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Winning with customer service

Customer service is increasingly critical these days. According to a Gallup survey ( of 18,665 employees in the USA, customers are becoming more demanding and expect higher levels of service. The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened customer expectations, contributing to survey results that reported staff feeling burned out at work “very often” or “always”.


“Customers are more demanding and are less tolerant of any perception of failure or error.”


“Customers expect to be waited on immediately. They want personal service, and no one else matters. They are first, no matter what else you are dealing with.”



Staffing issues are the biggest barrier to delivering exceptional customer service and specialty retailers worldwide are experiencing a critical staff shortage. This shortage is feeding a cycle in which experienced employees are burning out, delivering worse customer service, and quitting their jobs. As a result, staffing problems and more unhappy customers arise.


The whole retail sector is affected, not just owner-operated stores. Corporate and discount chains have had to delay store openings or even close some stores.


Be local and personal

To strengthen your store’s point of difference, prioritise personal service when you are on the shop floor. Customers form the strongest, most loyal bonds with businesses where they know someone who listens and responds to their needs. Large corporations cannot have one-to-one personal relationships with customers. Leverage this critical advantage and build a business culture that emphasises personal customer care.


Set goals and measure

Employees need to understand how their job affects the customer experience, regardless of their role. Everyone in the business, from admin staff, to cleaners, and front-of-store to delivery people, must be reminded that their attitude and behaviour make a difference.

In the Gallup study, only 19% of employees reported having customer-oriented goals. Adding goals to monitor whether staff are creating customer impact is one way to build a customer-centric focus in your team.


Our RPM software has enabled the Independent Pharmacy Group in New Zealand to use three key metrics to track their in-store customer engagement:


What it measures


The value of the retail average sale

This reflects both the time spent with customers and the expertise of the staff member

$30.00 average sale

-      Customers who self-select spend $20

-      “Expert” sales staff achieve $45 or more

Share of retail sales that are to club customers

This shows whether your team is consistently asking customers if they are in your loyalty club

At least 50% of total retail sales should be to club members if your customer club is being actively promoted

New loyalty club sign-ups

Shows whether your staff are inviting new customers to join the club and then completing this important step

10% conversion rate 

of non-club members shows that staff are asking the right questions

 *Examples only - based on a typical NZ community pharmacy

Getting ahead

Although the workforce shortage is not going to disappear overnight, there is an opportunity for motivated retail store owners to improve their competitive position by prioritising their team’s efforts to exceed customer expectations.


By ensuring you deliver on your promises to customers in the tough times, you deepen relationships with customers who will stay with you, even when they have more choice about where to shop. The organisations that win customers will win the future.


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