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Sales Personnel Apathy May Be Driving Away Retailers' Customers

April 19, 2013

What’s the cost of bad customer service? Most companies would assume that a price can’t be put on it. (And most companies would assume that they never provide bad customer service, though their customers would beg to differ.)

A recent study by American Express has done just that. In the past year, according to the results of the global survey, 55 percent of consumers who intended to make a purchase changed their minds and abandoned the buy because of poor customer service.

One of the biggest offenders when it comes to poor customer services is apathy by customer support staff; when customers believe that a worker simply doesn’t care, it’s a huge turnoff.

“When customers go shopping there is one thing they always take with them – their ego,” said Melissa Davies, founder of retail training solutions provider Authentic Training. “And the ego commands respect, interest and care. If the ego’s needs are not met, the ego goes elsewhere. The care factor is what’s missing in a lot of customer interactions. It's the reason why 55 percent of customers choose to shop elsewhere.”

So they key to not losing retail sales would appear to be in hiring the right people and offering them the right training. People with nothing invested in their jobs – no interest in the product or service, no career aspirations and no future – simply make lousy sales representatives, yet this is what many retail stores provide to customers on the floor, or in the call center.

Even if the employees are able to feign enthusiasm, it’s often simply an illusion.

“Most businesses have service standards and do their best to enforce them, but because there is a lack of care and commitment from staff, as soon as the manager’s back is turned, apathetic behaviors surface,” said Davies. “Instead of focusing on compliance, managers need to focus on creating a culture of care. By doing so, they’ll ensure a consistent high standard of service in their team and win the sales other companies lose to poor service.”

What managers need to do is transform their service culture to one of care and commitment. For training to be effective, it needs to connect with people's hearts and mind, according to Authentic Training. Training that focuses solely on skills and standards does little to increase service in the long run, as there is no real motivation and commitment from staff.

Investing in training solution that understands how to engage sales personnel’s’ enthusiasm, and not just their brain, is an important component of turning hires into brand ambassadors.

Edited by Braden Becker