Responsiveness and customer service can lead companies to excel after the global pandemic. My former background was in quality assurance. One conference I went to talked about customer service. I was super impressed with a story about a well-known, high-end store that operates out of large, affluent malls.
A customer tried on several pairs of shoes and wanted a specific brand and size. The store did not have it. The assistant asked the gentlemen if he was going to continue shopping in the mall. The guy said he was. The assistant asked if he could come back in an hour, that she might have the right size and brand. He told her he would.
An hour later, the guy shows up and the assistant has the right brand and size. He tries them on and is satisfied. He asked what happened at that hour. She told him that the store policy was to satisfy a customer – no ifs, and, or buts – satisfaction was number one.
She knew there were three shoe stores in that mall. She called and the first one had the size and brand. She told that store she would be there in ten minutes to buy them. She took the required money out of the cash register, walked to the shoe store, paid for the shoes, and returned to her store. She took cash out to satisfy a customer’s request. Her receipt for the shoes covered the cash withdrawal.
I have always been enamored with that story. Stories SELL! We remember them. This past week I was watching several TED Talks. Gary Vaynerchuk talked about his successes on a few. A story that stood out was when he was working in his father’s wine store on the 23rd of December, the busiest day of the year for a wine merchant.
A customer called and did not get an order. The order was under $50. He drove two-and-a-half hours and personally deliver a replacement box of wine. He returned and his father was a bit upset that he took that much time with many other pressing and important things going on that day. The story of satisfying a customer’s need on the eve of Christmas Eve became the prime example of their store’s customer service. The store grew from $3,000,000 a year to over $50,000,000 a year in sales.
I am sure most of us have stories of good service and bad. I spent two hours and 48 minutes on the phone with a bank in the first week of quarantine. Most of the time I listened to background music. I talked to two people at the bank and was left on hold forever.
I was unhappy but could do little other than to concentrate on not stressing out. My problem was solved nearly three hours later, but I needed to wait two days to verify it. I was able to work on other things while the phone played music in the background. I still consider it unsatisfactory. Would another bank have done the same thing? I do not know.
Yesterday, I was at a local pool supply store. There was a sign telling everyone their water testing equipment was not working properly. I asked if my water could be tested in an old-fashioned way. He did not know what I was referring to. I pointed to the containers of test strips that provide the same information that the more automated equipment provided. He told me that management wanted the new equipment used, even though it was broken.
I asked if anyone suggested to management that it was easy to satisfy a customer’s requirement with the products the store had for sale. They used test strips for years. Why not now? I got the impression that I was talking to a dead horse.
I have been to several hamburger food chains and when they run out of onions (or some other commodity) they are not allowed to walk across the parking lot and buy what they are lacking. Customers are denied the full taste of a burger because corporate will not allow options at the local level. This has happened at three different burger chains.
I have changed my buying habits in less than 30 days. I rarely buy anything over the Internet and have it delivered to my home. It is not in my DNA. My granddaughter, on the other hand, orders everything via her computer or cell phone.
My pool pump motor broke a couple of weeks ago. I took the pump/motor assembly to the local pool place for an estimated repair. I was quoted just under a thousand dollars. I can remember buying it several years ago for under $500. I was being pushed to buy a variable-speed motor to save on electricity. I was told that constant-speed motors were being phased out and would not be manufactured in two years. The $1600 variable-speed motor could be had for $999 if I acted quickly. A constant-speed motor was $700.
I shopped on-line and found numerous pump/motor combinations for well under $300. My purchase arrived today. I have ordered five other high-priced items on-line and they have all arrived, regardless of my house arrest status. One arrived the very next day!
I find myself asking about checking the Internet before I buy something from a store. Is this practice
going to be a vogue for more people? I think so. If great customer service (price, availability, delivery time, return policy, etc.) is offered, it will drive those less willing to react or accommodate a customer’s needs.
When I order something and it is wrong, I tell someone about it. They cannot improve their quality if they do not know about it. Some companies take it to heart and make changes to be better. Others do not. Responsiveness will dominate in the future. Why would I (or you) return to a store (online or local brick and mortar) if our needs are not met and we can find the same thing elsewhere where the consumer is appreciated?
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – https://RedOLaughlin.com