A guide to retail customer service (+ tips to improve it)

Priyanka Malik

March 3, 20235 min read

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While one in three customers would switch their preferred brand after just one bad experience, nearly 80% of American consumers would rate customer service experience as positive if it caters to the elements of speed, convenience, and friendly service.

Quality products may attract buyers the first time. But you can only get repeat purchases by meeting customer expectations in a timely, efficient, and pleasant way to provide a satisfying retail customer experience.

However, amidst the chaotic landscape of retail customer service, most agents struggle to juggle multiple customer queries and provide a satisfactory experience each time. Let's explore more about retail customer service, real-life examples of customer delight, and tips to level up your support strategy.

Table of Contents

What is retail customer service?

Retail customer service refers to the seamless assistance offered to customers across their purchase journey from offline and online channels. Delightful customer service is easy to deliver if you focus on three key areas:

  • Personalized customer interaction and curated customer journeys

  • Support across multiple channels such as social media, messaging platforms, and chatbots

  • Self-serve options for repetitive queries

Importance of customer service in retail

Over 70% of buying experiences depend on how brands treat customers, and the brands can drive 4-8% higher revenues by excelling at customer service.

Here are a few additional reasons for improving customer service in retail:

1. Create more loyal customers

Your customers would be willing to pay a premium if you ensure seamless post-purchase support. Your service strategy, along with a customer-centric exchange and returns policy can set you apart from your competitors and convert your casual shoppers into loyal customers.

2. Word-of-mouth publicity

Modern consumers rely heavily on their social group for developing brand image and making purchase decisions. Since customers voice their opinions on social media, poor experiences and reviews get amplified in no time.

3. Greater control of your support strategy

Customers anticipate 24/7 quick and personalized resolution on their channel of choice. Given the high customer expectations, a successful service strategy enables you to understand challenges and assist your customers proactively.

Improve your customer service with AI-powered chatbots (2023)

Top 3 examples of best retail customer service

There are a number of retailers who excel at customer support, the three below have set a customer service benchmark in the industry. Let’s see how.


IKEA provides a memorable customer experience across channels and touchpoints. The in-store experience is visually appealing and makes its customers feel at home. IKEA builds an emotional connection with its customers by allowing them to assemble their furniture. The IKEA Place Kit leverages Augmented Reality (AR) to enable customers to experience 3-D renderings of over 2000 products from different angles before reserving them in the app.

2. Amazon

Amazon's innovative Dash Cart shortens the grocery trip by allowing customers to skip long checkout queues. The cart uses an Android screen and a sensor to identify cart items. During the exit from the store, sensors automatically identify the cart value, and the payment reflects on your card linked to your Amazon account.

An image showing how the dash cart lets users skip checkout and walk out shopping.

3. Tesco​​

Tesco analyzes the loyalty card transactions of its customers to share personalized offers to ensure its customers keep coming for more. An online retailer can similarly analyze the past purchases of their valuable customers to send relevant discounts and deals to their inboxes.

5 tips to level up your customer service in retail

As much as you would like to keep all your customers happy, you can still find yourself in a tough spot while providing a memorable customer experience. Here are five best retail customer service tips to keep you on track.

1. Establish standard operating procedures

Prepare an incident management strategy to exercise better control. Establish a standard escalation protocol to guide your agents in situations which demand managerial intervention or expert assistance.

Here are a few ways to steer clear of such situations:

  • Train your agents to handle challenging situations and demanding customers with patience and empathy.

  • Empower your live agents to initiate small returns or refunds if required.

  • Keep your customers informed if situations are beyond your control. For example, if heavy rainfall impacts your delivery timelines, inform them proactively instead of apologizing after they reach out for support.

  • Practice clear and transparent communication. Deliver on your promises to maintain customer trust.

2. Offer proactive customer care

Proactive customer outreach keeps you ahead of your customer. Implementing an AI-powered social listening solution will make it easy for your team to know when customers discuss your brand or products across digital and social channels in real-time, even when your brand isn’t @mentioned in the conversation.

Using AI with customer insights will help you identify potential issues before they cause a problem. Sprinklr Service enables you to send automated messages to your customers by detecting dissatisfaction at any point in their purchase journey.

Here’s a glimpse of Sprinklr in action:

An image showing how Sprinklr automates the delivery communication process.

3. Make self-service a priority

Gartner suggests that resolutions via live interactions are time-consuming and cost businesses 80 to 100 times more than a self-service fix. You can listen more closely to your customers with a customer service solution and provide effective self-service options, thereby reducing the number of support tickets.

Self-service for retail customers can take the following forms:

  • Knowledge base
    A self-serving knowledge base enables customers to search for information like hours of business, delivery zones, sustainability initiatives or shipping and returns policies.

  • Guided shopping
    Step-by-step guided workflows simplify the purchase process by helping customers choose specific products and adding them to their cart.

    An image showing multiple self-serve options for customer service.

  • Virtual shopping assistants (conversational AI bots)
    Based on a customer's questions, a virtual shopping assistant can respond with store finders, product availability, product recommendations, order status, refund status and more.

  • Virtual consultation bookings
    Customers can book a slot to chat with a product expert or designer at their convenience using virtual consultation.

How to craft a winning customer service strategy using self serve

4. Augment your agents’ efficiency

Treat your employees as your first customers as employee satisfaction directly impacts your customer's satisfaction.

Implementation of contact center AI will enable your agents to focus on complex queries, handle tough conversations better, and provide more thoughtful solutions to your customers.

Here are a few ways agent augmentation can improve retail customer service:

  • Connect with an expert
    Route customers to the best-qualified product expert or support agent based on past interactions and the customer’s intent, mood, geographic location, and other available data.

  • Seamless channel switching
    Enable agents to switch between channels (e.g., from X, formerly Twitter to X, formerly Twitter DMs) without creating separate tickets — making it easy for them to maintain a single conversation thread in the agent desktop.

  • 360° shopper view
    360° view of a customer shows the entire customer profile and history to the agents. Agents can drive the conversation efficiently by talking about specific customer concerns.

  • Virtual consultation
    Customers can book a slot to chat with a product expert or designer at their convenience using virtual consultation.

    An image showing how Sprinklr uses a 360° customer view and guided scripts to improve agents' efficiency.

5. Optimize your customer service for an improved experience

Actionable reporting and access to robust customer insights are critical parts of any good retail customer service software solution. By regularly reviewing and responding to the insights on the surface, your organization can create a more efficient environment for agents, and provide increasingly personalized and delightful experiences to customers.

The best customer service solutions will make it easy to:

  • Unify reporting
    Your agents can monitor and report on channel performance, inbound messages, case volume, agent performance, CSAT, SLAs and more.

  • Identify recurring customer issues
    Leverage AI-powered insights to learn why your customers are contacting you, and resolve recurring issues at scale — helping to reduce service volumes and contact center costs.

  • Uncover actionable care insights
    Use AI to analyze voice call recordings, and discover in-depth customer insights to go the extra mile to make your customer’s day.

Sprinklr Service makes it easy for retailers like Samsung and Cdiscount to proactively engage with customers across touchpoints when it matters the most.

Discover how our unified contact center as a service (CCaaS) solution makes it easy to listen to and understand retail and e-commerce customers, and filter out the noise — routing all engageable and relevant conversations to the right agent and teams.

Start your free trial of Sprinklr Service

Find out how Sprinklr helps businesses deliver a premium experience on 13+ channels, using foundational AI so you can listen, route, resolve and measure — across the customer experience.

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