Why customer service is so important post-Covid

06 October 2021, 07:03 AM
  • Customer loyalty will be key for boosting sales – whether online or offline – after Covid, argues Caroline Black, head of UK Level 1 service and customer success at Worldline
Why customer service is so important post-Covid

High-end and bespoke food retailers often have a greater degree of understanding of their customers, as their interactions are typically more personal. But relying on this alone to keep your business thriving in a post-pandemic world could be a big mistake.

Excellence is a byword for farm shops, food halls and delicatessens that create strong customer loyalty, and it is a vital part of the mix to ensure your customers continue to come back again and again. In fact, 73% of customers say they make a future buying decision at least partly based on their previous experience with a brand, according to research from PwC. 

The race to cut prices for many food retailers is not necessarily a wise move, especially as 43% of customers say they would pay a premium for greater convenience while 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. 

Covid-19 has changed our shopping habits

However, while the customer experience is key, fine food retailers need to appreciate that without offering clients the ability to shop online when they need or want to, they are likely to miss out to competitors who do. 

The pandemic has forced customers to use online services, and the convenience of this habit makes it one that is hard to break. In 2019, before the pandemic, just one in 10 businesses said creating better customer experiences was a digital priority. Now, any business not offering an option to shop online could be losing custom. It is estimated that 59% of businesses have increased the speed of their digital transformation. If your business is not one of them, you need to catch up fast.

We saw many businesses close their doors during the pandemic because they lagged behind competitors in their adoption of technology. For example, Debenhams and the Arcadia fashion retail group – which owned brands such as Burtons, Miss Selfridge, Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins among others – all either fell into administration between 2020 and 2021 or moved their businesses entirely online.

Customers expect a seamless buying experience no matter how they interact with you these days and failing to deliver could result in customers voting with their feet. We know what that means – no customers, no business. 

A key way to ensure a high standard of customer experience is enjoyed no matter how they interact with your business is through a payment services provider with a strong proposition both online and in-store.

People want fast service, quick payments and no hanging around. To this end, contactless payments are at the forefront of people’s minds. Increasingly people expect to pay for their goods with anything from their mobile phone to their watch.

The QSR experience has created change

Delivery company partnerships became essential during the pandemic for the likes of McDonald’s, KFC and Starbucks as customers were not able to come to them to buy. This model is set to continue after the pandemic as the convenience for customers is too desirable to give up.

The same goes for any food retail business. If you are not offering food deliveries to your customers yet, it is time to look at how you might be able to do this. Working with the likes of Deliveroo, for example, is an option. Or maybe you would prefer to keep your delivery services in-house so you can control the customer experience more effectively.

Either way, it is important that interaction with people is not forgotten about in the bid to boost profits. Despite the desire for slick retail and food purchases, customers still value interaction with a human being.

In fact, three quarters of consumers worldwide said they wanted more human interaction in the future according to PwC prior to the pandemic, and exceptional customer service is still a driver for 26% of customers.

Fine food retailers have always been aware that customer service is a big part of their proposition to entice customers to return. But supporting this with a strong online offering to ensure every interaction, no matter how it occurs, is fast and efficient, is essential.

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