Recruit carefully to avoid staff with poor customer focus

As credit crunch hits, retailers must seek out the most dependable staff in order to keep customers.

  • Over a of quarter people have switched high street retailers due to poor customer service

  • Younger generations are the least forgiving – 30% have switched

  • South East the least tolerant – almost a third (32%) have switched

Over a quarter (27%) of the population have received such bad customer service at high street shops that they have chosen to shop elsewhere, according to research commissioned by SHL, the psychometric testing provider. The findings are worrying for the retail sector, which is gearing up for the effects of the credit crunch over Christmas and needs all the help it can get to keep shoppers happy.   

The research has found that rude staff are the biggest turn off, annoying 42% of customers, followed by queuing (26%) and lack of product knowledge (23%), highlighting the need for friendly, knowledgeable sales staff.

With customer spending expected to be slow, good service could be what marks one retailer out from another, argues SHL, and dependable staff will be a ‘must have’ for employers. To ensure they have the best possible workforce, SHL is encouraging retailers to recruit carefully, making best use of objective assessment tools such as its Dependability questionnaire.

Tolerance to customer service appears to vary according to age, with 30% of the 16 to 24 age group having switched compared to only 25% of over 55s. Men are apparently less tolerant – 28% would switch retailer compared to 25% of women – and they are also turned off by different things. Women are most annoyed by rude staff (49%), whilst men get wound up by queuing (31%) – no surprises there!

The findings also show that tolerance to customer service varies significantly across the country, with almost a third (32%) of those in the South East having switched retailers, compared to only 23% in the Midlands and North West.

David Valentine, SHL’s Global Sales Director commented: “With the Christmas shopping season upon us, it is more important than ever for retailers to look after their customers, particularly with poor sales forecasts coming thick and fast. There is nothing more off-putting than long queues and rude staff and if customers are unhappy, they will most certainly take their custom elsewhere.

He continues, “To make sure service is up to scratch, retailers must look to recruit the very best people who are dependable, reliable and customer focused. SHL’s Dependability tool can help identify these candidates and research has even shown that retail staff who score highly on Dependability are almost twice as likely to be rated highly for customer service.”

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