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Retailers must improve customer service

Poor customer service is losing Australian businesses customers, particularly to the online space, according to Timothy Millett, director of training and development for i perform.

Online storefronts already compete on price, but a lack of ‘old-fashioned’ customer service skills in physical retail stores give customers no real incentive to stay loyal to traditional retail.

“Organisations focused on customer experience generally outperform their competitors 2:1 in revenue growth and report 5-10% higher profit margins,” Millett reported, citing a US survey that found almost three in four people willing to buy 10% more from a store if service was superior.

“Retailers who are getting it right by creating superior customer experiences are not feeling the pinch. Luxury brands in particular are really dominating as they realise the value in training their front-line staff to give them expert product understanding and the knowledge of what it takes to satisfy the customer.”

He said even Australia’s biggest retailers are not immune to displaying poor customer service but as the Australian retail landscape changes, focus needs to switch from discounting to providing an improved retailing experience for the consumer.

Amber Scott, national field training manager for leading skin care brand Ella Baché, said it was particularly important to engage repeat customers in the beauty sector. “Our brand is based on a loyal client base, so it’s not just a once-off service they try, it’s something they use every single time.”

This was also true of the hospitality industry, where service was key to a consumer’s overall experience, said Stephane Laguette, vice-president of sales, marketing and distribution in the Asia-Pacific for Sofitel Luxury Hotels. “Excelling in customer service is the most important subject in our industry and it’s not easy to manage. That’s why we are continuing to invest in this area.”

Last year, a Morgan Research poll recognised Sofitel as the highest rating hotel brand for customer satisfaction.

How do you keep your customers happy?

Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh is a journalist with more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business, education, travel, health, and project management. She has specialised in business since 2003.

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