Picture this. You enter an establishment or retail premises and notice the general untidyness of the environment. You are studiously ignored by staff (who’re busy talking to each other) and given luke-warm service when you approach the counter for a transaction.
It’s a situation which can make even the most patient of customers feel frustrated (and furious!)
As many retailers and businesses find during busy times, it can be difficult to predict staffing requirements. Erring on the side of caution and ‘overstaffing’ seems sensible and a natural reaction by business owners who want to provide excellent customer experience. However, without appropriate consideration, overstaffing can become an issue in itself; souring the entire experience for everyone involved.
When employees have too much time on their hands, service standards tend to drop with staff becoming lacksadaisical towards customers. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a personal problem for them – a negative attitude from staff is infectious and can hurt your business’s bottom line.
With more than 600,000 pieces of individual customer feedback collected in the Customer Radar platform from a number of industries, patterns have emerged and common feedback has been identified as useful for all sectors. The feedback we receive shows that customer expectation of service increases when there are more staff around.
“Staff are standing around and chatting, and they took their time to acknowledge me. They seemed more interested in their conversation that helping me.”
On the other hand, customer feedback also shows that when there are fewer staff on and they are obviously working hard with other customers, people are happy to wait for service, within reason – as long as they are acknowledged by staff.
Using feedback from your customers can help you re-evaluate what positions need to be filled every hour you are open for business. For many establishments, the lunch periods are the most challenging, with staff naturally wanting to refuel and take a break; however that is when the shop is full of customers on their lunch break.
Customer responses pertinent to retailers also show that although weekends are often the biggest days for turnover, they can deliver the worst customer experience with part-timers and weekend staff not having the same level of skill and care as regular employees.
“We have been able to identify quite clearly, to days of the week and even down to times of the day, when our service slips below what we
For some businesses we work with, understanding the right staff levels around the busy periods or placing more emphasis on training for part-time staff has seen a positive change in customer responses. One large New Zealand retailer made roster changes after their feedback revealed a gap in service in busy periods. Sales were being affected by slow service on the busiest retail days of the week. By changing the sales process on the shop floor during their busy periods, feedback improved significantly and sales increased noticably.
Prioritisation of duties also comes through as a strong theme in customer complaints.
“Staff should be focused on serving me first before stocking shelves. They didn’t even acknowledge me standing at the counter.”
Businesses that we’ve worked with often find that once a staff member is aware of a customer’s feedback and have the support of management to make a change, the staff member feels empowered to make a decision that will benefit the customers and ultimately the business. It’s hugely beneficial for all parties, ensuring frustration is left at the door, and only attention and friendly service is exchanged between your staff and your customers.
August 12, 2014