31% of North American retailers remain unable to identify their customers at the point of sale (POS), according to [download page] a survey released in January 2012 by Boston Retail Partners (BRP), which also found that no retailers identify customers by mobile device. The most common customer contact information available at the POS includes telephone numbers (38%), customer/identification number (34%), email address (34%), name and address (31%), and member/club number (28%).
Roughly one-quarter of respondents say driver’s license and private label credit card information is available to them at the POS.
32% of retailers also report that they are not providing customer information to associates at the store level. Half the retailers surveyed said they can access customer contact information, and 54% can access transaction information for returns. However, only one-quarter can access sales history at the store level, and just 14% can access information such as warranty and service lookup, purchase summary, or customer-specific offers and discounts.
Furthermore, 38% of the retailers surveyed have no plans to implement the ability to view period and life-to-date customer summary information, and 35% have no plans to implement full transaction history lookup ability or customer-specific messaging.
Although retailers’ lack of store-level customer data and plans to implement customer-specific messaging might suggest that customer service is not a top focus, 3 in 5 retailers identified customer service as a top store-level priority, ahead of multi-channel integration (52%) and associate training (37%). According to BRP insight, the key for successful retailers is to take customer service to the next level and realize that an optimal shopping experience is key to gaining and holding on to customer loyalty.
Data from BRP’s “13th Annual POS Benchmarking Survey” indicates that retailers are in agreement that customer service is important to customers, with 82% saying it is very important, and the remaining 18% identifying it as important. Indeed, according to survey results released in January 2012 by Weber Shandwick, the quality of specific companies’ customer service is the second-most discussed topics among global consumers, cited by 55% of respondents.
A majority of BRP survey respondents also agree that efficient processing at the register/speed of service (75%) and in-stock position (71%) are very important to customers. Of note, one-third said that self service options are not important to consumers. Retailers may be missing the mark on that aspect, though: a Cisco Internet Solutions Business Group survey released in January 2012 found that a majority of US and UK shoppers report current activity (24%) or interest (29%) in conducting research at an in-store kiosk and making their purchase immediately in the store. Additonally, a Motorola Solutions survey released in December 2011 found that the vast majority of shoppers report that self-help technologies have improved their shopping experience, with the highest approvals being for price checkers (83%), self-checkout payment lanes (65%), and information kiosks (59%).
About the Data: The BRP results are based on a survey of more than 500 top North American retailers in November and December 2011. Over two-thirds of the retail respondents fell into the specialty category with the remainder in other lines of trade such as automotive, furniture, and grocery. Of the retailers surveyed, the breakdown in size based on gross annual revenue included a broad selection of Tier 1, 2, and 3 retailers, with 43% falling under $1 billion and the other 57% with revenue above $1 billion. The specific respondents for each company were mainly Vice President/Director of IT or C-level executives.
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