It’s time to move your systems from ‘no’ to ‘yes’

Some long-established customer service practices in business don’t make much sense when you think about them for more than a minute or two. Consider, for example, the fact that most retailers in the UK don’t allow customers to use their online sites to return store-bought purchases … even though a majority welcome online returns in their bricks-and-mortar stores.

How is this reasonable, much less good customer service practice? Obviously, upon examination, it’s not. But — clearly — not enough retailers have ever gotten to the point of examination. It just wasn’t something they thought about … even if a good number of customers did.

Until now. The rapid development of cross-channel, omni-channel, digital and “smart” customer service is leading a significant portion — 30 percent — of major retailers in the UK to make plans to install systems that will enable customers to return in-store purchases via the Web, according to a recent study by Martec International for the software and services company Omnico.

And that’s not all. The study also found that 32 percent of retailers plan to implement technology that will let customers order from the Web while they’re in a shop, or order an item that’s in stock at another store if the shop they’re in doesn’t have it.

At the heart of such changes is a simple philosophy, the study says: “say yes more.”

“What surprised me most from this research was the conclusion that many retailers are often having to say ‘no’ to their customers,” Omnico Group CEO Mel Taylor wrote in his foreword to the study. “Most retailers currently don’t have a single view of a particular customer’s sales, refunds and order activities and often don’t have a single view of the product range available in all channels either. They’re unlikely to be able to aid a customer’s order query, upsell to them at the point of sale, or even encourage any sense of brand loyalty.”

Changing such habits has a definite impact on a business’ bottom line. According to Taylor, in-store customers who are able to order an out-of-stock item before walking out the door increase overall sales by 3.5 percent, which amounts to £10 billion.

If you’re a business that currently says no to such customer services, it’s clearly time to rethink those old habits and find a way to say yes instead.

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