Friendly retail staff draw 40 per cent more from customer’s wallets

By Jeremy Michael

How are you being served? If it’s with a smile then you are likely to be spending 40 per cent (£8.68) more than those who didn’t receive satisfactory assistance, according to a new report released today by customer insight agency SMG.

By analysing the opinions and purchasing patterns of 359,000 UK customers SMG has found UK shoppers’ average spend jumps from £21.73 to £30.41, when shoppers have a positive in store experience.

Happy to help

Staff assistance has the greatest influence on overall satisfaction with 43 per cent claiming it is the biggest driver of an excellent experience. Also highly influential is staff knowledge with product recommendations increasing basket size by 15 per cent.

Even when assistance is not given, a simple friendly interaction of the shop floor causes 32 per cent of respondents to rate their experience at the shops as satisfactory or higher.

The struggles of the retail sector in this gloomy economic period have been well documented. However, the SMG Customer Satisfaction Index should provide great hope as it indicates customers are willing to spend significantly more if provided with quality service.

Teens pre-shop online

The research also reveals the growing trend of browsing online before buying in store. Nearly 50 per cent of under-18 year olds pre-shop via the web before sealing the deal on the High Street. This compares significantly to the national average of 30 per cent, and just 17 per cent of over-55s.

Internet browsing also increases eventual till spend by 15 per cent, highlighting the need for brands to offer a seamless digital and physical experience.

The statistics show that customers who begin their shopping experience online before buying in-store spend more money. Consequently retailers must not see the industry as a battle between digital and physical, but a potentially lucrative combination of the two.

The in-store experience needs to offer something the internet can’t provide such as personalised human interaction. Stores should prioritise equipping staff with the knowledge and training techniques needed to ensure customers are assisted successfully, knowing doing so will increase spend.

Newcastle upon ‘Shine’

Although not famous for its sunny weather, shoppers are positively beaming in Tyne and Wear, recording the joint-highest satisfaction score of 6.8 out of 10. This was matched by customers in Derbyshire who also ranked their experience at an average of 6.8. In contrast, London and Berkshire ranked amongst the lowest with 6.1 and 5.5 respectively.

Other report findings include:

• A lack of staff interaction makes shoppers more likely to notice other store failings

• Slow service was the cause of dissatisfaction for 22% of customers

• Assistance is most sought after by Londoners and shoppers in the north of England

About the author and SMG

Jeremy Michael is managing director, SMG.

Service Management Group (SMG) is a forward-thinking research agency conducting store-level, ongoing customer experience measurement and analysis in more than 90,000 locations worldwide. SMG integrates this customer research into actionable business intelligence and service improvement tools for retail, restaurant and service-based companies, linking results to financial performance. 

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