Sam Cochran, customer services manager at family-run shoe retailer Charles Clinkard, shares his thoughts on making sure your company remains competitive in an ever-changing market.
In a fast-paced market, the retail landscape can change so fast that unless you’re offering something unique to your customers that will keep them coming back, it can be incredibly difficult to stay competitive. Here’s a look at how we’ve remained at the top of a fast-paced market since we first opened.
In our experience, the one sure-fire way to retain your place at the top of an ever-changing marketplace is to make customer satisfaction the focus of your business model. We are certain that this is what has kept Charles Clinkard competitive ever since we opened the doors of our first ever store in 1924, and we attribute a huge portion of our success to our customer service.
In the digital age, customer service is arguably more crucial than ever, as it’s almost non-existent on many e-commerce sites. We go to great lengths to ensure that our online customers experience the same high level of service that they have come to expect in our physical stores, which allows us to stand out in a highly competitive online marketplace.
To achieve this high level of customer service online, we try to make ourselves available to customers as often as possible and in ways that are convenient for them. Our office opening hours are 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. during the week, and we open on weekends and bank holidays too. During this period, customers can contact us via email, telephone, post, or live chat — whichever method is most convenient for them and their type of query.
We strive to offer a personal service at all times, which can be something as simple as calling the customer if they have provided a telephone number in their email. Whenever possible, we also assign each email enquiry to a single team member, so each customer has one point of contact during their correspondence with us. Little things like this can go a long way, especially in the digital age.
Delivery performance is also an area that we are constantly reviewing to ensure we provide the best possible service to the customer. Delivery options can be a deciding factor for many buyers, so it’s crucial that you get this right if you operate online. In our case, our customer service team works closely with our online dispatch team. This allows us to be hands-on with customer orders right up until the point of dispatch, which makes it possible to go the extra mile for our customers by accommodating last-minute delivery amendments. This goes a long way with customers, and can often convert one-time buyers into repeat purchasers.
Other areas we focus on include making sure we process returns within 24 hours, as we know how important it is to the customer to get their refund as soon as possible. We have also introduced a loyalty scheme across the business that ensures our best customers are rewarded, which encourages repeat buys.
Make providing excellent customer experience a central focus of your business, and you’ll put yourself in the best possible position to succeed in an ever-changing market.