Good customer service stretches from before the customer purchases the product to after the purchase transaction has been completed. The components of customer consist of the following:
The diagram below shows the three components of customer service
The pre-transaction element of good customer service will continually ensure that the firm and its premises, employees and procedures are set up to provide excellent customer service. The firm's systems have to be flexible enough to adequately respond to customer and market needs.
Pre-transaction marketing aims to persuade consumers to visit the firm's retail stores through highlighting store facilities, product features/benefits and promotional offers. It also involves highlighting the firm's ethos, values, vision and policies. For example price match policies, free returns process and ethical values such as fair trade and sustainability.
Once in the store, how can the store welcome and support the potential customer. The retail store environment should make customers feel comfortable so that they want to stay in the store. Research shows that the longer a customer stays in the store, the more money they spend i.e. the length of time in a store directly correlates to the amount of money spent. Retailers go to great lengths to ensure that their stores are set at a comfortable temperature, lighting and even smell (scent marketing). The store should be easy to navigate with prices and information displayed clearly and accurately.
Retailers provide toilets and cafes to ensure that hunger and sanitary needs do not make the customer leave. There are often facilities to entertain children so that their parents can relax and shop with minimal disturbance. For example restaurants will provide crayons and colouring pads at the table and their gardens often have slides, swings and climbing frames, whilst some retailers, gyms and cinemas offer a Crèche . Many shopping centres and eateries now have free wireless internet access (Wifi) in the hope that internet access will encourage people to stay longer and therefore spend more.
Retail employees should make customers feel welcome and facilitate the buying process through excellent customer service skills, product knowledge and store facilities knowledge. Employees should answer customer questions confidently and skill fully demonstrate products if required. Interaction with store employees is often what makes a sale on the day or prevents people visiting a store in the future.
It should be easy for the customer to buy products and services they have selected to ensure that the sale does not fail at this critical stage. Otherwise the efforts involved in persuading the customer to visit the store (internet site/telephone sales) will become a waste of time. Customer service during the purchase process needs good product availability, efficient queuing systems, a choice of payment methods and accurate technology/software systems so that the prices and offers at the point of sale match those displayed around the store, on marketing material and websites.
Good customer service continues after the purchase transaction, consumers expect a quality after sales service for product failures, complaints and questions/queries. Post transaction service will determine whether consumers buy from a firm in the future. Customers will feel reassured about the firm through efficient complaint resolution, product/service warranties and quick product replacement and repairs. For online/remote purchases customer deliveries need to processed accurately, made on time, invoiced correctly and goods have to arrive undamaged.
To summarise, the components of customer service are all about looking after the customer before, during and after the sale, so that you are there to support customers "every step of the way".
Each stage is as important as the others, do not make the importance of putting all of your efforts into the transaction service, otherwise you will lose the customer before you reach the sale transaction or customers will not return for future sales because you did not resolve an issue that arose after the sale very well.
Looking after each of the customer service stages, will ensure that customers remain loyal and provide you with business throughout their lifetime.
Studying Business Management visit www.learnmanagement2.com