As the recent pandemic forced almost all customers to shop online, the world tilted towards the rapid adoption of e-commerce. Because of this, retailers are asking: “how can we personally connect with customers and provide outstanding customer service?”

This past week I experienced two very different types of customer service.

Example 1: a well-known online retailer was selling a product that I wanted to customize. I opened the online chat feature and asked my question. Two minutes later, a customer service representative chatted with me and soon had resolved my issue. I felt valued, appreciated, and will highly recommend this company to anyone.

Example 2: a well-known e-commerce site disabled my account for what appeared to be an accidental mistake. I reached out to the company and waited. Two weeks went by and they finally acknowledged their mistake and re-enabled full access to my account. To me, this was not great customer service. I felt like they didn’t care about me.

Great customer service online or in-store — helps to create loyal customers. If your brand can resolve customer issues and questions in a timely manner, customers will have no reason to choose the competition.

Customer Service and Retail

The Ritz-Carlton is still recognized as a world leader in customer service and, in turn, their service creates loyal customers. They live by their three steps of service that every employee learns and uses in daily customer interactions:

  • “A warm and sincere greeting.”
  • “Use the guest’s name. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.”
  • “Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.”

When Apple was creating their retail stores, they incorporated part of the Ritz-Carlton’s three steps of services and created the following five steps:

  • “A: Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome”
  • “P: Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs”
  • “P: Present a solution for the customer to take home today”
  • “L: Listen for and resolve issues or concerns”
  • “E: End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return”
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In the age of COVID, I’ve noticed that many retailers are happy to greet frequent customers, welcoming them to their store that was shut-down for so long. This same sentiment must be carried over online.

Customer Support in the Age of COVID

PUMA has been successful during the pandemic because they understand that personalization is a priority and had been investing in their digital platform.

“We take much more of an audience-led approach than just …  the old school batch and blast. So we’ve been more mindful about the full-funnel journey of our consumers and how they engage with us. So the product that we put forth based on who they are, their lifestyles, their interests.”

— Almedia, Vice President E-Commerce, PUMA

Brands that connect with customers, provide recommendations, personalized services and offers based on a customer’s behavior, are a great alternative to the traditional retail associate.

Business Network

Unlike a retail associate, who may move on to a different company and take that relationship with them, the online platform will use data to continue serving customers over their lifetime. This human touch is what’s missing in much of the digital world.

A customer wants a seamless experience, no matter if they’re in-store, online, on the phone, on a mobile app, or anywhere else. A personalized journey is vital to great customer service and loyal customers.

In fact, customers will spend 48% more if they are provided a personalized experience. And more than half of online shoppers are just fine with sharing personal information if they gain a better experience.

Final Thoughts

Customer service is vital to resolving issues respectfully and warmly. More importantly, it creates loyal customers. In the age of COVID, it’s vital that customer issues are resolved quickly over any channel: email, social, mobile, online chat, etc.

Your brand can easily treat customers the same, no matter if they’re standing in front of you or in an online channel.

Customers want to know that your brand is there to resolve any issues, answer any question, across any channel, and use this information to customize their experience in a positive way.