This month our Retail Panel discuses the ins and outs of good customer service

What makes stand-out customer service?

PCR asks the retail panel to explain the secrets to working well with customers, so that they keep coming back for more.

For me, good customer service is about two key factors: speed and being as personal as possible. We live in an ever-changing world where communication is instant and customer service has to reflect that. In recent years, our customers have come to expect a much faster turnaround of their issues, questions, orders and support requests.

Here at we have improved our automated methods of communication to provide customers with quick updates on orders; at the same time as investing in a team of dedicated CS phone personnel based in our Bolton office. These two actions combined enable our customers to get a personal and quick response on their queries.

As part of BT we’ve taken great steps to improve our Customer Service in line with the BT Customer Promise which states we are…

“…dedicated to helping customers thrive in a changing world… this means getting ever closer to customers, understanding their lifestyles and establishing long-term relationships with them.”

We believe our actions so far show a commitment to our customers that we hope will enable us to win, fulfil and fundamentally keep our customers happy and buying from

Stand-out service in electricals means fully understanding how a customer uses technology as a part of their day-to-day life. Most consumers buy a piece of hardware or software to achieve a goal. Understanding this is key to helping the customer make the right product selection in the first place, the right solution to support it, and the right level of after sales support to ensure they can do so without bother. Being able to differentiate between a tech savvy customer and somebody who needs a lot of help and support is also critical in making the most of the customer’s time and needs. Increasingly this means talking about apps, content and productivity tools as opposed to technical specifications.

One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make with social media is to use it as a broadcast channel: “Look at us, this is what we do, aren’t we brilliant!” To be successful with social media marketing you need to converse and to listen. And this is the key to stand-out customer service whether online or in person – to listen.

You may well know your industry inside out but you can’t recommend the best products for your customers if you don’t hear what they are saying. Companies that are succeeding are doing so not because of the products that they provide, but because they are satisfying the needs of their clients, and you can only do this if you know what those needs are in the first place.

Great customer service has to be the core mantra of any team if they are ever going to continually exceed the customers’ expectations of service levels. It doesn’t come from having one killer differentiator. It is all the small details you and your team do with every customer interaction.

My top tip would be to look at the Customer First standard ( At Utopia we use this to audit how well we are performing in customer service. There are thirty statements in all, split across three core elements. While you can pay for a professional audit of your performance, we use a simple spread sheet which we revisit quarterly to check our progress and ensure we are always improving our service levels. Ensuring your staff understand the importance of customer service and the many forms it can take can be tough. To help achieve this I encourage all of my team from technical through to sales to complete a diploma in Customer Service. This highlights the sometimes overlooked importance of a follow-up email or phone call that ensures the customer is 100 per cent satisfied with their service.

Many retailers tell me that they are struggling to compete on price with supermarkets and online e-tailers. Making your service levels the best in the business will go a long way to keep your customers coming back, even if you are the slightly more expensive option.

To me, stand-out customer service is about giving customers exactly what they expect. This is not necessarily what they want or demand. You can’t be all things to all people. Therefore making an effort to ensure you attract the right type of customer in the first place will then give you the opportunity to focus on that customer’s needs and learn from that experience over time to refine your service.

Giving customers solid and impartial advice suited to their needs is a key ingredient. Customers will thank you for your honest and sincere help, even if you can’t help them as it’s not your niche area. No one wants to be fobbed off, and giving bad advice is even worse!

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