24 January 2018

eCommerce and retail - How important is customer service?We’ve long been hearing that machines will one day steal all of our jobs. Whilst that’s not right around the corner, Amazon seem to have taken a step closer with the launch of their new cashier-less stores.

The unmanned Amazon Go store enables shoppers to purchase groceries without having to queue or pass through a traditional checkout. Customers simply scan a QR code on the way in and walk out with their goods. Cameras and algorithms track everything and charge purchases back to shoppers’ Amazon accounts.

Whilst some are saying this is setting the stage for stores of the future, I can’t help but think they’re missing a trick. A user has already flagged that the store didn’t charge them for all of their purchases – perhaps this is a blip as the technology matures. The company responded to this saying that cameras missing a product is a rare occurrence.

There’s no replacement for excellent service

For me, the key thing missing here is that there is no replacement for excellent service. Technology needs to have the human element to provide balance. UKFast could easily be classed as a technology business but actually I class us as a people business. It is our focus on the people who do extraordinary things with technology that makes us stand out. The people alongside the technology itself.

When you visit a physical store, if you can’t decide what you want to purchase, a friendly face and piece of advice is invaluable. Equally, the customer service received at the point of payment is a huge opportunity for businesses. This is a time to build relationships and ensure repeat transactions and loyalty. There has to be a balance between convenience and customer service.

Online shopping already fulfils a need for convenience without ever needing to step into a store. The bricks and mortars shops are there to offer a level of personal service that simply cannot be achieved without people on hand to support that.

Ultimately there is no replacement for the human element when it comes to customer service.

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