Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 12

RCC: GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY

TO HELP CELEBRATE Retail Council of Canada’s 50th anniversary, Canadian Retailer presents a six-part series that takes a look back at the ways the industry has evolved over the
past half-century. Through the lens of advertising and marketing, supply chain logistics, and
more, we examine the historical points of evolution as well as identifying what the future
might have in store for the industry. Part two of the series focuses on the retail associate,
the customer, and the advances that have influenced their evolving relationship.

CUSTOMER SERVICE
OVER THE YEARS
Retail, the premier service industry, has seen customer service evolve with
changing customers and a changing nation over the last 50 years. Retail
associates have had to learn a broader range of skills to service customers
who are more knowledgeable than at any other time.
IN SOME WAYS, the quality of customer ser-

vice in today’s stores mirrors the kind of personalized service customers received generations ago, when the milkman delivered milk to
the house, and customers were neighbours.
The renaissance at work in today’s customer
service is driven by demand—customers want
superior service, and retail associates deliver.
“Customer service is the pressure point right
now,” says Kevin Graff, a retail consultant. “Retail in Canada is better than it ever has been.”
Adapting to the environment

A lifetime ago, Canadian retail existed in
the communities—the corner store, the main
street shop. With the creation of suburban
Canada came malls and shopping centres.
Customer service adapted to the new environment, with retail associates serving higher
volumes of customers inside a single building
with other retailers.
Service grew less personal but more efficient in the mall. This trend toward efficiency continued with the arrival of the big
box store. “High touch” customer service
wasn’t what customers wanted—they wanted
selection, low prices and efficiency—and retailers delivered by moving retail associates
off the floor and behind the cash and mobilizing them to make the shopping experience
seamlessly efficient.
When online shopping and social media
gave retailers more ways to engage consumers, customer service morphed again. Online
shopping and sophisticated data collection
helped retailers to develop detailed profiles of
customers. Personalized service was back.

12 |

canadian retailer | spring 2013 | www.retailcouncil.org/cdnretailer

Days of milk gone by
Fifty years ago and more, retailers knew customers on
a first-name basis. Customer service was personal. The
milkman even delivered milk to the home.

Making the mall
Customer service changed significantly when retailers
moved to the mall. The mall put retailers in a single
place—a revolution in customer service—and made the
store a destination. Generating traffic suddenly wasn’t
an issue. However, retail presence in mall suddenly put a
lot more emphasis on converting that traffic into sales.

Another way to pay
With the emergence of the credit card, customers came
to expect a different service at the cash. They wanted
choice at the cash register—the choice to pay with cash,
cheque or credit, whichever type of credit they chose.
This revelation in the industry later allowed retailers to
gather customer information and cater their marketing
and advertising to their clientele.

Big box service
Customers liked their malls, but in the 1990s, they
loved the environment and service of the big box store.
Retailers responded with ever bigger boxes and big box
service—larger selection and cheaper prices.

U.S. competition brings variety of service
Canadian shoppers got to experience a different vision
of retailing when U.S. rival retailers crossed the border
into Canada. With U.S. retailers championing new
retail technologies, larger stores and a renewed focus
on customer satisfaction, Canadian retailers raced to
integrate a U.S. style of retail and customer service into
their operations.


http://www.retailcouncil.org/cdnretailer

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013

PUBLISHER’S DESK
RETAIL CURRENTS
EAT WELL CAMPAIGN TO EDUCATE FAMILIES ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING
THE EVOLUTION OF CUSTOMER SERVICE
THE TARGET IMPACT
THE RISKS OF NEGLECTING THE IN-STORE EXPERIENCE
MENTORING TOMORROW’S TALENT
RECRUITING TOP TALENT FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
UNPACKING SHOWROOMING
SUPPLEMENTING FOR SUCCESS IN THE CANADIAN MARKET
ADVERTISER'S INDEX
RETAIL QUICK TIPS
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - ebelly1
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - ebelly2
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - cover1
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - cover2
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 3
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - PUBLISHER’S DESK
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 5
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - RETAIL CURRENTS
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 7
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 8
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 9
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - EAT WELL CAMPAIGN TO EDUCATE FAMILIES ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 11
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - THE EVOLUTION OF CUSTOMER SERVICE
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 13
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 14
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 15
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - THE TARGET IMPACT
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 17
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 18
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 19
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 20
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 21
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - THE RISKS OF NEGLECTING THE IN-STORE EXPERIENCE
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 23
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 24
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 25
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 26
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - MENTORING TOMORROW’S TALENT
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 28
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 29
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 30
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 31
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - RECRUITING TOP TALENT FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 33
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 34
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 35
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - UNPACKING SHOWROOMING
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 37
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 38
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 39
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - SUPPLEMENTING FOR SUCCESS IN THE CANADIAN MARKET
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 41
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 42
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 43
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 44
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - ADVERTISER'S INDEX
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - RETAIL QUICK TIPS
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 47
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 48
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 49
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2013 - 50
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