You’ve heard the saying that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. In the retail environment, the commercial impact of your customers’ first impressions of your brand is significant. A positive first impression is an important start in building a meaningful relationship with today’s consumers. It can also set the tone for the rest of their experience.
In the shop floor environment, that first impression is likely to take the form of a customer query or price check. This is the first moment the consumer is reaching out to you for help, advice, or assistance. If they can’t find one of your staff employees, have to wait for an inappropriate amount of time for a staff employee to return with their answer, or are generally left feeling unsatisfied with the interaction, that first impression may well be their last.
To improve the success of such interactions and ensure that your customers head to the checkout with full baskets, you should review the types of contact points your customers experience in-store.
Wait, what are customer contact points?
Customer contact points are those precise moments when a business interacts directly with its customers. Present in both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce retailers, customer contact point examples could include in-person communication, online chats, telephone conversations, company kiosks and, more recently, interactions carried out via innovative technology solutions.
While a positive first impression might go on to build a strong, long-lasting relationship between your brand and your customers, your consumers will decide whether or not they consider it such as quickly as seven seconds into the interaction, meaning you have to please fast.
According to Retail TouchPoints, 67.3% of customers walk out empty-handed from a store because they couldn’t find the product they wanted. By responding quickly and with professionalism to customer queries, you’re striving towards a better customer service that will not only increase loyalty and build meaningful relationships but actually drive more sales.
This means it’s vital that you take steps to ensure you have the right kinds of contact points in place to serve your customers. What are the different types of customer contact points?
5 types of customer contact points
1. Customer CallPoints
Customer CallPoints can increase sales by enabling customers to request immediate assistance through the click of a button. Instead of hunting down that elusive employee for a stock or price query, customers simply press the button and communicate with your staff colleagues clearly through a speaker, via their headset, from any location within the store.
Not only is this technology useful on the shop floor, but you can also implement it in changing rooms. Using CallPoints, your customers can request another size without having to leave their cubicle, empowering the consumer and transforming what can often be an awkward or uncomfortable customer contact point into a delightful experience.
2. Live chat tools
Today, most retailers support their physical stores with a digital presence. With consumers increasingly turned on by the speed and convenience of online shopping, it’s important that your digital customer contact points are just as seamless as those in your physical stores.
Today, 30% of consumers expect a business to have live chat. This quick and simple function allows customers to chat directly with employees if they need a quick answer.
As many as 77% of customers won’t make a purchase on a website if there’s no live chat option
By implementing a live chat function to your website, you’re personalising a consumer’s journey by helping them out directly, making them more likely to purchase from your brand — online or offline — and recommend you to others.
3. In-person communication
Despite technology innovations, in-person communication remains an ever-present type of customer contact point in the retail space. Look to have at least two assistants working on each individual department so customers have the option to ask for help if they need it without having to search around the store. These assistants should be specialists in their department and offer a friendly, approachable welcome to each customer. Who are your go-to employees, the individuals capable of answering customer queries and ensuring your customers don’t walk out of your store empty-handed?
4. Customer phone calls
The telephone still plays an integral part for customers to interact with businesses directly. Much like live chat, it’s an efficient resource that allows a customer’s more pressing queries to be answered quickly, minus the need to login on a website.
But are you making the most of your telephone manner? The average UK company loses £12,000 a year due to missed calls. Across the UK, that amounts to a combined total of £30 billion.
The solution? Innovative technology solutions like integrated telephony mean you’ll never miss a customer call again. Linked with your existing telephone system and wireless headsets, your staff colleagues are able to answer calls from any location, without having to physically pick up the phone. In addition, an added feature allows off-site staff colleagues to communicate instantly with team members from anywhere around the world, so the correct answer to a customer query is never far away.
5. Retail kiosks
Strategically placed kiosks can also function as customer contact points. Positioning them around the store to hit the highest footfall of passers-by makes them visible and accessible to customers with queries. From there, the attendants can direct customers to the location of the product or department they’re looking for as well as be the ambassadors for certain store products. You might also consider offering promotional vouchers or leaflets to further delight the customer and make that first impression a rewarding one.
The importance of customer contact points in retail
When it comes down to it, positive customer contact is about helping out the customer in whatever way possible.
- If a customer has a query, answer it as quickly as possible
- Make sure any information you provide the customer a) is accurate and b) answers their question
- If relevant, offer to accompany the customer and provide direct assistance
- Make sure to follow up with the customer and ask if there is anything else you can help them with
- Offer assistance with a smile
By reacting in a quick and productive manner, you’re creating a lasting impression, increasing the chance of the customer making a purchase and visiting again in the future. Effectively delivering on these points is a simple case of making sure your stores are set up to provide as many types of the right customer contact points as possible.
Don’t be the retailer who loses out on customers because of a poor first impression. Can you confidently say that the next interaction a customer has with your brand will leave them smiling?