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Retailers need to go back to basics and invest in staff training

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Experts have been predicting the shift from online shopping to offline shopping for some time now, but recent research suggests that retailers could potentially increase their in-store sales with small changes.

Retail experience specialist Red Ant has released the findings of the UK Shopper Satisfaction Study, a quantitative survey of 2,000 UK consumers that took place last month, highlighting the nation’s biggest vexations when shopping.

The survey revealed that 43% of shoppers believe the service offered on retailers’ websites is more intuitive than the level of service available in store. According to the study, a major factor is the poor quality of the customer experience given by unknowledgeable and unproductive staff. UK consumers’ discernment is such that 1 in 5 shoppers feel personal smartphones will answer questions just as well, if not better, than sales assistants.

The research by Red Ant found that 38% of shoppers will leave a store if they are left waiting more than 3 minutes while a sales assistant deals with a stock enquiry. Key complaints against sales assistants include dismissive attitudes (53% of consumers found this the most annoying trait), poor product knowledge and staff chatting amongst themselves on the shop floor.

Throughout the findings, technology was referenced as a source for improving customer service with 34% of customers believing sales assistants should be armed with tablets in order to compensate for their lack of product knowledge.

The discoveries come approximately a year after Red Ant commissioned research on staff attitudes towards working in competitive retail environments, asking 1,000 retail workers aged 18 - 55 questions on customer service. Summarised findings of the candid research found that 50% of retail workers were embarrassed by their limited product knowledge at the time they were asked. 43% of survey participants even admitted to lying to customers every week because of this.

While the implementation of employee-facing mobile technology is being adopted amongst retailers and is certainly an asset, businesses need to reconsider their staff training strategy so that sales assistants do not rely on hand held devices to inform customers. In the first instance, this would be more cost-effective anyway.

Published on Wednesday 17 September by Editorial Assistant

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