Back to basics

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Pondering what the store of the future looks like has captivated retailers for all of time. But despite the proliferation of technology and mobile devices we’re nowhere close to wild predictions of interactive and internet connected mirrors in changing rooms made by some, as many retailers still can’t even get the basics right.

The technology is there for retailers to offer all kinds of futuristic services in stores, and geo-location based marketing tools and social networks are edging into the retail experience, but what use is any of that if consumers are still facing disappointing customer service?

In its latest piece of research, Arc, part of the Leo Burnett Group, looked at how the retail environment has changed and what that change means for consumers and retailers both online and on the high street.

One of its findings was that shoppers are largely unimpressed with the level of service they get in store.

The growth of online retail continues to outpace that of bricks and mortar retailers, who are facing ever increasingly tough times.

This in mind, it shocks me that more than a decade after online retail became mainstream, there are some retailers that are still not taking advantage of one of the only things they hold over their online counterparts – the human touch.

Why is it that John Lewis and Waitrose are still the exception to the rule in that they offer faultless customer service?

High street stores should be so practiced in giving great in store service by now that this alone should be enough to set them apart from an online alternative.

The theory that retailers are falling down on customer service is supported by another second piece of research revealed this week, this time carried out by electricals retailer Best Buy, that found that UK businesses are missing out on £850bn worth of trade thanks to bad service.

More than three quarters (71%) of shoppers will pay more for good customer service and helpful and knowledgeable staff and 85% would go out of their way to use companies that offer better service.

Most shocking is that 74% of the shoppers polled by Best Buy believe that customer service is either the same or even worse than in the past.

While getting involved with technological advances such as mobile apps, proximity marketing and countless other digital initiatives can help to make retailers fit for changing consumer behaviours it seems as though most should focus on addressing the basics first.

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