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Service trumps all in post-Covid retail world

Customer service has become the main driver of retail sales and brand loyalty in the post-Covid Australian retail world. 

Customer service expectations escalated during the pandemic, according to research by Humanforce, which found that a majority of Australian consumers think customer service is more essential now than it was before. In addition, approximately 80 per cent of consumers said they would not remain loyal once they received bad service. 

“Our survey has found that despite the negative flow-on effects of the economic downturn on retail, there is no room for retailers to drop the ball on consumer expectations,” said Clayton Pyne, CEO of Humanforce. 

“Australian consumers’ expectations since the pandemic began are sky high and their loyalty will be harder to attract than ever before. This means one bad experience or poor customer service interaction could see a shopper abandon their purchase, or even the entire brand forever, and [heading] straight to a competitor,” he added. 

According to the research, most consumers (89 per cent) expect staff to be friendly and helpful. Other expectations include staff’s knowledge of sales and promotions (69 per cent), products (64 per cent), staff’s ability to process purchases, returns and click-n-collect transactions quickly (62 per cent) and knowing when out-of-stock products or new products are due in store (59 per cent).

Moreover, the in-store experience has to meet the same expectations as online, which recorded growth during Covid-19. 

“The reality, though, is that churning through and not investing in retail workers will lead to sales associates that underperform and undermine customer service levels, sales and brand loyalty, during a time when retailers can least afford it,” Clayton added.

“Conversely, investing in retail sales associates over the long-term and ensuring they are engaged, well trained, knowledgeable, loyal and motivated, will help retailers to deliver the best possible customer experience to shoppers, helping to grow brand loyalty and sales.”

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