It may seem like common sense but how many times do businesses still fail to get customer acknowledgement right? First impressions last, they set the tone for all future interactions between us.
On many mystery shopping surveys acknowledgement often jumps straight to the top of the list as a key service measurement. This is partly because it’s very often the first part of the customer journey, but also because it can often be a key indicator for the overall service delivery and how a business treats its customers in general.
Setting the bar for customer acknowledgment
Every business has its own unique set of requirements and customer service standards. If you’re in a car showroom, you might want to browse for a while before being asked if you need any help, however if you’re in a restaurant you would expect to be acknowledged straight away and shown to your table. Subtle differences in timing can have a big impact on overall customer satisfaction. Managing a customer’s expectations by being there at the right time is key to building a good rapport.
Report on first impressions the with a clear framework
If you have a set of service standards which states that every customer should be asked if they need help within five minutes, then make this is a measurable action. If it’s a combination of initial acknowledgement and a more in-depth needs gathering exercise, then make sure that this is recorded in multiple parts but within the same sectional ‘first impressions’ scoring. This helps to build an overall picture and mystery shop score depending on your business model. It can also help to handle variations in approach. Additional qualitative commentary to support the scoring will help you to understand more complex approaches to the customer journey.
Acknowledgement is more than just a perfunctory action though, it’s your chance to engage the customer and help ascertain their needs. This in turn provides the foundation for good service and increases the chance that your customer will either make a purchase or recommend you to a friend.
But all my customers use self-service
Of course, there are instances where self-service is becoming more common and the point at which acknowledgement occurs is changing. Shoppers in many stores may now only interact at the final checkout stage, particularly in the fast food, convenience and forecourt sector.
This has a benefit of leaving staff to become utilised in other areas of the business to make sure elements such as stock levels, hygiene and cleanliness are more effectively maintained.
Retail is rapidly changing and is finely balanced between using technology which improves service and the need for physical staff to be there in support. This is why customer acknowledgment and the ability of your staff to handle the unexpected will always be an integral part of business.