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Getting It Right: Customer Service Is Key To Ensuring Loyalty

Customer service continues to be an area of strong focus for retailers. In fact, most (86%) said they viewed customer service as very important to their organizations, followed by 64% who said efficient processing at the register/speed of service is top of mind, according to a recent Boston Retail Partners (BRP) benchmark study.

The study, titled: 14th Annual POS Benchmark Survey ― sponsored by Epicor, MICROS Retail and Retalix ― highlights the transformation of POS and other store system technology trends. More than 500 North American retailers participated in the annual POS benchmark study to provide insights into planned initiatives, priorities and future trends.

“As the competition for consumer dollars increases and the number of shopping options continues to expand,” the report noted, “customer service [will be] a key differentiator and those retailers who get it right can ensure strong customer loyalty.”

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Throughout the 14-year history of BRP POS survey, “customer service has remained a top priority for retailers,” said Ken Morris, Principal at BRP, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This precedence makes sense, especially as the industry has become more competitive and customers have more tools and information available to them to enhance their shopping experiences. Retailers need to continue to focus on offering customers a fast, efficient, and satisfying shopping experience to remain competitive.”

However, shopping channels have become less distinct. Customers easily move among channels and often shop via more than one channel simultaneously, the study revealed. The challenge for retailers today is to use game-changers such as mobile and omnichannel to their advantage, and continuously evolve with the consumer.

“The line between customer and associate has also blurred,” according to the report, “with customers sometimes having access to more information about a product than the associate, or the associate utilizing customer-facing tools and information to be as informed and knowledgeable about the product as the customer.”

While the report shows that consumers continue to utilize self-service options, retailers report that mobile POS has become a more useful element of the shopping experience. As the industry dives into the mobile sphere, smartphones will continue to offer consumers the capability to “take on customer service options such as price checks, scanning barcodes for product information or even as a checkout device.”

Mobile POS is a “must-have” — the customer requires it, Morris said. “We are already seeing retailers responding to this demand. When we asked our survey respondents about their current POS hardware device utilization and plans through 2014, we saw a large decline in the use of traditional hardware. Retailers are shifting their point-of-sale to mobile devices, including tablets and customer-owned mobile devices.”

The survey was conducted from October through December 2012. Key areas addressed in the report are:

  • Mobile;
  • Omni-channel;
  • Store;
  • POS;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Payment Technology; and
  • Marketing.
To access a copy of the 14th Annual Boston Retail Partners POS Benchmark Survey, click here.

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