The holiday shopping season is the opportunity for retailers to make up for slower sales in previous months. However, because economists predicted a slower holiday season due to rising energy costs and discount competitors, savvy retailers have increased their focus on providing higher levels of customer service. According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Kronos(R) Incorporated, customer service is the deciding factor when it comes to shoppers increasing or decreasing their holiday shopping budget.

The survey found that 85% of respondents said they were somewhat to very likely to purchase additional products if they had interaction with a knowledgeable sales associate. For example, if a consumer is shopping for a digital camera, if a knowledgeable sales associate is available to answer questions or offer advice on accessories for the digital camera, the consumer is more likely to spend more than if they were not offered, or unable to find, help.

The survey also found that if shopping conditions are not optimal, consumers will return goods to the shelf. An overwhelming 82% of consumers will only wait in line for less than 15 minutes. Additionally, 45% said that they shop for themselves during the holiday season, giving retailers another incentive to ensure that they are catering to the service needs of their customers.

Recognizing that their workforce is more than just their largest controllable expense, leading retailers are leveraging their workforce as a strategic asset to keep consumers happy this holiday season.

“Because this survey gives retailers a glimpse into the consumer psyche during the holiday shopping season, they can work to ensure they are focused on the factors that most contribute to increased spending and customer loyalty,” said Stuart Itkin, vice president of marketing at Kronos. “It also sheds light on the fact that even with external factors like rising energy costs and discount competitors, retailers can still have a profitable holiday season by focusing on effectively and efficiently managing their workforce to meet customer demand.”