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Brand Week reports on the latest edition of the Retail Service Quality Index, which says that US retailers’ customer service index stands at 48.2 out of a possible 100 - a measurement that by almost any standard would be a failing grade.

According to the story, many of the problems detected had as much to do with a lack of imagination as anything - possibilities undetected and opportunities ignored for employees to provide a modicum of service: “The results showed that in more than a quarter of interactions measured, employees failed to see a service opportunity that was at hand, or ignored the customer at the time of expected interaction ... Associates performed poorly when they were expected to exercise greater observation and engagement skills.

“Specifically, they had trouble seizing opportunities to demonstrate customer service when it required identifying and responding to indirect signals (1.3 out of 10) or handling multiple shoppers on the sales floor (4 out of 10).”

The Index was compiled by the Salt & Pepper Group, a retail sales and strategy consultancy.
KC's View:
To be fair, this survey did not look at food retail...but the results remain instructive. How many employees are trained to look for and then act on the moment at which they might have the greatest impact on the shopping experience? Training and reward systems tend to have more to do with things like punctuality and efficiency, and not the ultimate in effectiveness - consumer engagement - that tend to be a differential advantage for those that get it right.