Over a third of consumers leave stores if shop assistants fail to return to them in 3 minutes

UK consumers are losing patience with outdated shop floor customer service, according to new research, which found that 38 per cent of consumers will leave a shop if they have waited less than three minutes for an assistant to return from a stock enquiry.

The study, released by retail experience company Red Ant and Imperial College, questioned 2,000 UK consumers about their shopping experience satisfaction.

Product knowledge not being up to scratch was a bug bear for many consumers – 37 per cent voted this as the most annoying trait of sales staff, with more than one in five choosing to answer their in-store questions on their personal smartphones rather than asking a sales assistant.

Technology was referenced throughout the findings as a source for improving customer service – one in three (34 per cent) said assistants should be armed with tablets.

E-commerce continues to make strides as 43 per cent of respondents said in-store experiences are failing to keep up with the times compared to intuitive online shopping opportunities.

As part of the Shopper Satisfaction Study, Red Ant used data from Imperial College’s Employee Mobile Technology In The Retail Industry study, to better understand retailers’ opinions on the growing use of employee-facing mobile technology on the shop floor.

Based on interviews with corporate executives from 17 high street retail brands, the report revealed there is still a level of cautiousness that stems from a lack of education. Examples include “vague knowledge of the functionalities” and “how such systems could add value to their business”, but many revealed curiosity about mobile solutions.

Dan Mortimer, chief exeuctive of Red Ant, said that it’s clear the service experience on many of the UK’s high streets is failing to meet consumer expectations.

“Online commerce has evolved and improved significantly over the last five years, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that in-store retail is starting to feel a bit underwhelming in comparison. Progressive retailers should be looking at ways that they can take the best of ecommerce, integrate it into in-store environments, and use it effectively to improve the customer experience.”

One leading women’s underwear retailer, and early adopter of employee-facing mobile technology, reported staff initially using their tablets as a “shield” and highlighted the importance of an “in-depth on-boarding program”.

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