Three ways to up your customer service game

In a time where consumers have no shortage of choice in the retail world, it can be hard for merchants, particularly in the grocery industry, to differentiate from the competition.

That’s why it’s imperative to provide exceptional customer service—a key way to build loyalty among customers and, as recent studies show, make a significant impact on sales.

So, just how important do Canadian retailers think customer service is to their business?

The short answer is: it’s crucial. The third annual American Express Canadian Retail Insights Report which surveyed decision makers in the restaurant, fast food, grocery, gas and general retail sectors, revealed 82% of retailers cited better customer service experiences as the reason behind their jump in sales. In the grocery sector, 87% of businesses surveyed are investing in improving customer service in 2015, a 21% increase from last year. In addition to customer service, changes in technology and an evolving economic landscape also factored into how retailers are making business decisions.

Looking for innovative ways to stand out? Here are some tips to consider:

Be prepared for more competition. Within the grocery industry, almost a third of retailers (63%) are concerned about existing competitors and even more (66%) are concerned about new businesses entering the market. With 98% of grocers agreeing that customer service differentiates them from competitors, it’s important to invest in training and mentorship, arming staff with customer service skills that will give your business the edge.

Get creative with how you encourage loyalty. Retailers are also working hard to attract a new, long-term customer base as a way to maximize sales. For example, 82% of grocers aim to leverage sales, promotions and discounts to improve customer loyalty and 74% plan to expand product offerings or services to bring in consumers, a 15% jump from last year. Consider loyalty programs and promotions, such as leveraging data for unique customer offers, an extension of your approach to customer service. And always remember: it’s important to listen to feedback from your customers to ensure you’re designing programs that both provide a great experience, and positively impact sales.

Choose your channels wisely. While some retailers have cited substantial sales improvements from technology, only four per cent of grocers say e-commerce has made a positive impact on their bottom line. Although more and more retailers are adopting an online component, just 45% of the grocery industry believes this is relevant to their business. Can your business benefit from e-commerce? Think critically about how and when technology could improve your sales before incorporating it into your business so that it stimulates rather than hinders growth.

Reflecting on your business and incorporating these tips in a way that works for you can lead to a more loyal customer base and an improved bottom line. Great service is all about getting to know your customers so that you can cater to their needs.