5 April 2018

by Steve Hanrahan, Business Development Manager, AURES UK

Customer service has become one of the main competitive battlegrounds in retail. Particularly in mature, crowded markets where there is little scope for establishing points of difference in products or prices, keeping customers happy is an essential means of standing out from the competition and retaining custom.

More and more retailers are turning to clienteling as a formal technique for delivering outstanding customer service. Clienteling aims to deliver a high quality personalised service based on in-depth customer knowledge. Customer data is made available to sales staff when handling a query or at point of sale so they can advise, recommend cross and up-sell based on the individual’s tastes and purchasing habits.

Clienteling therefore depends on technology. It is most commonly associated with software solutions which enable the capture, interpretation and delivery of customer data, such as CRM applications and integrated EPOS platforms.

But software cannot run in isolation. It needs hardware, and choice of equipment can play a key role in how successfully retailers implement a clienteling strategy in store.

Here are some of the ways that POS hardware can help deliver that outstanding customer experience.

All-in-one POS terminals

The purpose of linking CRM with EPOS applications is to make customer data available where it is needed most – at the point of contact with customers in store. CRM software tends to be pretty sophisticated, so you need a computing terminal with an appropriate amount of processing power.

While you could run CRM on a standalone PC, this just adds to the amount of equipment – and clutter you need in store. An all-in-one POS terminal combining CPU, screen and transaction processing capabilities means you have everything in one place, mirroring the convenience of integrating CRM with your EPOS system. Simply by asking a customer’s name or scanning a loyalty card as a sale is processed, staff can view purchasing histories and get recommendations for cross and up-selling, or even offer discounts and special promotions.

Mobile tablets

For many retailers, there is little distinction between sales and service. Staff are trained not simply to process sales, but to make themselves available to answer queries from customers, offer assistance and advice, and use their knowledge and skills to convert interest into a purchase.

To be able to adopt a true clienteling approach, customer data should be available where and when the customer requires assistance. Rather than only being accessible at a fixed point in store, dedicated POS tablets allow staff to take the intelligence with them to help customers around the store. Tablets can also be used effectively to do things like look up stock levels on the spot, or show alternatives on screen to the customer.

Display screens

Screens need not be confined to being used by staff as they process sales. Using customer-facing screens around a store and at the sales desk is a great marketing resource for displaying current offers, but they can also be used to inform and advise customers, for example to show accessory suggestions or currency conversions.

Another increasingly common trend is to provide touchscreens in store for customers to use to look up stock levels or product alternatives themselves. Providing a self-service option to complement staff is popular with many customers, helping to cover all bases in meeting their preferences.