5 Retail Customer Service Mistakes to Avoid | Fora Financial Blog
5 Customer Service Mistakes That Your Retail Business Could Be Making
July 03, 2018

5 Customer Service Mistakes That Your Retail Business Could Be Making

With the importance placed on online reviews and social media, providing excellent customer service is more important than ever. According to research by Zendesk, 95 percent of people share bad customer service experiences with others, and also found that 88 percent of patrons have been influenced by a negative review while shopping. The bottom line: bad customer service could be detrimental to your retail business.

In this post, we’ll list five customer service mistakes your retail business could be making, and provide actionable advice on how you can combat those issues.

Are You Making These Retail Customer Service Mistakes?

1. You Ignore Phone Calls

According to research by cloud-based call center software Aircall, 80 percent of all business communication takes place over the phone, and 85 percent of customers who call and don’t get through won’t call back.

If a customer calls and has a question about a product or wants to place an order and you don’t answer the phone, you could lose their business. To avoid this, try to keep one person on the phones at all times. Even if this person is sorting merchandise in the storage room, they can answer calls while completing other tasks.

2. Your Staff Isn’t Well-Trained

Staff training should be comprehensive and include customer service skills training. Not only should employees know about the products they’re selling, but they should also understand company policies for interacting with customers. If you find your staff isn’t up to par in this area, create a training manual and give them time to study it. Then, make them take a written test to ensure they understand the information, or shadow them during the work day to see how they react to customer questions and common situations. If they fail, make them work on non-customer-facing tasks until they’re ready to provide excellent service to your patrons.

3. There Are Long Lines at the Registers

Let’s face it – people don’t like to wait in lines. Americans are busier than ever, and you’re likely only one of five stops on their to-do list for the day. If you find that your business has a long wait at the register, acknowledge the customer’s pain by saying, “thank you for waiting” or “I’m sorry for the inconvenience.” Addressing the issue goes a long way because the customer will believe you care about them. You could also offer freebies or discounts on their next purchase. Still, the best course of action is to make sure you have more employees working the registers. If you’re understaffed, it might be time to hire some additional employees for this area.

4. You Aren’t Offering Product Suggestions

In 2017, Americans spent 4.99 trillion dollars on retail items, and that number is expected to rise in 2018. As a business owner, your goal is to claim as much of that as possible. By offering product suggestions, you not only have the chance to upsell, but you can help customers find items they might have purchased at another store. In addition, when your employees are helpful, the customer may leave a positive review, which is good for business. If you find your employees are not offering suggestions based on what shoppers are selecting, give them advice on items that pair well together and train them on upsell techniques.

5. Employees Aren’t Friendly

It may sound simple, but a smile can go a long way in ensuring that customers have a positive experience at your store. People want to see a friendly face that is ready to help them if needed.

Due to this, employees should always be friendly so that your customers feel welcome at the store. This is true not only in-person, but also on the phone. If employees are rude or dismissive on the phone, it’s likely that customers won’t come into your store in the future. Providing a positive work environment is one way to keep employees happy, which will transfer to your customers.


Customer service is a major part of running a successful retail business, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Customers will remember their experience at your store and will notice how employees treated them. By improving your retail store’s customer service experience, you’ll have happier customers, which could lead to increased profit.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].