Pay attention to customer service

Measuring customer satisfaction is a task that can either be a huge WIN or can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Now, I’m a bit of an optimist—I believe that stores and their staff go above and beyond for their customers. Well, I used to believe this.

You see, last week we had to buy new equipment for the business, replace some large ticket items. We needed them urgently as the equipment gets used everyday and if it isn’t working, we can’t earn.

So I rang a local company who we knew would have them and they said, “Yes, sure, no problem. We can have them in the store in two days’ time.”

To which I said, “Fantastic!” Then I paid and was feeling good in the relief that the problem would be remedied soon.

Two days later it got to lunch time and no phone call to tell us they had arrived so I decided to call to find out what happened.

“Oh yeah, I heard yesterday that they won’t be in until the end of October,” the store employee offhandedly told me. No concern in their voice, just a sort of “whatever” attitude.

“I’m sorry? You found out yesterday and didn’t think to let us know?” I feel that burning anger slowly rising.  “I did tell you these are needed urgently.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. I got busy.”

I breathe in. I mean, he is going to help fix it—right? “Ok, so did you ring around and find out if any of your other stores have them?”

“Uh, no….”

“Ok….” I am starting to see red.  “So can you find out if there are any in Auckland, like we asked you to on Monday? These are needed urgently.”

“Everywhere is sold out. You will have to wait until October.”

“So everyone is sold out on an item you told me you could get in two days?”

He laughs. “Well computers make mistakes.”

I needed these items urgently. What was I going to do?

I sat at my desk thinking this can’t be right. There is no way all of Auckland is sold out of this item.  Surely there wasn’t a sudden influx of people wanting them…. So I jumped on Google. (Seriously, where would we be without you Google?) And I did a search on the item specific to Auckland. And blow me down—a sister store pops up and tells me they have two in stock.

I call them…and talk to the owner of the store and tell him the situation and he jumps up, runs to his store room, and confirms for me right then and there that he has two and he is looking right at them.

The sister store…has two.

So at this point in the story, I am sure you are thinking that these stores would work in concert with each other and it would be as simple as getting this store to send out the items to me and then they can work with the other to transfer my already made payment, right? BUT NO.

What actually happens is I spend the next hour paying for the items again so I can actually get them when I need them, and then we had to go to the original store to get reimbursed because they couldn’t refund our money over the phone—EVEN though they took our money over the phone

So the question you are now asking is “What does this have to do with customer satisfaction?”

I will tell you: Each customer who walks through your door (or deals with you on the phone or live chats online) has a dollar value. It isn’t the amount of the item that they purchase on that first visit—it is the amount they could spend over the year. Don’t be short-sighted. You might think they only spent $25 so they aren’t worth your time or worry. But what if you looked at the big picture and could see that they could potentially spend $25 every fortnight? They could be worth up to $650 in the year. So doesn’t their satisfaction on that first visit matter even more? Doesn’t retention of their business, ensuring they return, add up to enough to be concerned about each experience they have?

Each person has the potential to come back and spend more. So being 100 percent on your customer service helps you ensure customer retention.

Now, in knowing that, do you think I was treated as a valuable, retainable customer in this exchange with them? Should or would I want to go back to the first store? I should clarify, this store is my local and I purchase from it about every six weeks averaging around $100 – $400 each time.

Or do you think after my experience I would gladly spend the extra 20 minutes in the car to travel to another store?

That’s right—the latter. If the sales guy had spent a few minutes empathizing with me then helping me sort out the issue to get a solution to my problem, not only would I sing his praises everywhere but I would continue to be a loyal customer.

Instead, he made me feel like I was annoying him, despite the fact I wanted to spent $1500 with him. He didn’t care that I needed these items. And he was in no hurry to help.

In comparison, the second store (which is 40 km away) bent over backwards to help me. The customer service rep there took the time to listen to me and my concerns, and even gave me some valuable advice on what equipment we needed to keep the machine working longer (value added service). His listening allowed him to understand and take away our “pain point” and solve our problem. In turn, any big item we need to purchase in the future we will be going to him. Location doesn’t matter.

What can you take away from my experience? Customer service is something you have to do and do well. You have to bend over backwards to help and ease your customers’ pain points. And if they are in a situation that affects their ability to do business, it is crucial that you help solve it. Or they won’t be back. (And we all know the saying,  that a bad customer experience will tell many others. )


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