Customer service is all about meeting your customers’ expectations, says Georgina Wild of HIM

As many as 40% of c-store shoppers say that staff friendliness is the most important thing that a store should deliver in order to keep them happy. This is ranked second after product availability.

So having friendly and helpful staff is an absolute must for any retailer. Independent retailers need to be “a little different, a little special” in order to compete head on with the major multiples – that’s why they should be delivering impeccable customer service.

A quarter of the 30,000 shoppers interviewed as part of HIM’s Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP) live less than 100 yards from the store and therefore are truly local customers. As part of CTP we asked c-store customers to rate staff friendliness and speed of service. Overall the ratings given by shoppers were high: eight out of 10.

According to the findings, 88% of customers reported that staff said “thank you” to them; 75% said “goodbye”; 43% greeted or acknowledged them when they entered the store; 17% offered to pack the shopping bag; while 9% asked the customer if they had found everything they were looking for. All in all, 56% of c-store customers said that the service they received at the independent store in question was better than the service they’d received at supermarkets.

All very positive news. However, we should never rest on our laurels and be satisfied that the job is done and that customers will continue to use our store. Retailers should continue to work hard to improve their customers’ shopping experience, so it’s worth keeping in mind the following hints: remember your staff are your best assets; motivate them to be friendly and helpful. It really does not cost anything to say hello, goodbye and thank you, but makes all the difference to customers; take the time to explain to staff about new products and services so that they are more knowledgeable and helpful to customers; during quieter times of the day use the opportunity to remind customers about promotions and offer to pack their bags for them; and ask your shoppers what they would like to see in your store

l ask them to give feedback on the service they received via a simple feedback card.