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Customer service has been running cold since the pandemic

Customer service has been running cold since the pandemic

However, the majority of consumers surveyed consider the level of service received in stores unchanged, and just over 1 in 10 respondents found it to have improved.

In hardware stores and in fashion and everyday goods stores, the service has deteriorated the most. according to CQCDOne of the factors that would explain the decline felt by these consumers would be labor shortages.


The survey was conducted from 4 to 10 April 2023 on a sample of 1,019 respondents. Since this is a non-probability survey, the margin of error does not apply.

This conclusion was confirmed by Benoit Duguay, professor at the Faculty of Management Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). Understaffing and underqualification: both are important. People arrive at the store, they are not well supervised and may go to find a place to pay because there is only one place openhe argues.

These are the two shortcomings that are noted most often in non-probabilistic surveying. Difficulty getting help and advisors’ lack of product knowledge topped the list at almost 60%.

Personnel knowledge and training are more important in certain sectors. Training an employee to work in a hardware store can take anywhere from two to five years. People come here to ask for advice. We need to know about 12,000 different products; People don’t want us to read labels, they want us to know them by heartsays Eric Paquet, owner of Quincaillerie Corriveau.

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Make customer service more interesting

According to Eric Paquet, keeping employees in training is itself a hurdle. This is a very difficult area. I have an employee who came back about 2 weeks ago and said the number of calls we had per day didn’t make senseHe said.

According to a survey, 28% of respondents believe customer service has deteriorated since the pandemic in hardware stores.

Photo: Radio Canada/Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc

Some merchants plead to close on Sunday to give their employees a day off.

Other companies adapt the roles of their employees to their strengths. staff so experienced, I no longer wanted to see them unloading trucks and watering stations; I just want to see them respond to customers. There are a lot of tasks that they no longer have the right to doexplains Jean-Paul Daoust, co-owner of Floralies Jouvence.

Jean-Paul Daoust in Passages of Flowers and Plants.

Jean-Paul Daoust, co-owner of Floralies Jouvence, in the corridors of his work.

Photo: Radio Canada/Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc

Professor Benoit Duguay points out that employers should use more and more creativity to make customer service-related jobs more interesting. If we cannot satisfy people financially with the wages they demand, then we have to find other ways, such as accommodation in terms of schedules, providing gyms or coffee shops… We offer additional benefits that attract people.he argues.

The golden age of e-commerce

To circumvent the deterioration of customer service, a study CQCD It indicates that 33% of respondents say they do their own research online before going to the store and 26% of them say they shop online a lot.

According to Benoit Duguay, young people are more likely to adopt these practices.

However, he does not believe that e-commerce is a panacea. Consumption is above all pleasure. There’s not much fun in sitting at your computer, making three mouse clicks and entering your credit card numbersays prof.

According to him, human contact in a store can never be completely replaced. There are still people who go to the store and don’t buy that day, and that’s part of the fun of shopping. This requires people to be in the storeBenoit Duguay adds.

In collaboration with Pierre Alexandre Bolduc