October 2019
7 Min
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Advantages of shops overcrowding
Experience of four global retail brands 

Artem Petrusenko

Client Service Manager. Process improvements, KPI’s management, customer serice enhancement

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Today we can say with confidence that high quality of customer service is not only a competitive advantage of the organization, but it also has a great impact on the formation of customer loyalty, shifting the focus from the issue of price to the issue of satisfaction with the service. Now the concept of quality service, apart from the convenience of location, a wide range of products, leadership in the product group, and sometimes even competitive prices, includes such elements as politeness of employees of the company, product knowledge, involvement of personnel in the process of product selection, assistance from their side and enthusiasm. 

Every customer faces the problem of daily choice: to buy or not to buy, what to buy, where and at what price. Each consumer has his own preferences and stereotypes that directs the decision to buy or not to buy. Still, the main factor, influencing a buyer when making a purchase and forming his loyalty to a particular brand, is not only the satisfaction of his needs in the course of service but also the ability to exceed his expectations.

Scheduling practice shows that qualitative service includes all the interaction stages with customers. It implies a demonstration of the elements of the product to the potential customer, information about its qualities, conditions of purchase and further types of service. In some types of services, a customer is provided with conditions to actively participate in pre-sale services. To provide visitors with the necessary information, demonstrate services, convince them in the high level of corporate service and motivate them to purchase services is the main purpose.

Many stores attract their visitors at the expense of other customers. After all, what can be better than advertising directly from the client?  But, because of the large influx of visitors, the quality of service provided to your customers can be significantly reduced.

Our research has shown that 46% of visits to the four retail brands, that we were testing on the standards’ performance, were held during the high number of people in the store at the time. We’ve made 80 visits on average for each store. In most cases, we observed a high load of stores. The number of purchases in the store has not changed due to the high and low inflow of people. Some shoppers consider retail stores more attractive when they are overcrowded. But the quality of service has been significantly affected. According to the analytics data, we observe a sufficient dropdown in the standards’ performance. For example, in several cases, service and interaction index dropped by 10 points which means that staff was not able to pay proper attention to everybody in the store. The results of our study showed that the perception of overload in stores has a positive impact on the image of the store.

What to do in this case to keep the influx of visitors without reducing the standards of service?

Here are some examples of the most successful world-known solutions to preserve the service in conditions of overcrowding:

  1. The platform Workform is a startup, designed to help freelancers “find a place to work outside home or office” in cities around the world. Before leaving their home or office, freelancers can learn how likely it is that they are to find an empty space in a cafe. To do this, a ‘doohickey’ technology uses a pair of infrared distance sensors to count each incoming person and pass this information through the Internet to you in real-time mode. So, the users can always know in advance how many people to expect.
  2. Often, сrowds in the stores are thinning out on holidays and during weekends. A prime example of how to solve the problem these days is the U.S. retail brand of electronics Best Buy. For years, the company has been controlling the crowd of visitors for Thanksgiving days and all sorts of sales days by sending groups of employees to parking lots to distribute the tickets at extremely low prices. Tickets are issued early in the morning and each customer is given one ticket per each item he or she is going to purchase. This has significantly reduced the number of uncontrolled visitors to the store. After all, they had a guarantee that they would buy a discounted item.
  3. A new retail marketing trend is life experience. Different events usually exert a great impact on customers, promoting physical contact with the product/ service and having a good time while the consumers are in the store. As a great example of how the retail experience is perceived as a new style of retail marketing, IKEA organized an overnight stay for more than 100 customers in one of its stores. It helped to organize customers and reduce the negative impact of The event was attended by a sleep expert, who gave advice on how to sleep well at night and what type of mattress is best suited for clients’ sleep styles. Such live experiences helps customers connect better with the brand.

To manage the crowd during the Black Friday period, some stores usually plan to serve drinks to the customers or offer entertainment while they are in line to stay calm. In addition, the stores mention that establishing mutual understanding with customers makes the news of sales and long queues more acceptable.

But if you suffer from overcrowding even on a usual day, there are recommendations below what you can do right now to keep your service on a proper level and make your clients happier:

  1. Try to distract customers while they are waiting in line.  Playing music, showing videos, or entertaining customers in some other way can distract their attention from boring waiting in the line.
  2. Inform your customers about the situation. This is especially important if the queue is larger than usual. Explain the customers the reason for the situation and what exactly is being done to speed up the service process.
  3. Do not place employees who are not directly involved in customer service in front of the queue. Nothing irritates people in the queue as much as the type of staff who could potentially serve them, but who are busy doing other things.
  4. Break the queue.  If you can identify a group of clients who take a short time to be served, separate them into another queue so that they are not held back by those consumers who need more time for assistance.
  5. Personalize the service. Prepare staff to communicate with visitors and teach them to be polite and friendly.  Addressing the client by name or any other individual attention mark is very helpful to eliminate the negative atmosphere in a long queue.
  6. Conduct marketing research. Online shopping is gradually becoming a leader. So, it makes sense for users to conduct online research, even if your customers are planning to make a purchase in the store.

Consumers got used to being treated well. Nowadays customers expect retailers to do their best to make special offers and keep a record of clients’ behavior. While personalized offers may seem like additional efforts for some retailers, they have now become standard practice for the consumers. Real-time emotional and behavioral client data, purchase history and mood analysis take analytics to the next level. A deep understanding of personal wishes and preferences of each individual customer is what the most successful brands are striving for now.

 

 

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