Have you ever stood in line waiting to place an order and had the cashier tell you, “Hold on a second”, then look at someone behind you to ask, “Hey, so-and-so, do you want the usual?”

Odds are, that cashier probably thought he or she was providing great customer service by acknowledging you and helping a regular customer.

You probably didn’t feel that way, though. After all, no one wants to feel like they were passed over by a cashier giving preferential treatment to another customer—whether they’re a regular, or not.

This type of mistake tarnishes the customer experience and it certainly won’t inspire customers to return to your store.

7 Customer Service Mistakes Retailers Should Avoid

“Treating regulars better than first-timers is one of the top customer experience mistakes.” says The Retail Doctor.  He goes on to mention 6 more customer service mistakes retailers commonly make:

1. They leave a customer to go answer the phone

As you probably know, greeting a new customer in a manner that encourages them to open up to you as a trusted advisor takes a lot of time and effort. Disrupting your interaction to go answer a phone call breaks that bond you worked so hard to achieve.

The customer is left to wonder why they’re less important than a phone call and feeling like they’ll have to make a purchase decision on their own. If you return to that customer, you’ll have to start all over to reestablish trust. If you don’t return, you’ll either lose the add-on or the entire sale.

Is the call really worth it?

2. They push for a commitment without offering inspiration 

While it might be tempting to push the customer to commit to a purchase early in the sales process, it’s a darn good way to put them on the defensive.

Instead of asking the customer what their budget is or if they’re prepared to buy today, invest the time necessary to cultivate a relationship, listen closely to your customer’s needs, and build a case that compels them to say “Yes” to the sale.

3. They only sell what the customer asks for

When customers visit your store asking for a particular product, untrained employees might simply point to the area where the product should be or inform them that you don’t have it.

The problem with this approach is that you give up an opportunity to show customers other options you have in stock that will do the same thing or work even better. That means the shopper never has the chance to compare and contrast products, and essentially makes your store’s success dependent on what customers ask for, not what you carry—a mistake that results in your store losing out on potential sales.

4. They ask, “Anything else?”

Cliché among retailers and restaurateurs, this question signals to the customer that you’re interaction is complete.

“Suggestive selling is where the profit is,” says The Retail Doctor. The first item you sell essentially pays for your overhead, but the add-on actually helps boosts your bottom line.

Build on what the customer told you was important during your initial conversation, then suggest one add-on that will enhance the purchase they’ve already agreed on.

5. They allow long lines at checkout

According to a TimeTrade survey of consumers across various verticals (retail, banking, healthcare, etc.), the average person is not willing to wait more than 10 minutes for service.

Today’s consumers are busy and consider their time to be very valuable. Long lines disrupt the purchase process. Customers who feel your lines are moving too slowly are more likely to abandon their purchase, costing your store potential revenue.

Even if customers wait in a long line to make a purchase, their memory of that experience won’t be a pleasant one and they’ll link your store with poor customer service because of it.

6. They provide omnichannel services at cost of coverage

Popular services such as Buy Online, Pick-up in Store (BOPIS) and Ship-from-Store require dedicated staff, space, resources, and advanced logistics to operate smoothly.

“These additional omnichannel services do not increase revenue as much as they increase costs,” explains The Retail Doctor. “Those unbudgeted expenses have to be made up somewhere, and it is typically seen as a reduction of staff on the sales floor.”

If you’re borrowing floor staff members to pick and ship orders, the focus of your store shifts from front-line customer service to serving the customers you can’t see. And if that results in dressing rooms filled with clothes, messy displays, and long lines, you risk frustrating customers, as well as losing them to competitors.

The Takeaway

As the customer experience grows increasingly important, retailers are still making surprising mistakes that diminish customer service.

Are you one of those retailers? The success of your retail store hinges on your ability to be laser-focused on the customers who enter your establishment so you can deliver first-rate service to new visitors and return customers alike.

If you want to build a loyal customer base, reduce customer effort. “Make life easier for your customers, and they’ll have a great reason to stick around,” suggests Groove.

An Omnichannel Solution

Find out how retailers like you are saving time and making money with the Rain POS system. POS, E-commerce, and Marketing all in one.

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and the eBook The Small retailer's Ultimate Guide to Increasing In-Store Sales. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.


Also published on Medium.

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