What Matters Most for Retail Customer Support

Pricing, location and product selection used to be the primary attributes retail companies focused on to set themselves apart from the competition. But with competitive pricing across the board and an increasing reliance on an omnichannel shopping experience, retailers are turning their attention to customer experience as a differentiator. According to Forrester, customer experience was the first priority for leading businesses in 2015, and will continue to be a priority in 2016.

Help Scout found 59 percent of consumers were willing to switch to other companies in search of a better customer experience, and Parature is predicting retail companies will redirect 50 percent of their R&D budget into customer experience improvements. Your retail customer support plays a large part in whether your customers have a good-quality experience, but how do you discover the customer experience metrics you need to improve?

Customer Satisfaction Scores

Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) let you reach out to retail customers to get direct feedback on their experience. You typically send out a survey with questions relating to their recent shopping experiences. The customers choose whether they were satisfied, dissatisfied or neutral on a numerical scale. The breadth of questions you can cover with CSAT is its main benefit.

The downside of CSAT is that it looks at each interaction individually, making it a poor tool if you want to gauge satisfaction trends over time with repeat customers. CSAT surveys are sent out via email, printed on receipts, and included in follow-up communication with your customers.

Net Promoter Scale

The net promoter scale (NPS) seeks to categorize your customers into one of three categories: promoters, passives or detractors. You ask one question to gauge whether the customer would recommend your brand.

Promoters are highly satisfied customers who are loyal to your brand and recommend you to friends, family and their social network. They act as a strong brand advocate and are repeat customers. Passives have a good experience, but they aren't passionate about your brand. They don't need much of a reason to switch to another brand if they see a better deal or feel that they'll get a better experience elsewhere. Detractors are highly dissatisfied with your brand, unlikely to shop with you again, and may post negative messages about you on social networks.

NPS provides good insight into customer loyalty and satisfaction, but the one-question format limits how in depth you can get with this method.

Customer Effort Score

The customer effort score, or CSE, is a relatively new way of measuring your retail customer service. You gauge how much effort customers have to put in to do business with you. You can ask just one question about the overall shopping experience or ask questions about each stage of a customer's shopping journey. The drawback to CES is that the answers to these questions don't identify the cause of the difficulties in the shopping experience.

Social Media Responsiveness

Your retail company's social media channels are valuable as a customer support channel, but you only realize the benefits if you stay on top of customer contact. Monitor your social media responsiveness to make sure customer support inquiries are answered quickly. If you don't have the resources to monitor social media 24/7, provide clear customer support hours for your profile.

The retail customer experience is critical for standing out in the competitive landscape, and metrics give precious insight into how your customers feel about their shopping experience. Examine the trends that these metrics reveal to identify critical areas for improvement.

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March 07, 2016