What Good Customer Service in Retail Looks Like

Apr 12, 2019

“It used to be that if you made a customer happy, they would tell five friends. Now, with the megaphone of the internet, whether online customer reviews or social media, they can tell 5,000 friends.”

– Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com

As a customer service professional, you have a heavy responsibility.

You’re the first line of contact representing your company to both your current customers and prospective customers.

On top of that, providing customer support used to be just over phone and email.

Now, your customers want to reach you over live chat, a dozen social media channels – and they want an instant reply, 24/7.

Your customers now have the power to share photos, stories or reviews about their customer service experience with your brand at a moment’s notice.

And their expectations are rising.

It’s a double-edged sword. In the US alone, Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience. Yet they’re also willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, up from 14% in 2014.

The quality of your customer service experience determines how your brand is perceived and drives your customer retention rates.

But as a customer service professional, how can you leverage the power of social media and provide a great customer service experience for your customers?

More importantly, how does exemplary customer service – the kind that wins a customer over for life look like?

To help you out, we’ve collated several stories of companies whose exemplary customer service differentiates themselves from the competition and earns their customer’s business again and again.

Let’s get started.

#1: Zappos demonstrates empathy with the personal touch for a customer’s ill mother

Zappos customer bought six pairs of shoes for her mother, whose left foot was numb and sensitive from a recent medical operation. But, none of these shoes fit and the mother called Zappos to explain her medical condition and to return the shoes.

Two days later, the customer received a bouquet of flowers delivered to their doorstep from Zappos with a handwritten get-well-soon message. The customer’s entire family were later upgraded to VIP memberships granting them free shipping on all orders.

Key takeaway: Get to know your customers personally and spend time reaching out to them during unique situations. They won’t forget it.

“We have to untrain employees’ bad habits from previous call centers, where they’re trying to be more efficient by minimizing the time they talk to the customer. If someone is looking for a specific shoe and we happen to be out of stock, we have employees direct those people to competitors’ sites.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com

#2. Sainsbury takes product advice from a three-year-old girl

A light-hearted story of how a major supermarket brand in the UK took product advice from a three-year-old girl.

Three-year-old Lily Robinson was confused by one of Sainsbury’s products called tiger bread and insisted it was to be called giraffe bread.

Sainsbury Lily Robinson - good customer service in retail

Source: HuffPost

Some companies may have dismissed this feedback as trivial, but Sainsbury’s customer support manager Chris King agreed with her and wrote her a cute reply with a gift card enclosed.

The story soon went viral; with coverage in BBC and other media publications.

Key takeaway: Beyond listening to your customer’s feedback, there could be an opportunity to do something fun, light-hearted or heartwarming. Here, Sainsbury even turned it into public polls on social media and even placed signs around their stores that credited Lily with the original idea.

Sainsbury Lily Robinson 2 - good customer service in retail

#3: Spotify makes customer service interactions fun, with a nod to their product

While Spotify isn’t a retailer per se, their online customer service interactions might just put a smile on your face.

They answer customer service interactions with personalized playlists.

spotifycares twitter 2 good customer service in retail
spotifycares twitter good customer service in retail

They end customer service interactions with an appropriate song

spotifycares twitter 3 good customer service in retail

Source: @SpotifyCares (Twitter)

Key takeaway:  Great customer service isn’t just shown in grand, heartwarming gestures like the previous examples above. Spotify extended their brand’s mission (accessing the world’s music from a single platform) to their customer service channels while injecting a sense of fun into a typically dreary process, and customers are rewarded with a fun, personalized customer service experience while also seeing what Spotify can do for them.

#4: Kershaw Knives shows us what after-sales customer care in retail looks like

Online retailer Kershaw Knives stand by offering a lifetime warranty for their products.

kershaw knives testimonial good customer service in retail

Source: Kershaw Knives

Now, that’s a generous response.

Key takeaway: Take care of your customers by sometimes pocketing minor costs in the name of good customer service after purchase. Not only did this response endeavor their customers to them, this story also reassures future customers that they’re getting significantly more in value and they’re being taken care of should anything happen to them.

