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Customer Service

GUEST BLOG: Why retail brand image has never been more important

Do you think that your brand is welcomed by the public? Brand awareness is one of the most significant factors that contribute to the successful running of a business.

You want to make a great first impression that will last if you have aims to increase your consumer base and become a thought-leader in your sector. Dimensions investigates…

From retail to hospitality, there’s always room for improvement regarding both your own staff and customer retention. Are you ready to future proof your business?

The position of your customers

Over 70% of shoppers in the UK find the customer service more important than their product. Although you should also be prioritising the quality of your products (to reduce returns and negative reviews), you should be constantly reviewing your current customer service methods and continually think of ways that you can improve the overall service.

Although this might be the case, brands must always keep an eye open for any internal improvements. According to one study, 80% of businesses already believe that they deliver a superior service to their consumers – but only 8% of shoppers actually agree with this statement. 

It’s no secret that good customer service leads to customer trust and loyalty. Not only that, but if you’re looking to increase your consumer acquisition rates – this is a good avenue to go down. 84% of people make a purchase because of a referral; so if your first impression is worthwhile, it could lead to additional business.

Making room for improvements

Contact a corporate clothing suppliers because uniforms are an integral part of any business. You need to ensure that your employees are identifiable to customers and this can only be achieved by designing a uniform that stands out; while catering to each type of individual that works for you (considering religions etc). 

Because more businesses are letting staff wear what they desire, costs are arising around monitoring and making sure that everyone looks suitable. As well as this, uniforms represent your business – so you must design them in the correct way and prioritise employee comfort to ensure you receive the best delivery from them. 

If you chat with your staff about what they want from your business, it will likely be progression, and this can be achieved through skill development. This should cover ways that they interact with consumers of all kind (race, religion, disability) and offer the most efficient service possible to show that you’re a reputable brand. On top of this training, you should also make your staff aware of any new products or services that you begin to offer so that they can give customers all of the information that they require.

There are other areas that can be looked into. Research has suggested that customers will spend up to 13 minutes in a store — so it’s important that you deliver an exceptional service. Queues are notoriously long here in the UK and can be the biggest contributing factor to a customer’s walk-out. To combat this, why not look at queue management software and point of sales service?


UK consumers ‘contacting brands nearly half a billion times every month’

Research has highlighted the growing volume of consumer queries that UK brands now need to handle across eCommerce, complaints and the like, and the increasing cost this imposes on companies – estimated at £1.227 billion.

The average UK consumer now contacts organisations nine times per month, according to research undertaken as part of the 2018 Eptica Customer Experience Automation Study.

Across the adult population this means brands need to respond to 463.5 million contacts every month, and the figure is rising.

88% of those surveyed said they now contact companies more or the same number of times as five years ago – with 16% getting in touch more than twice as often.

Increasingly, consumers are happy to embrace self-service channels where they can find their own answers, without needing to contact brands through email, the telephone, chat or social media.

83% already use or are willing to use web self-service systems, which analyse queries and deliver automatic instant answers on a company website, while over half (54%) would use intelligent voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Siri from Apple to gain information. 64% also want to use automated, artificial intelligence-powered chatbots.

Using industry average figures from analysts Contact Babel[1], answering these queries costs the UK economy £1.227 billion across the telephone, web, email, social media and chat channels. This is made up of £440.44m (email), £236.98m (social media), £211.99m (chat) and £338.31m (telephone).

In contrast automated channels such as self-service, chatbots and voice assistants have a negligible cost per interaction once they are in place.

“Delivering an excellent customer experience is crucial to every organisation today. However, our research shows the scale of the challenge brands face, with consumers getting in contact nearly half a billion times every month in the UK,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder, Eptica. “Clearly many of these conversations are complex and require the human touch, but others could be automated, speeding up the process for consumers and increasing efficiency for brands.”

Demonstrating the multichannel nature of today’s customer experience, on average each UK consumer used email for 27% of their interactions by brands, followed by web self-service, telephone and social media (17%) each, with 11% of contacts through chat and chatbots respectively.

“Reducing the number of contacts by 10% would save over £122 million – enabling companies to focus resources where they are needed most. Our research shows that consumers are open to embracing new AI-powered technologies such as voice assistants and chatbots, providing an opportunity to improve the experience and reduce costs at the same time,” added Olivier Njamfa.

For the research 1,000 UK consumers were surveyed online in Q3 2018.

The full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands is available here.

An infographic on the results is available here.

Big-name UK retailers still baffled by eCommerce basics…

Research published on eCommerce performance has revealed that UK retailers are missing out on £2 billion in online revenue every year due to the running of slow websites and failing to introduce ‘guest checkouts’.

Based on four key factors: technology, marketing, trading, and service and logistics, the Scorecard analysis conducted by Summit found Argos and Sainsbury’s to be the top performers across the board, closely followed by John Lewis, Screwfix and Tesco.

Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Topshop and Superdrug all hold the bottom position with an overall score of 56 per cent, and as a result of limited contact options and slow response times for customers, Topshop scored just 13 per cent for online customer service.

The report also found that 38 per cent of the top 50 retailers do not have a guest checkout option, costing an estimated £1 billion per year as over a quarter of shoppers abandon their baskets without this option.

Hedley Aylott, co-founder and CEO at Summit said: “The Summit Scorecard provides us with an understanding of what the top 50 UK retailers are really like to shop with online. “While retailers have made huge strides, with most now getting mobile right, many are still struggling to offer delivery options that meet shoppers’ needs.

While this will not be an easy fix, no-one in retail needs further convincing or evidence of the importance of the online experience on overall profitability. These results are confirmation that there is still a lot of room for improvement, highlighting the real opportunity for retailers to fix some of the basics.”

Despite the imperfections, when looking at eCommerce technology and mobile compatibility, Scorecard discovered that 92 per cent of the top 50 retailers have websites built for mobile.
To download the full report, click here

Shop Direct ‘first UK retailer to launch WhatsApp-style service platform’…

Shop Direct has become the first UK-based retailer to apply conversational user interface (CUI) technology for customer service, launching ‘Very Assistant’ for customers to find answers to their questions in a WhatsApp–style chat environment.  

The owner of,, and has initially made the automated platform available via the iOS app, and claims the technology makes the user journey even simpler for customer service questions, allowing people to easily interact with representatives in a format that they are adept at using on a day-to-day basis. 

Developed in-house by Shop Direct’s multi-award-winning eCommerce team, Very Assistant works by asking the app user if they need any help. The customer is then presented with a sequence of questions and multiple action options, which the customer taps within the chat environment. The customer’s answers enable the platform to instantly serve up the information they are looking for. 

Jonathan Wall, eCommerce director at Shop Direct said: “This fully native platform is squarely focused on what our customers need. It’s delivered through our app because that’s where they want to have questions answered. It’s also the best place for us to collect feedback and constantly improve Very Assistant. 

“We think this new technology will simplify our user journey, improve satisfaction, and help to boost efficiency in our customer service operation. It’s also the first step towards ‘natural language’, AI-driven CUI – which is something we’re hugely excited about.” 

Customers can use Very Assistant to make a payment on their account, check their payment dates, track an order, confirm that recent payments have been processed and request a reminder of their account number. 

Guest Blog, George Skaff: Utilising multichannel customer service in retail…

The concept of customer service has evolved well beyond just a friendly face behind a retail counter and a polite conversation: today, consumers want access to instant service that is not only personalised to their specific needs, but is accessible at a time that suits them, and via the communication channel they want to use. In our ‘always on, always connected’ world, we are very much in the age of the customer who has the option to contact a brand in numerous ways – whether it’s the traditional face-to-face in store, through email, via the web, using online live chat, sending an SMS text or, increasingly, via social media.

Retailers are faced with a dilemma of just how the varying methods of inbound enquiries can be efficiently handled to make sure customers continue to receive a consistent level of service that they have come to expect from their favourite brands and companies.

A trend we are seeing is that consumers want to be able to ‘self-serve’ to find the answers they are looking for themselves. In fact, according to Forrester Research, 84 per cent of online adults attempt to answer their own questions using digital self-service applications. However, 53 per cent are likely to abandon their purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question.

The self-service market is ripe with opportunity, and, personally, I believe that identifying the optimal juncture between virtual and human-powered customer service technologies will be an industry game-changer for retailers.

Intelligent Virtual Assistant (VA) technology is a particularly high interest topic of conversation right now. VA is designed to support the brands in delivering this ‘anytime, anyplace’ service; in conjunction with existing customer service teams, VA, chat bots and related technologies are really generating a lot of interest. By integrating VA technology to a brand’s digital service, it means consumers can ask questions and will be directed to where they need to go via the intelligent technology, creating efficiencies and cost savings.

Where this technology really comes into its own is, as well as understanding natural flowing language, VA is also able to ask clarifying questions. Furthermore, if the consumer decides they need to speak with a live agent for a specific query, having the ability to instantly transition to a live agent who can see the context of the conversation that has taken place with the VA, is when the technology really makes a difference.

Retail customer journeys involve multiple touch-points. Through an omnichannel programme, retailers are able to follow the customer across all touch-points and continually engage via virtual assistants and live agent support; ultimately guiding them to complete a satisfying purchase experience.

In conclusion, the sharp explosion of smartphone and tablet use in consumer shopping habits has really changed the way that brands relate to their customers. For retailers striving to acquire industry leader status, now is the time to fully embrace an integrated omni-channel experience.


George is responsible for all worldwide marketing activities at TouchCommerce. In that role, he oversees all corporate marketing, customer marketing, demand generation, product marketing, public and industry relations. George has over 25 years of progressive experience in the computer industry, and has demonstrated a proven business expertise in marketing and strategic partnerships.