Retail Detail. Business 101: Good Customer Service is Paramount. Second City Style Fashion Blog

Fountain of 30

April 16, 2007 • Shopping


What do you do when you experience bad (or non-existent) customer service? Do you tell your friends, start a website dedicated to destroying them or do you do what most of us do – take your money elsewhere?

With the Internet giving consumers unlimited spending choices, customer service matters more than ever, according to an article in The Bakersfield Californian.

"We find there is a very sizeable relationship between the satisfaction of the customer and future spending habits," said Claes Fornell, a professor of marketing and the director of the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan’s Ross Business School.

Here are some survey results to back this up…

Nearly half of shoppers said they avoided certain stores after a bad experience, according to a survey released last year by a group within the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

And disgruntled shoppers talk. They will tell an average of four people about poor customer service, according to the survey, which interviewed more than 1,000 shoppers.

The most common complaints were a lack of convenient parking and having to wait to pay or be served. Other complaints included having a difficult time finding items in a cluttered store and rude or unhelpful employees.

Shopper Sue Gaskill gets especially frustrated when store employees are "waiting on you and there’s a couple of them behind the cash register and they’re talking to each other instead of ringing you up."

Bad service is part of the reason Peggy Goss has started shopping online more. In one instance, she ordered blinds from a national home improvement store, got the wrong blinds delivered to the wrong place and when she tried to sort it out with a manager, she was told her order "will come when it comes." She tried to call corporate headquarters, but never received a call back.

"Some stores don’t care if a customer comes back," Goss said. "They think it’s only one customer."

That’s a big mistake, said Jeff Harris, who started a Web site in 1999 to let others know about a dispute he had with a major hotel chain, which he claimed quadrupled the price of a stay in Paris after he booked it.

"(Companies) need to realize it is not just one person. It is all the people they will interact with and all the people those people will interact with," said Harris, who started after his ordeal. He charges $5 to post complaints then e-mails the company every time someone views the complaint about them and links the complaints to online search engines.

Here is something surprising, despite all the warnings, a recent poll of 309 executives at companies in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa found 81% did not know how much business customer complaints were costing them.

Additionally, customers are more apt to tell others about negative shopping experiences than positive ones, said Kathy Mance, the vice president of the NRF Foundation, the research and education arm of the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation trade group. But positive experiences do help, some retailers have figured out that if they go that extra mile, that once disappointed cutomer could be their best advocate.

Word of mouth is crucial. A retailer can advertise until the cows come home, but if your company is perceived as having bad customer service, your money on advertising has been wasted. It’s easier to serve existing customers than to constantly have to find new ones.

Source: The Bakersfield Californian

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