#5: Chewy personalizes customer service with oil paintings of their customer’s pets

Online pet product store Chewy may have built their business on the back of their formidable customer service – going above and beyond to make their customers happy.

chewy facebook page good customer service in retail

Source: Chewy.com Facebook

Here’s how Chewy WOWs their customers with good customer service:

  • New customers receive a handwritten “Welcome to the Chewy family” postcard.

  • An artist creates an oil painting of customer’s pets

  • Handwritten holiday cards are sent to customers during the holiday season.

They paid attention to the little details and resulted in fantastic customer feedback and word-of-mouth marketing. Focusing on customer service has evidently done wonders for their revenue figures – they were recently acquired by Petsmart for a whopping $3.35 billion.

Key takeaways: Delighting your customers with a personalized service experience means paying attention to the little details that make them feel valued. Great customer experience isn’t a one-off affair, but the effort needs to be consistent for it to pay off in the long run.

#6: Nespresso nails the omnichannel customer service experience with robust structure

From its finely-tuned, easy-to-use digital user experience to round the clock customer service, Nespresso has omnichannel customer service experience nailed down to a T.

Blogger and Nespresso customer Becky Roeman shares her experience interacting with the Nespresso brand.

  • The user interface is easy to use from the website to the mobile app

  • Guidance is provided to select the right coffee machine and coffee pods to suit the customer’s tastes

  • Live customer chat, email, phone, and social media is available 24/7.

  • Customer service agents (also known as Coffee Specialists, will see your full history with Nespresso (from how much a customer ordered previously

    , taste preferences and how often they order from Nespresso). This applies both in-store and in digital environments

“Nespresso has a great command of this element of their business—they’re not stuck on disconnected touchpoints, siloed systems, and the fractioned customer service that follows. At every point of contact with Nespresso, they know what you have purchased and when the transaction took place.” – Becky Roeman, Tin Cans & String

Key takeaway: Nespresso understands customers don’t just interact with their brand across one channel and has set up appropriate measures like a fluid, robust customer data structure to provide their customers with the best omnichannel experience possible.

#7: Virgin Atlantic & Sir Richard Branson handles customer complaints, the right way

This funny, yet informative viral story about a complaint letter addressed to Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson himself is also a lesson on how to handle customer complaints with grace.

A customer doesn’t like the way your food is presented on his flight and writes a complaint letter to your CEO.

If you were the CEO, what do you do?

Here’s what Branson did:

“I phoned the customer who wrote the above note to apologize and thank him for his letter after he experienced a less than perfect culinary experience on board one of our planes. It is important to take customer feedback on board in order to improve and also to be able to laugh at yourself.” – Sir Richard Branson.

Branson telephoned the author of the letter personally and thanked him for taking the time to write to them. He also apologized that the food had not met the customer’s expectations and gave him the opportunity to sit on the tasting panel the next time they review the menu.

Key takeaways: Customer complaints are opportunities for customer service to shine. Don’t delay your response. Instead, acknowledge the customer’s perspective, apologize, explain the situation with empathy and speed and you’ll have a fantastic opportunity for brand exposure and growth.

Conclusion: Good customer service in retail are byproducts of a customer-centric culture.

Stories like these go viral and captivate both the media and our emotions as they are exceptional.

While they may not represent the everyday cycle of a business, these stories illustrate two foundational principles of good customer service in retail:

  1. Customer reps are empowered within their organization to go above and beyond for their customers

  2. There is a laser-sharp focus on the customer. Hyper-personalization is the future of customer experience.

Each of these stories illustrates a different principle of what good customer service in retail looks like to the customer. Personalized experiences, displaying empathy and delivering customer service experiences with heart is central to creating such experiences for your customers. 

Approach your next customer service interaction with these two principles, and you’re well on your way to deliver excellent customer service.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these stories? Let us know on our social media channels, we’ll love to know!

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