Retail Customer Service in 2022: Show Shoppers Some Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about retail customer service in 2022, particularly as we live in a very isolated world. Some retailers see customer service as merely an expense while others smartly view it as opportunity to build a relationship with their customer. Each year, as part of the annual e-tailing group Gifting Index (sponsored by GiftNow), topline customer service metrics are included in the analysis, and they range from return policies to delivery options.

Five star service

The Business Value of Retail Customer Service in 2022

There is industry research that indicates the value of customer service. When both marketing and customer service are focused on both the attraction and retention of customers, the business’ profitability can improve. According to Forbes, 86% of customers will pay more when they have a good experience with customer service. And, according to PWC, 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. Yet only 49% of U.S. consumers say companies provide a good customer experience today.

Buyers have many reasons to visit your onsite customer service and they expect positive experiences. They might be in need of specific information to track an order or just want to learn a little bit more about your brand and your policies. Guiding them through this experience means complete information is organized in an effective way to ensure shoppers find the answers they seek.

The e-tailing group completed a year-over-year analysis of customer service touch points from the 50 retailers that comprised the e-tailing group Gifting Index. Results can be seen below.

Customer Service metrics from the e-tailing gifting index

In order to show your shoppers some love, seven caveats should be in consideration for retailers. Examples from our retailer Gifting Index best practices showcase superior execution and should be in consideration among retailers.

Choice is Always Rewarded

Lands’ End is all about choices for their customers so it’s no wonder they received Newsweek’s Best Customer Service for sporting goods for their 2021 award. While standards such as phone and chat are present, they are part of the group of retailers that also allows for text messaging. To see a 6% increase over 2020 bodes well for text messaging’s future growth. Lands’ End knows that there are many customers who would prefer not to make a phone call and gravitate to text as their preferred means of communication.

Though social options from Twitter and Facebook are very low at 8% and 6% respectively, Lands’ End makes a tweet option available for socially minded shoppers.

Lands End CS example

Retail Customer Service in 2022: Strike the Right Tone

When it comes to retail customer service in 2022, Tumi is on top of what their customers need and that is reflected in their well-conceived customer service page. The icons make it easy for shoppers to find information on an array of topics from shipping to returns. Knowing that so many customers are likely looking to get the status of their orders, they’ve led with that capability on the page. It’s also positive to see that they integrate gift cards leveraging this heavily visited location, to serve as a year-round reminder of a perfect gift idea.

Retail Customer Service in 2022 Tumi

Clarity Will be Embraced by Customers

If ever there was a year to look back, it would be 2021. With so many challenges from the supply chain to delivery, being honest with customers was certainly the best policy. Not all approaches were equal, but L.L. Bean went the extra mile to share what was happening along with remedies for ensuring that customers receive the best outcome possible. It’s also important to note that contact information is clearly shown for those visitors that seek more information. On a side note, they are one of just two where customers can request that they receive a call back from the retailer, which for some is more convenient.

Retail Customer Service in 2022 LL Bean

Self-service information is a Shopper Efficiency

The FAQs are a dream scenario for both the retailer and the self-service shopper. Nike delivers a brand-centric approach with their Quick Assists. The usual topics are teed up including shipping and delivery, returns, orders and company information. They also take advantage of this real estate to highlight their Nike membership and offers that they extend to targeted customers.

Retail Customer Service in 2022 Nike

Crate & Barrel has a more complicated scenario as furniture is core to their assortment. Their well-crafted customer service page welcomes their customers with options that run the gamut from tracking orders, to scheduling delivery, including the requisite forms. The ability to start a return is a welcome efficiency. I would also mention their call out of touch points and inclusion of hours customer service reps are available, which averts frustration among their shoppers.

Retail Customer Service in 2022 Crate & Barrel

Be There When They Need You with Integrated Chat

Many shoppers find themselves in unique circumstances as they are shopping or looking for very specific information. It’s nice to see that Fanatics has integrated chat at that juncture to meet the shopper where they are. Chat has certainly become a customer favorite. Its strength in the retail community is seen as it retains last year’s 88% penetration rate among retailers in the Gifting Index.

Retail Customer Service in 2022 Fanatics

Use Technology to Problem Solve

Kay Jewelers is very forward thinking and has learned from the pandemic the power of talking with their customers. While they have the standard fare of chatting and texting, unlike many others, they encourage their shoppers to connect via a video call. Additionally, they use this “contact us” location to allow shoppers to book an appointment, which can be serviced either in-store or virtually. Both are likely positive byproducts of COVID-19 and will still serve them well in the years to come.

Contact Us - Kay

Identify Your Chat Offerings

Shoppers appreciate that retailers let them know who will be servicing their chat. Uniqlo’s chatbot service is conveniently available 24 hours a day while their live chat has more limited hours.

Uniqlo chat

Retail Customer Service in 2022 – The Ultimate Differentiator

Retail customer service in 2022 is on course to be perhaps the ultimate differentiator. Retailers should take some time to review both their policies and the presentation of that information. It’s easy to forget about this information or fail to conduct an annual review. This is a grave mistake as I believe it can serve as one of the best retention tools for retailers and a reason shoppers keep coming back.

Lauren Freedman is president of the e-tailing group

You might also enjoy:

Holiday 2021 Take-aways: 7 Lessons Learned

The 2022 Gifting Index: Take the Gifting Challenge

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