How to improve customer satisfaction in retail

February 27, 2022

Customer satisfaction in the retail business comes from a solid relationship between the business and the customer. Essentially, it is always a two-way street, but many retail businesses fail to understand this and end up with low levels of customer satisfaction.

Retail customers buy your products when you are forthcoming, honest, and a problem solver. These characteristics let your clientele know that you deem them important and are diligently doing your part in the relationship. Here are five ways how you can increase customer satisfaction in retail businesses:

Provide social proof by publishing testimonials online

A research study by Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman revealed that almost 95% of the time retail customers were purchasing goods due to emotional reasons. The purchase only matters if it satisfies people emotionally and those emotions usually come after the purchase when they are seen by the people around them using that product. This is why, after they have bought something, they want to justify it with logic and convince themselves (and the people around them) that they have made a smart choice. Retail businesses can use it to their advantage by publishing testimonials on all their online and social media channels. This will give shoppers the necessary information they need to justify their buying decisions.

Social proof is an idea that shows how people adapt their behavior to something people are doing around them in large numbers. When you see a line of customers waiting to eat at a restaurant, you tend to think that the restaurant is selling immensely popular food. You may also think that since there are so many customers, the food is bound to be fresh as the restaurant gets sold out every night. Similarly, when you see testimonials or reviews of people online about a product or service you tend to trust it more. Therefore, companies publish testimonials of their clients online to console their new customers that they are making the right choice.  

Use data intelligently to boost customer satisfaction

As a retailer, if you think that conducting a customer satisfaction survey and giving a congratulatory tap at the back of your top-performing stores is enough, you are sadly mistaken. Even a study conducted by Indiana University states that managers tend to overestimate the levels of customer satisfaction. This is primarily due to their lack of complete understanding of what REALLY drives customer satisfaction. Unless data is processed to bring out insights through analytics, it is not only meaningless but also very misleading.

For instance, a retail store uses a good Customer Relationship Management Solution (CRM) that helps it not only make sense of customer data but use that data to manage customer experiences. Through CRM, you automatically and intelligently segment your customers into tiers (which could be their last purchase date). couple that with AI-based recommendations on their most recommended item to purchase and send them recall reminders. or just a top-of-the-mind brand message so they keep coming back? With complete freedom to define the offer based on the factors you decide (you could change the offer based on how long it has been since the last purchase), you could offer a free voucher, free delivery, etc. to bring them back into the cycle.

Activate customers’ reciprocity reflex

In a book titled Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, the reciprocity reflex was described as an impulse that is triggered when you give people something for free. It makes them feel obliged to do something in return. To put it simply, you can give shoppers a gift to activate their reciprocity reflex. After all, it is a long-established way to increase sales. You can, however, do it better and give shoppers two gifts instead of one, strategically.  

For example, you run a restaurant and you instruct your waiters to give diners a free snack while they are waiting for their food and then, after a brief interval, return unannounced with another free snack. Imagine the psychological effect you will cast on your diners. Not only will your waiters get an increase in tips, but you will also have people returning to your restaurant. Businesses can use the same method to increase customer satisfaction in retail stores.

If you do not want to give your customers two gifts, you can also tempt them with a free voucher for their next purchase. Something that will guarantee that they will get a commendable discount if they come back to your store for a second purchase. Similarly, when it comes to people returning products, you can offer them store credits or gift cards of equivalent value. This way they will come back to your store to conduct repeat business.

Make buyers feel important

What do you understand when you hear “Everybody is a hero of his or her story”? It was a valuable lesson in a self-help book by Dale Carnegie titled, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ Everybody is the hero of his or her story, which means that everybody wants to feel important. It is quite simple, but it is also immensely powerful in the retail industry. For example, you can train your staff to listen intently to your customers and even take notes when they are speaking. It will make them feel that they are important to you and that their opinions matter to you. This increases customer satisfaction in retail because when people feel important at a business, they not only return but also become brand advocates.

Similarly, in cases where an issue escalates and your staff must seek help from a senior employee, they should be trained to do it in a way that would not offend the customer. Naturally, your staff cannot remain empathic towards a customer who attacks them. It is against human nature. That is why they need to be trained to solve customer problems even when they find themselves under fire.  

Make your staff ‘the boss’  

Here is our final tip. Make your staff, ‘the boss.’ It does not mean that you must resign from the company and make everyone their own boss. After your retail staff is trained in how to deal with a customer in the best possible manner, the next thing you should do is to empower them with the concept of ownership.  

When employees see themselves working for someone, they feel like they owe their bosses nothing but the work they are paid for. Teach your staff a new mindset. Make them president of their own professional services firm and tell them that they work for themselves. This way you will become their first paying client and they will be inclined to not only offer your customers excellent service but also push hard to increase their quota. Imagine coupling this with reward based on living the value of ownership. This way you would not only have a customer that returns but also employees that stay longer and work extra hard for your brand and for their own benefit.

These were five ways you can increase customer satisfaction in the retail industry. These have worked for many retail businesses out there and we are positive that they will work for you too.