Back to Basics: The Politeness Problem

Image of Staff Member to show service basics VS innovation

Fierce competition is driving a retail revolution, with brands relentlessly pursuing new ways to differentiate their offering and capitalise on today’s experience economy. However, whilst this innovation arms race is undoubtedly exciting, the unfortunate consequence is that good shopkeeping fundamentals are falling by the wayside. It’s now not only possible but commonplace to visit a store without ever receiving a smile, a “Hello” or a “Thank you” – and if your staff aren’t invested in giving good service to your customers, no amount of “retail-tainment” or augmented reality is going to save you.

So why are brands failing to create these meaningful moments of connection with their customers? Most leadership teams consider good manners to be a given, so expend very little energy on encouraging and nurturing these service basics within their frontline. The upshot is that store teams fall into bad habits and deliver robotic, transactional service by default. Given that much of human decision-making is driven by emotion, with customers innately seeking out experiences that make them feel good, this is an oversight with far-reaching financial consequences.

PwC reinforces this notion in recent research that contrasts the relative importance of different facets of the CX. Elements such as personalisation, unique experiences and loyalty programmes, whilst still important, paled into insignificance compared to the core tenets of efficiency, convenience, and friendly and knowledgeable service. Even in automated, self-service environments, which are becoming ubiquitous, you often need a friendly and knowledgeable human face to play a supportive role in the experience. There is no question that significant effort and investment should be put into innovation – but not at the expense of the basics.

Brands that get the balance right tend to have three key things in common:

  1. A solid training plan for frontline staff that emphasises the importance of service basics
  2. A supportive culture that empowers employees to be customer-centric
  3. A bespoke measurement programme which allows them to continuously monitor performance

It comes down to this – would you rather your customers had an innovative experience with your brand, or a pleasant one? In an ideal world the answer would be both, but in a pragmatic world, you have to learn to walk before you can run.

For more information about how React CX can help drive your business’s CX forward, please contact us using the details below.

Amy Morgans

Insight Manager