On-the-job Performance

Top five factors that influence retail customer satisfaction

Posted on: January 11, 2023Updated on: July 15, 2024By: Sean Tarry

Although the way retailers operate has evolved over time—dramatically so in recent memory—the core tenets and industry objectives have not markedly changed and continue to support one main goal: creating exceptional customer service and experiences. And as we collectively move deeper into a post-pandemic era, one where existing customers are increasingly seeking tactile experiences, the role that store staff play in satisfying these needs and desires is more significant than ever before. This means there’s a real opportunity for a brand to differentiate itself from its competitors by seizing the moment.

The increased importance of the role that associates play within the store environment has also been rightly prioritized by retail decision-makers. According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, improving the customer experience is the fastest-growing priority among customer care organizations.

But it’s not enough to simply understand the critical importance of staff in delivering a first-class customer experience. Identifying exactly how their engagement and participation impacts every interaction allows retailers to properly prepare them with the right-fit tools and knowledge that they need to excel at their jobs and elevate the brand in the hearts, and wallets, of loyal customers.

Retail Employee Folding Clothes

With this in mind, here are the top five factors that influence customer satisfaction and how to enable your staff to deliver exceptional retail experiences:

5. Appealing in-store environment

There are few elements of the retail experience that are more important than the first impression. From the store’s lighting, music and décor to the organization of its merchandise and the energy and attitude of its staff, there are a number of aspects that impact the atmosphere that’s created within a store. Taken collectively, they can significantly affect customer satisfaction, attracting or repelling new and returning shoppers alike. (We’ve all walked by a store where the music was too loud or the smells too perfumey, factors that immediately influence whether we walk inside or keep going.)

One of the strategies that contribute to a positive, organized and engaging in-store environment is the development and execution of effective task management. This ensures that roles among staff are clearly defined and the goals and objectives of the brand become crystallized in day-to-day tasks and operations. Communication between management and team members is also enhanced since there’s transparency about expectations and clear role delegation. 

This all leads to a store that runs smoothly, with product properly stocked, displays arranged in an orderly manner and store associates ready and able to address consumer needs with an eye toward earning high customer satisfaction scores and improving customer retention.

4. Dedicated, engaged and informed staff

Ensuring that the store is staffed with eager and enthusiastic employees is another critical layer to any successful retail operation. But unlocking the ways that individual associates are best motivated is especially important when it comes to the service quality that they can provide visitors.

Going beyond fundamental task completion to effective task management also provides retail staff with the tools and information they need to excel within their roles. Providing a holistic view of how any individual role, and performance within that role, impacts the entire operation allows associates to better understand their contribution and the contributions of their colleagues. It also fosters collaboration and teamwork. 

And, when an associate understands their role and how they contribute to the company’s overarching goals, they are more engaged, resulting in greater productivity and profit for the brand. In fact, according to recent Gallup data, an engaged employee translates into some pretty astounding results—an 18% increase in productivity, 10% increase in customer loyalty and engagement and a 23% increase in profitability for the business.

3. Effective and knowledgeable approach

As connected and savvy as today’s consumer is, many are searching for a human connection and a personal touch when it comes to their retail shopping experiences. According to recent data by Adyen, 67% of consumers still prefer the in-store shopping experience, with 50% agreeing that retailers need to spend more time enhancing these customer satisfaction factors. In this way, the role of the retail associate escalates from intermediary to critical as soon as a shopper sets foot in the physical space. From that moment, it’s all about creating a frictionless—and ideally exceptional—journey that ends with a happy customer.

Retailers, then, need to prioritize product knowledge and associate retention, through training, reinforcement and information-sharing. This creates an environment where learning is valued and associates are encouraged to have a clear understanding of not only their role but what their co-workers are doing and how to fill any knowledge gaps. When a shopper has a question, they don’t know if it’s an associate’s first or fiftieth day on the job—they just want answers. Empowering staff to know where and how to seek out what they don’t know has a sizeable impact on whether or not the customer leaves satisfied or disgruntled.

Continuous associate training can help ensure that store staff are kept up-to-date on new offers, internal priorities and tasks so that they can quickly and seamlessly engage with existing customers. This way, they can offer up the knowledge and insights that consumers are looking for, inform their purchasing decisions and enhance their trust in the brand, which helps to breed loyal customers who keep coming back.

2. Consistent service and experience

Nothing can distract and discourage a customer like an unpredictable experience. Enabling and empowering staff to provide consistent levels of service so that experiences remain dependably similar, regardless of who’s on the schedule, helps to set valuable standards for your brand.

Maintaining, scaling and standardizing task management procedures and processes goes a long way toward shaping the service and experience that your store provides, eliminating wild discrepancies and embarrassing inconsistencies. This is especially important when considering complex networks of multiple store locations. When all associates are on the same page and reading from the same playbook—whether that takes the form of a physical manual or digital resource— everyone pulls in the same direction, resulting in a consistent experience regardless of when the customer visits or which location they choose to shop.

1. Convenient but captivating customer service

Today’s time-starved consumer is increasingly seeking a simple and convenient retail experience. After all, nothing derails a retail experience quite like points of friction that can be avoided by adding items to a digital cart or downloading an app. If customers are willing to leave the house to visit your store, you have to make it worth their while, keep it painless and then impress with excellent customer service.

By enabling and empowering staff, store managers can make sure that operational tasks are executed, removing potential barriers to an exceptional experience. And, ensuring that all associates are aligned through regular check-ins and checklists eliminates confusion concerning responsibilities. This means associates are better prepared to perform within their roles, greet customers to the store, facilitate their visit, upsell appropriately and surface loyalty program sign-ups, or other internal priorities, and support them with an exceptional level of service to satisfy their desires. When an employee is confident in performing their tasks and equipped to provide customer care, the result is a convenient and captivating customer experience.

The retail associate’s role in ensuring exceptional in-store experiences cannot be overemphasized. The ways that they can impact and influence customer satisfaction is one of the most important considerations that retailers can make today. Putting an increased focus on the employee experience, engaging and empowering staff, and providing them with the tools and information that they need to more effectively serve your customers, you can elevate retail experiences from good to unforgettable.

Sean Tarry

Sean Tarry is an experienced writer and journalist who leverages his unique storytelling abilities to bring industry news and analysis to life with over two decades of experience managing and contributing to various publications.

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