Customer service is at the heart of all retail activities and yet has been identified as an area where there are skills gaps in the sector. For customer service to be good enough to make a difference it has to be uniformly excellent, knowledge, practice and experience are needed to achieve this. Many people who choose retail as a career do so because they enjoy dealing with people and this provides an excellent starting point. To achieve excellent customer service,employees need a good understanding of the wide range of customer needs, a positive and consistent approach to delivering service and an understanding of the consequences of their individual actions.
Customer service requires high-level speaking and listening skills and these will need to be taught carefully. All learners will need to develop an understanding of body language and its appropriate use. It will also be useful for learners to consider different cultural conventions that apply to visitors from abroad and a range of cultural groups within the country.
The purpose of retail is to sell things. The range and diversity of products and services offered is now huge and is changing rapidly, and the competition between businesses to sell is also increasing. Learners in the retail setting need to keep their product knowledge up-to-date and must be able to advise customers with confidence. They also need to deal with customers at the point of sale professionally and efficiently, receive payments in different forms and give good counter service in a range of settings.