I went to a well-known furniture store at the weekend and bought a wardrobe for my daughter’s bedroom. They designed it for me there and then we agreed the price and the deal was done.
Great I thought… this couldn’t be easier.
However, arranging delivery and assembly wasn’t quite so simple. The queue was long and painfully slow. When I finally got to the booking desk I told the delivery person that as I didn’t have my diary with me I may have to call to rearrange any appointment we might make.
I soon wished I hadn’t bothered… delivery was going to take ages and the journey to delivery was peppered with a range of problems.
Could I arrange for a Saturday? Sorry, they were all full for at least 6 weeks and they “don’t do EH10 post codes on Saturdays”.
What about a Sunday? “Well, it’ll be about 8 weeks from now!”
What about a Monday? “Yes, well we can do that in two weeks’ time, but it’s an all day appointment.”
What if I needed to change? “Well you might find delivery is delayed for at least another month.”
So, what had begun as a positive customer experience ended up in frustration and irritation. The problem was that this was all tailored to their convenience and not mine – surely a large company like that could do better?
Being great at customer service is an easy way to differentiate you from the large chains. By managing the way your customers feel about you, keeping them sweet and ensuring you more than meet their expectations. Then they’ll come back and buy again.
My father ran a very successful retail business in Leven, Fife for 43 years doing just that. If a customer wanted their appliance fitted at 7am in the morning then that’s what happened. His delivery team always had extra daily capacity and it didn’t matter where you lived, if you bought a new TV you could probably have it installed by close of play that day. He loved it when he could tell the customer that the delivery team would be waiting for them by the time they got home. That’s why people came from all over Scotland to buy their electrical appliances from him – because he made things happen quickly.
So, is your business good at customer service?
- When is the last time you got customer service that blew you away?
- What was it that made that experience fantastic?
- Are you consciously focusing on service in your business?
- Do you have someone responsible for managing customer service in your business?
You should be aware though, that great customer service does not mean over-servicing your customers and giving them something for nothing.
I recently worked with a client that literally gave all their value away by under-pricing their product and then bending over backwards to meet all their customers’ demands. The customer just had to click their finger and my client was all over them like a rash. Not surprisingly when we looked at the numbers the business was haemorrhaging profit.
In my work as a business coach I spend a lot of my time working with businesses large and small, helping them do things better. So often though, customer service is sitting at the end of the line of priorities rather than the other way around. How many times do we hear the over used expression, “Customer is King,” yet can name several large companies that fail abysmally to practise what they preach?
I believe it’s actually quite easy; it’s just about understanding what your customers want and delivering it. In the wardrobe example the shop got the first bit spot on. I knew there was a delivery and installation cost and was happy to pay. They completely failed to manage my expectations that the speed designing the product equally applied to the physical delivery and installation of it.
Customers demand clarity and expect you to do what it says on the tin. They don’t mind paying extra as long as you deliver what you promise. If there is a premium for same day delivery then don’t be frightened to offer it. However, be really clear what is part of the package and what is not.
Ultimately it’s all about managing customer expectations. I see companies frightened to charge for delivery or follow up for fear of losing the sale. Then they complain that profits are down. So stop the recessionary behaviour, charge a fair price and be honest with your customers while delivering what you have promised.
As a result your service will start to differentiate you and you’ll make more money.
Business strategy expert Gaynor McIntyre has over 20 years of consultancy and business coaching experience. To discuss your business needs and goals and how our Strategic Planning service can help you call us on 01383 721421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.