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Over half of retail workers (54%) admit they have been in a situation where they felt customers had more knowledge about products than they do, indicating a knowledge gap, according to new research

The research by voice communication specialists, VoCoVo .reveals that the issue is not down to lack of confidence, with almost all retail staff (98%) saying they feel confident answering customers’ questions in-store. However, nearly half (46%) admit to knowingly providing inaccurate information to customers just to provide an answer.

“These findings highlight the pressure retailers are under when it comes to providing customers with the right level of information and assistance. Consumers now expect the same level of service in store that they can get online, often being able to find an answer within a few seconds. We are now a very impatient nation and delivering good customer service comes down to being able to quickly access the right information. Providing workers with easy means to communicate with their colleagues is key to ensuring customers have valuable interactions with store staff. To cultivate an informed retail workforce, real time knowledge sharing is as important as training and upskilling,” comments Martyn Jones, Director at VoCoVo.

Finding the right information is impacting retail workers’ productivity, with a quarter (26%) of retail workers suggesting that the time spent trying to find information for customers and staff with required knowledge are the biggest cause of staff inefficiency in their store. Other sources of inefficiency include the time spent checking the storeroom or warehouse for products (23%) and the inability to multitask on the job (20%).

The decision to provide inaccurate information could also be driven by time pressures, with nearly half of retail workers (49%) saying it typically takes them longer than a minute to answer customer queries and nearly one fifth (19%) saying it takes more than three minutes.

The biggest challenges staff face when trying to answer customer queries are multiple customers requiring attention at the same time (45%), having too many products or information to remember (42%) and the fact it takes too long to find the right information (34%).

The importance of delivering good customer service is recognised by retail workers, with over a third (39%) suggesting improving customer service is the biggest challenge facing stores. Workers think they would be able to deliver a better service in-store if they had: better training on products and queries (40%), improved communication with co-workers (39%), access to technology to improve efficiency (38%) confidence in answering customer questions (34%).

“It’s crazy in this day and age that retail workers are still struggling to communicate quickly and efficiently with customers and colleagues when the majority of us now take email, instant messaging and video calls for granted. Good customer service can make or break a brand, so retailers need to equip workers with the tools to deliver it. With the right technology, retailers can set up remote expert groups in-store to ensure colleagues are always connected and customers are immediately directed to those able to provide the information they need,” concludes Jones.

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