Re-Inventing Retail

From the Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute.
Tips | Tactics | Insights on the Business of Retailing.

"Good Customer Service" - for Which Customer? Bookmark

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In today’s seemingly chaotic retail environment, much is being said and written about the importance of good customer service. And there are many suggestions on how to do it.

The Retail Owners Institute asks the question, “Good customer service? Of course. But, for which customer?” 

Consider, for example, how different lifestages can create much different expectations for “good service”.

A retired senior citizen might prefer stores with known brands, that offer ample free parking, can be shopped during the weekdays (before dark), have friendly, patient staff, and are willing to deal with returns readily and graciously.

Those folks who are working and/or have children at home need stores that have extended hours (late evening, early morning, etc), ready access to the items they most need (enough of that milk-and-eggs-in-the-back-of-the-store concept), hassle-free process to pay, sales staff that have answers when asked but otherwise don’t bother them. Wifi access is crucial as well (yes, they will comparison shop…)

Younger shoppers – high school and college age – may shop in groups, and expect stores to offer a social experience. They prefer that the sales staff be people who look and act like them. They fully expect to easily use their smart phones.

Moreover, think about male shoppers: what do they value the most? 

Now, are these overly-broad generalizations? Of course. But you get the idea. 

What constitutes "good customer service" is decidedly different for each group. How can one flavor of “good customer service” satisfy all of these customer types? The point is, it can't!

What’s a savvy retailer to do? 

It starts by understanding just who your “best customer” is – that is, your Most Profitable Customer. You may find some surprises as you dig into this a bit.

For instance, it could be that those senior citizens who come into your stores frequently are also buying from you on many of those visits. Perhaps not big ticket items, but enough smaller (maybe high margin?) items that add up to a meaningful contribution over time.

Or, you might find that the working moms with their heavy duty strollers don’t come in very frequently, but when they do, they make it count!

So, study their habits. And follow the money! 

And use that understanding of your "Most PROFITABLE Customer" to help prioritize your “good customer service” standards.

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About The Co-Founders

Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt, The Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute®, have been called "The Zen masters of retail finance!"

Since 1999, they have been assembling  their proprietary content into a unique self-help website. The Retail Owners Institute is an unmatched resource that assists retailers worldwide with basic financial training, assistance and easy-to-use tools.

Their engaging and empowering how-to resources about the financial levers in retailing are informative, fun(!), and retailer-friendly. Their promise: "Everyone will 'get it'!"

Pat and Dick are recognized experts in strategic retailing. Working only as a team – Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists, LLC – they have been consulting, publishing, and speaking professionally throughout North America since 1990.

They focus exclusively on retail, or wherever retail is involved. They work with CEOs, CFOs, boards and owners of retail operations, as well as manufacturers or wholesalers expanding into retail. And they also are Retail Turnaround Experts.

Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"