Retailer Secrets: Why do so many retail outlets offer poor experiences?

Pretty simply, retail is all about people interacting with people. The better this interaction is, the better the customer will feel, and as we say: “The rewarded customer buys, multiplies and comes back.”

Why do so many retail outlets offer their customers a sub-par experience? Unfortunately, there are many reasons—here are my top three:

  1. A lot of retailers believe they do offer great service, when they don’t. A number think they do and are oblivious to the poor service being offered up in their stores. This is often because there is no consequence for the poor service that is being provided. Staff receive no feedback on whether they are doing a poor or great job, so why would they try any harder?
  2. Retailers have a number of staff who shouldn’t be working in retail. They are either the wrong personality type who don’t like serving customers or have been around too long and have lost the service spark.
  3. Lack of staff. This causes extra workload, such as staff being preoccupied with putting stock on shelves, which takes them away from serving customers. Some staff come to think that getting stock off the floor and onto shelves is more important than serving customers.

I believe retailers have to get more serious about the staff they employ, how they induct and train them and how well they coach them to be amazing. I fundamentally believe most staff want to do a great job and don’t deliberately do things wrong (although sometimes it can seem like it)—it is more often because they receive little or no direction and feedback.

Retailers need to ensure that all their staff feel part of the team, and that’s hard with most retailers employing casual staff (who are more flexible with hours worked). Often casuals receive little or no training and support, yet they work at the busiest times. This is a great recipe for disappointing customers.

I believe managers need to spend more time on the floor, working with and observing their staff. This way they can catch them doing things right and coach where they see opportunities to improve. You can’t do this from the office if you are stuck doing paperwork!

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.