Competition in the retail industry is becoming more intense every day, and even established brands are not immune to the ever-changing whims of consumers. And with big retailers collapsing left and right, it often seems like the odds are stacked against the small players. Startups have to work twice as hard just to get noticed in a saturated market, and many businesses put money into cutting-edge tools to gain an edge over their competitors.

But what if the solution is less complicated than we think? Yes, the industry is advancing at a breakneck pace, but some things never change. If we want to attract customers, the answer is simple: we need to invest in customer service.

Even if you have the best product in the world and the best team money can buy, your company won’t grow if your customers don’t like dealing with you and your brand. A retail brand’s energies should be focused on improving its customer services, and investing in the right tools to support relationships. Even something as simple as buying an 0345 number can do a lot to foster customer goodwill.

Here are a few ways to improve the customer experience:

Learn to listen

When interacting with a customer, we often feel the urge to provide solutions right away, especially if they’re complaining about your service. But in many cases, the customer wants to be heard, and it’s your job to provide a lending ear.

Some customers have questions, some are angry, while others want to talk. Regardless of what they say they want, it’s essential to show interest in them and make them feel heard. Empathizing with what they feel is sometimes more important than solving the problem.

Always improve your processes

You can’t pigeonhole customers into set categories in the name of efficiency. When you streamline communication, a lot can get lost in the mix. Every customer is different, and the outcome of the interaction depends on how you deal with the situation.

It helps to have customer-facing employees who can sense a customer’s mood and react accordingly. That way, they can provide the most relevant solution without seeming too eager or complacent. Always look for better ways to address support situations.

Ask for feedback

And I’m not talking about a survey at the end of a support call. When communicating with customers, you need to make sure that they understand what you’re saying. There are usually times when your employees say one thing but the customer perceives it differently.

Ask for confirmation from the customer at every step of the communication process. Avoid negative language and make sure the customer understands what you’re saying before ending the conversation.

Don’t lie

 woman talking by telephone while working with laptop in office

Customers expect your customer-facing employees to be experts about your products and services. It’s your job to provide the necessary training so they can respond to technical questions, at least know who to ask when their inquiries become too tricky.

If you don’t know the answer, do not lie. It’s best to admit ignorance than to produce a solution that may or may not be valid. Customers will appreciate the honesty but don’t leave them hanging. Exert reasonable effort to find the correct answer.

In a market full of companies with the same products and services, customer service is often the most critical differentiator. Customers are more likely to support a business with excellent service, even if another company has superior products. As long as you understand that, you’ll have a better chance of growing your business.

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