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Retail Tech

Is Customer Service Killing Retail Sector?

By Dennis Kaiser

Customer service has emerged as a key factor for U.S. adults when choosing where to shop and how much they will buy, according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Findings of the recently-released 2019 poll reveal nearly two thirds (65%) of consumers said that the quality of customer service is a factor when deciding where to make their purchases, and more than two thirds (67%) said that good customer service encourages them to stay longer and/or spend more money.

For all major product categories, positive, in-person customer experience increases the likelihood of a purchase. More than half (57%) of people said that they would pay more for an item or service if they know they will receive good customer service. Overall, the majority (73%) of respondents said that receiving good customer service from a retailer increases the likelihood that they will spend more money than they had planned.

“Nearly 60% of consumers said that they’re more satisfied with customer service in-store than online, which speaks to the value of the in-person experience,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “Even in the age of online, the human element remains a vital component of success for shopping centers and retailers as they invest and re-invest in their physical presences.”

Overall, the expectations for good customer service have increased in the past three years. Nearly 50% of consumers said expectations are considerably higher than three years ago. More men than women said that their expectations are higher, and more Millennials feel this way than older demographics.

The most important aspects of customer service in-stores:
– Friendly and/or knowledgeable employees (62%)
– Ability to easily find items (59%)
– Speed and ease of checkout (59%)

The most important aspects of customer service online:
– Speed of delivery services offered (55%)
– Ability to easily find the items (49%)
– Flexibility of return/exchange policy (45%)

The survey also revealed the leading frustrations. Long checkout lines, not being able to find employees to help, and negative employee interactions or ‘pushy’ salespeople are the top frustrations for customers shopping in-store. Shipping fees, receiving the wrong item, and complicated return processes frustrate online consumers the most. These reasons illustrate that, across channels, convenience and personalization are vital aspects of customer service.

Regardless of a good or bad customer service experience, more than 90% of people are vocal about it, demonstrating that the impact and quality of customer service extends beyond the immediate interaction. If a retailer provides good customer service, the majority of consumers will either shop at the retailer again, or recommend it to friends and family.


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About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.

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