Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Importance of Customer Service

I’ve posted several times about customer service (CS)… for example, here and here.

I believe good CS and good products lead to happier customers, who then purchase more and/or return to shop another day, recommend the store/site to their friends who make purchases. This in turn helps the economy and can lead to more jobs. Not only can bad CS can put a huge damper on your day because of lost time and frustration, whether the issue gets resolved or not, if you tell your friends who tell their friends, that company may lose customers and revenue over time.

The explosion of social media makes it easier to share positive or negative experiences, and any impact could be felt right away. How many comments on Facebook these days are about how many people hate the changes?

This week’s CS experiences:

Walgreens: offers walk in flu shots via assorted modes of advertising. They don't mention that you might have to wait a long time. When I got there, they said it would be a few miunutes. After around 10 minutes, they gave me a form to fill out and I paid. They didn't update me or communicate how much longer it would be. Twenty minutes after arrival, I got my shot from a very pleasant and informative pharmacist. To me, that's not what the ads promised.

Banana Republic: Went to look for khaki pants. Pleasant salesperson didn’t know if they had my size or, apparently, care to look. Fortunately I found them myself (they didn’t fit, but that’s another story). People at the register didn’t seem welcoming, and in fact seemed distant until I broke the ice with conversation. Will I go back to the store? No. Will I shop online? Maybe, because their shirts/sweaters fit well.

Trader Joe’s: Employees will actually walk with you to show you exactly where a product is, not just wave in the direction of Aisle 4. They have quality products at reasonable prices, and continue to update their offerings, with tasty dishes like the new such as the new Brussels Sprouts Sauté. And the amazing Toscano Cinnamon Cheese is back!

Ann Taylor Loft: When they didn’t have khaki pants that fit, the similarly sized salesperson told me where she bought hers. While some may gasp at her promoting the competition, her doing so made me want to shop at ATL again, because the impression I left with is that they care about customers’ satisfaction.

Customer service/sales may not be the reps’ ultimate career goal. But if they took their jobs seriously and tried to offer the best service, I’d guess everyone would be happier and sales would increase. I wonder what would happen if companies implemented these policies for even a month:
--Make a connection with each customer.
--Know your products and where they are in your store. Then because you've made that connection and know what the customer needs/wants, you can recommend options.
--Be welcoming and friendly, not bored or distant. Or snooty, as in that Pretty Woman shopping scene where Julia Roberts's character gets snubbed until Richard Gere's hands over his credit card.

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