Knowledgeable staff twice ranked twice as important in-store than online, BT reports

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Consumers rank the availability of knowlegeable staff highly and twice as much in-store as online, according to Nicola Millard, BT customer experience futurologist.

Presenting the latest on- and offline shopper trends at the 2014 IGD Convention, Millard said shoppers rate their shopping experiences but there is room for improvement – just 3% believe retailers are doing a fantastic job.

According to BT’s research, Amazon scores best for customer service, rated by 76% of shoppers.

Older customers are less satisfied than younger shoppers, however, and the former group’s propensity to use physical stores is greater than for the latter. And Millard warned delegates against forgetting older shoppers and alienating them.

While loyalty is widely reported to be dead in the UK, Millard said there were “seeds of loyalty” and customers do come back if shopping is easy and convenient.

Loyalty cards, meanwhile, are ranked as being important; even though many shoppers carry three to four cards in their wallets.

Shoppers are increasingly buying on- and offline and there is paranoia about showrooming, Millard said.

“It’s there but is not a very dominant behaviour – only 5% say they do this.”

Smartphones do change behaviour but are used as a research versus purchase tools and “try street” is very much in evidence, Millard said.

Issues surrounding online fulfilment are driving the popularity of click and collect and the service is now a ‘hygiene factor’, according to Millard.

Millard highlighted the different shopping behaviours of men and women.

“Men don’t like people getting in their way in-store. Women like things that drive convenience. But behaviours change online,” she said. ‘Women do precision shopping online, while men behave more like women.”

Millard advised delegates that for people to adopt technology it had to satisfy three Us and be: useful, usable and used.