What in the world is going on with retail today?
Restoration Hardware sent me some wall sconces with a glass piece missing — a main part of the fixture just wasn’t included.
The owner of a local wallpaper store didn’t bother to return my call — I had wanted to purchase wallpaper I saw on their Web site.
I had to return products to a high-end retailer selling top-name appliances and fixtures because the finishes weren’t up to par. My phone calls and e-mails have gone unanswered.
Furniture with a 45-day delivery that was promoted in-store from Williams-Sonoma Home has now taken over 90 days to reach me, and it’s still not here; and the customer service experience couldn’t have been less customer-focused.
A local beauty store was going to get my shampoo from another location then call me. They didn’t and this is the second time it’s happened.
Are retailers too busy to keep the people who keep them in business satisfied?
Or do they just not have any information to communicate, so they don’t communicate?
Regardless of the particular context, a customer, a client, a prospect has reached out. Customer Service 101 dictates that the business respond. And in a timely manner, even if it’s just to communicate that you don’t have anything to communicate.
It’s no wonder that online and television retailers are holding many of the top spots in a recent customer service survey of major retailers.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Bad customer service leads to a decrease in sales.
The outcome from the examples above:
- Third time’s a charm for the sconce from Restoration Hardware. That’s right. It took three times to get it right and I received free shipping out of it. Big deal. Won’t go there anytime soon.
- The wallpaper store. The place came up in conversation last week where I shared my story of non-communication, leading to the spread of negativity surrounding the store.
- The fixture store was resolved because I walked in with the stuff, spoke to the manager, helped them understand my issue and demanded they take the merchandise back. They did. But they’ve lost a customer.
- The furniture from Williams-Sonoma Home? Well, they’re still working on it and I’ve taken my business elsewhere, robbing the store of sales.
- And ditto with the beauty store.
You can only have too may bad experiences, and waste too much time before you stop beating your head against the wall and say, “Ouch, that hurts.”
And now, with customer generated review Web sites like Yelp, those negative experiences are going to be transmitted to the world the minute they happen. Sure you can manage them, but isn’t it better to have a great experience so you don’t have to waste time managing your online reputation?
As a small business and independent retailer, you need to make customer service is your number one priority, or risk having your customers flock to online and television retailers for their customer service. Or worse yet, write negative reviews online that could stifle your business and even cause it to fail.