Do Retailers Really Understand What Customers Want?

Call Center | 2 minute read

Do Retailers Really Understand What Customers Want?We’re all well aware of the major hurdle retailers face: understanding consumer buying habits. Spending habits have changed drastically throughout the years and it’s crucial for retailers to recognize current trends.

It’s not always the case that consumer behavior varies by age. For example, the ferocious Millennials (anyone born between 1980-2000) are 1.5 times more likely to make a retail purchase using their mobile devices and 3 times more likely to be influenced by social media. However, across all age groups (Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers), 40-41% say they would shop online or via mobile if they wanted a product outside of business hours.

In the digital era, it’s no surprise that buyers want efficiency and convenience. In a recent survey:

  • 49% said retailers need to offer better integration of shopping channels to improve the experience.
  • 94% found in-store shopping easy and 74% said the same of online shopping.
  • Only 26% found the mobile shopping experience easy.

Buyers want efficiency and convenience

With all this talk about in-store, online and mobile shopping, I began to wonder what people had to say about the customer experience when calling a retailer. The importance of customer service NEEDS to be addressed across ALL channels. As a Millennial myself, if I can’t find information online, I quickly resort to picking up the phone.

I sourced to further investigate what tweeters had to say about the retail experience over the phone. In these cases, it seems service is not up to par:

The last thing customers want to do is wait on hold. The phone channel is one of the most critical interaction points a retailer can have with a customer. Companies need to consider how long it takes to answer a call and resolve an issue, in order to maintain consumer satisfaction. The more seamless and efficient the calling experience is, the happier your customer will be.

STELLAService talks about how some (but not all) retailers advertise the estimated hold time as a way of setting expectations for the customer. Dr. Roland Rust, Director of the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland, says,

Prospect theory states that if people have an expectation and it’s exceeded, there will be a bonus to the company.

It could very well be that retailers are promoting longer-than-normal estimated hold times in order to make it appear that they’re exceeding customer expectations; however there are other ways of surprising your customers with great customer service!

Call-back solutions have been around for quite some time and more and more organizations are seeing a need for it. It’s surprising when you actually get a live person on the other line after dialing a support number –  we’re all too accustomed to waiting on hold. Imagine being offered this when hold times are too long … “Press 1 and receive a call-back from the next available agent”. Maintaining efficiency and convenience on the phone – the same way it’s done online – will create the seamless experience your customers crave.


This site provides consumers with a platform to post and discuss their aggravations. It catalogs and publishes tweets from people waiting on hold and alerts the offending company – ultimately giving consumers a voice. We’re hoping the pressure will motivate companies to take necessary steps that will improve the call center experience.

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