Poor telephone support is time bomb amid growing online sales, claims training specialist

According to the British Retail Consortium, Christmas on the internet was alive with the sound of ringing tills.  This boom time, according to a leading sales and training organisation reinforces the need to have online sales and support staff suitably equipped to deal with an equivalent rise in customer enquiries and, inevitably, customer complaints.

The time bomb, according to Doug Tucker, managing director of Sales Commando, is in poor telephone support.  If, like any other retailer, online stores aren’t providing exemplary customer service then the customer will change allegiance. And, because of the immediate nature of the internet, more rapidly so too. Maybe even leaving a bad comment or a one star review along the way.

Tucker said: “It’s a fallacy to believe that, from a psychological point of view, internet retailers don’t need the human contact element. Technology only goes so far and people still need to communicate with people.”

During the latest Christmas period, high street sales rose by 0.4% and internet sales by 19.2%. Newspapers are full to bursting of reports on internet sales increases and administrators walking into some of our once favourite high street retailers.

Tucker believes this is simply a “transference of business” and that people who shop online have the same demands as when they shopped on the high street.

“Just because your retail website has easily browseable goods and a rapid, automated order system, doesn’t mean that it’s a meal-ticket to profit. Imagine your customer speaking to a sales assistant in a high street store. This is exactly how your new online customer expects to be treated when they telephone, because they are one and the same person.”

“And yet, while high street stores have historically invested in sales training, in our experience online retail stores are dragging their feet in this most critical area.”

Sales Commando has provided telephone sales training for some of the world’s biggest blue chip organisations, on and off line. In both situations, Doug Tucker has noticed the same pattern. When a customer calls, or walks through the door, for whatever reason it’s an opportunity to create sales and goodwill.

“People have the same demands whether they’re online or footfall. Sales training, and especially telephone sales training in the case of online retailers, is vital to the success of any retail operation.”

Tuckers said: “Get it wrong, don’t provide a suitable level of training for your telephone support staff, miss the opportunity to create goodwill or gain that extra sale and just as they do on the high street, customers will vote with their feet.”