Start with customer service to improve marketing and sales

In the retail sector, businesses need to develop marketing and service strategies that make the most of each sales lead.

In the retail sector, businesses need to develop marketing and service strategies that make the most of each sales lead. With tightened budgets, consumers are seeking the best possible deals - a trend that is punctuated by the shopping and research benefits that smartphones and mobile devices offer.

To that end, retailers may want to first improve their customer service standards, as new research suggests U.S. consumers may be willing to pay more for quality service. Thirty-six percent of Americans would be willing to pay 10 percent more for products they know would come with excellent customer service.

Another recent study by American Express that found 70 percent of consumers were willing to pay up to 13 percent more with companies that provide good service.

"The American consumer values excellent customer service, but is not receiving it at this time," said Polaris President Jan Carlson. "If consumers are willing to pay more, businesses have no excuse to deliver less than excellent customer service."

Increasingly, businesses are leveraging mystery shopping to gauge customer service practices.