Customer Service - Tasks

Unit 3

Customer Service

You have just been appointed as a reporter for "The Grocer" magazine. You are their regional correspondent examining retailers in the North West. Your first job for the magazine is to produce a supplement investigating the quality of customer service.

Your assignment will be presented as a magazine.

Task 1a: You need to explain what customer service is.

Task 1b:

Readers of "The Grocer" are mostly retailers - you need to explain the importance of customer service to the retail organisation, the employee and the customer. You should consider how customer service impacts on the retail organisation in terms of:

  • reputation
  • profit
  • its significance to individual employees (e.g. job satisfaction, happier working environment)
  • customers (loyalty schemes, advice and information about products, delivery, after-sales etc).

You can get some help on customer service issues by going to Customer Service in Travel and Tourism. This provides some information on how customer service applies in this industry but the principles are very similar.

Evidence for Pass 2

Explain the importance of customer service to the retail organisation, the employee and the customer.

Task 2: Investigating Customer Service

You need to select two different retailers, for example, a supermarket, a DIY chain store, a department store or an independent trader. You should consider both 'bricks and mortar' retail as well as 'clicks and pointer' retail (shopping online). You need to explain how customer service is applied by them. For example, an independent retailer selling exclusive and expensive ladies' apparel may offer a very personal one-to-one service including alterations, whereas a large multiple chain selling garden furniture through an outlet and through the Internet will be offering delivery-response service. To investigate customer service within these two outlets you will need to go "mystery shopping".

You should consider:

  • Company policies
  • Use of quality initiatives
  • Product knowledge
  • Attitude of staff and management
  • Shop floor customer liaison - how do staff respond to questions and queries - are there staff available to ask?
  • Developing customer satisfaction; developing customer loyalty; exceeding customer expectations
  • Customer relations - on and off shop floor; improving customer relations
  • Public relations - managing the flow of information between the business and the public which does not require any direct payment
  • Corporate image
  • Responding to trends
  • Face-to-face service
  • Blind service

All these need to be explained within the context of the organisation you have selected for your mystery shopping trip.

Evidence for Pass 1

Describe how customer service is applied within two types of retail organisations.

An interior of a busy store in London's Oxford Street with lots of customers

Many retail outlets can be extremely busy at certain times of the year. making sure that customer service is maintained in such a busy atmosphere represents a major challenge. Copyright: Biz/ed Images.

Task 3

While mystery shopping you need to examine how the two retailers you have selected meet the needs of their external customers. You must select two types of external customer from the list below:

  • Individuals
  • Groups
  • Families
  • Customers of different ages
  • Customers of different cultures
  • Non-English speaking customers
  • Customers with special needs

You will need to look at how the organisation meets the needs of customers in one of the following situations:

  • Deciding to purchase
  • The act of purchasing
  • Paying for goods
  • Dealing with problems
  • Returning goods
  • Handling complaints
  • Administration
  • Record keeping
  • Setting up credit contract agreements
  • Dealing with estimations or quotations
  • Arranging fittings
  • Advising
  • Demonstrating goods
  • Promoting goods and services
  • Packing and delivery
  • Communicating
  • Referring to others
  • Special orders
  • Lay-by service

Then explain how the two retailers meet their needs:

  • The extent to which the organisation meets customer needs and expectations
  • Value for money
  • Depth and width of product ranges
  • Promptness of delivery
  • Accuracy of product information
  • Appropriate levels of service
  • The range of payment options
  • The provision of facilities and services
  • After-sales service

For example, if a family with young children were to shop in Ikea they can leave their children in the play area while they did their shopping. How else does Ikea cater for families? If the family wanted to buy furniture that was not in stock what will staff at Ikea do? What happens if they want to arrange delivery? Are the goods delivered on time?

Evidence for Pass 3

Give details of the provision of customer service for two different types of external customers in a retail situation in two retail organisations

Task 4:

You need to carry out a questionnaire to compare how customer service is provided in the two retailers you have selected for a range of customers and situations - how do they differ in meeting customer needs?

Evidence for Merit 1

Compare how customer service is provided in two types of selected retail organisations.

A man standing behind a bar serving drinks

The way in which customer service is provided will vary from business to business but the fundamental principles will be very similar.

Task 5:

Using your results from Task 4 evaluate how the organisations provide service - what are their strengths and weaknesses? How significant or valuable is the service that the organisations provide? In what ways do you think they can improve the quality and level of customer service they are providing?

Evidence for Distinction 1

Evaluate how two selected retail organisations provide customer service to customers.

Task 6A:

You need to describe three pieces of legislation protecting retail customers. You need to emphasise how each act protects customers, using examples relevant to a range of retail situations. Make sure you describe the rights of customers when purchasing goods or services from a retailer.

Evidence for Pass 4

Describe, using examples, how three pieces of legislation protect customers’ rights.

Task 6B:

You need to analyse how the two retailers apply these acts to protect customers and what you believe are the appropriate rights a customer has when purchasing goods and services. Use examples to support your arguments. Do not forget that analysis is the process of breaking down a complex issue into chunks to make it easier to understand or explain.

Evidence for Merit 2

Analyse the use of three pieces of legislation in relation to protecting customers’ rights when purchasing goods and services

(You can get some help with understanding assessment objectives and command words like 'analysis' and 'evaluation' by looking at Assessment Objectives and Command Words)

Task 7:

You need to demonstrate the use of customer service skills in two retail contexts (e.g. dealing with a customer face to face who has a complaint, writing to a customer who has a query, demonstrating a product face-to-face to a group of shoppers etc.). This can take place in your part-time job or as a role play in class. You must make sure you demonstrate skills for dealing with different types of customers, who have different needs in different situations.

Evidence for this will be a witness statement by your teacher and a self review statement.

Evidence for Pass 5

Use appropriate customer service skills in two retail contexts.

A man with an angry expression on his face

Dealing with customers can be very frustrating and difficult - especially if they are angry. Special skills are needed to be able to handle such situations.

Task 8:

You need to analyse how you used customer service skills in a retail context, discussing your strengths and weaknesses.

Evidence for Merit 3

Analyse the customer service skills used in two retail contexts.

Task 9:

You need to critically evaluate how well you demonstrated effective customer service skills in a retail context and draw up recommendations for improvement.

When you are asked to 'critically evaluate' you are being asked to look at the issue (in this case how you demonstrated effective customer service skills) and reflect on what you have done. Critical evaluation implies that you do not take something at face value; that you can say something about what was good or bad about something and why it was good or bad. What gaps were there in your skills, why are those gaps there and is there something you can do to plug the gaps? Were there any assumptions that you made about providing effective customer service skills that you have now revised in the light of your experience?

Having thought carefully and reflected on your experience you should be able to use your thinking to arrive at some informed conclusions in relation to effective customer service skills.

Evidence for Distinction 2

Evaluate how customer service skills were used in two retail contexts, giving recommendations for any improvements.

This resource was written by Louise Stubbs, Assistant Headteacher at Great Sankey High School in Warrington, Cheshire.

Related lesson plan: