today’s customer, but there are a few things you can implement -both in-store and online – to help grab your customer’s attention:
Responsible Retail: Set Strategies Around Sustainability
There are stories in the news every day in regards to climate change and global warming, and that is leaving a lasting impression with today’s retail customers. Many are often asking themselves: “What can I do to help make a difference?” One new partnership announced recently is between Gap Inc and secondhand online retailer, ThredUp.  When customers turn-in their gently used clothes at any of the Gap Brand stores, they will receive a credit to be used at any of the retailer’s locations. This is a great example of both the customer and retail store contributing to help the environment and also gives the customer a discount to encourage purchasing a new item in the store. 
By implementing a strategy such as using harvested materials, recycled packaging or investing in efficient shipping and delivery methods will show you are making a decision to help reduce your store’s carbon footprint and doing what you can to help the environment. 
This is an excellent way to attract younger shoppers, build brand loyalty and lifetime value.
Being Socially Responsible in Your Community
Retailers that have a social responsibility plan can often enjoy positive reputations, which can create competitive advantages. The ability to demonstrate that your store is positively engaged with customers and local communities can be a powerful differentiator that can enhance brand recognition, propel public relations initiatives, and increase customer traffic.
Creating special products for charity, participating in events that promote giving, donating revenue or products, or sponsoring a community initiative are just some of the ways you can engage with your local community.  
Think of creative ways to promote shopping in your community, while helping local community organizations and families get back on their feet.  
Convenience-Seeking Customer
During National Retail Federation’s (NRF) last annual convention, they released a report showing 83% of consumers say convenience while shopping is more important to them than it was five years ago. The report further states that 97% of respondents have backed out of a purchase because of some inconvenience.  93% are more likely to shop at a certain retailer based on convenience.
What does that mean for today’s retailer?  More and more consumers are utilizing the buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) model.  When retailers develop strategies to encourage BOPIS, shoppers can have more time to do their research on a product beforehand, can easily pick-up their new purchase at your counter, and be in and out of the store during a time that’s convenient for them.
With more and more demand on a customer’s time, retailers need to come up with efficient ways to quickly and easily give them what they want.  For retailers, the ability to offer their customers a seamless shopping experience across all channels is imperative.
Consumers want it all – that’s not new. But they have a larger set of options than ever before. What one shopper finds convenient might be just the opposite for another; how they want it today might not be how they want it tomorrow. There is no single right answer. The solution is to offer options for consumers — options that allow them to know where their hard-earned dollars are going and that they can feel good about their purchasing decisions.  If you can come up with a few new ideas that are relevant and important to the demographic of your customer, I would call that a success!
Invest in new customer trends this fall and source the merchandise your shoppers really want at the next OFFPRICE Show, August 15-18 in Las Vegas, or through OFFPRICE365.com, our online marketplace. Registration to open online soon.


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