Around one-third of Halfords customers check the company’s website before entering its stores, according to new research revealed today.
Some 80 per cent of the bicycle and car parts retailer’s shoppers visit the company’s stores with the aim of purchasing a specific product, while 60 per cent would like the opportunity to offer feedback on their experiences in dealing with the business.
These findings come from customer service specialist Emphatica, which has just completed a three-month pilot programme into the requirements and opinions of those who shop with Halfords.
Partly as a method of measuring the response to the retailer’s recently-launched ‘That’s Helpful, That’s Halfords’ marketing campaign, and as a way of identifying where customer service needs to be improved, the study is seen as providing a vital steer on the company’s future plans.
Steve Marson, Retail Operations Director at Halfords, said that the insight gained from the research will help ensure the company provides the best shopping experience possible for its customers, as well as deliver on its latest ad campaign promise.
“It’s important that we deepen our understanding of our customer needs in order to build an appealing brand personality and remain competitive,” he added.
“Empathica’s approach tells us what our customers feel about our products and customer services.”
With a dearth of customers on the high street and with the retail industry fighting hard to attract cash-strapped shoppers through their doors, ensuring fundamental retail strategies like customer service are right is becoming an increasingly essential consideration for all businesses.
A conference hosted by sector skills council for the retail industry Skillsmart earlier this month discussed how today’s discerning shoppers are less likely than before to put up with poor customer service.
It also warned that, due to the advent of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, customers have the ability to tell thousands of people about their bad experiences within a matter of minutes.
Halfords, which has signed a contract with Emphatica that will see its customer experience programme implemented across all of its 466 stores, also intends to use the company’s social networking app GoRecommend, which allows satisfied purchasers to recommend a brand or product via Facebook, Twitter and email.
It is clear that conducting conversations with customers is vital if retailer’s want to have some level of control surrounding what is said about them online.
The headline speaker at the recent Skillsmart event, Co-founder and CEO of fashion e-tailer Asos.com Nick Robertson, said this is true of all retail businesses, whether they operate with a multichannel or online-only format.
“We get thousands of queries every day, which we must respond to quickly and correctly,” he explained.
“We are constantly trying to improve our customer service by listening to customers about what we’re doing right and wrong.
“Social media gives us access to our key demographic and we have to embrace the challenges and opportunities which come from having a two-way conversation with our customers.”