Customer service feedbackThis was the question posed on one of the Linkedin groups I’m a member of and caused quite a conversation between me and my husband over our Sunday lunch.

My first, and not considered thought, was ‘nothing it’s all going online’

Then I wondered whether shops could get people back into our town centres by improving their customer service.  Could they tempt us out of our comfy chairs, from behind our computer screens, if we knew we would be treated right?

I’m not sure…..

You see I do most of my shopping online and I can’t see that really changing.  At almost 50 I am possibly the first generation who had computers in school and at my first place of work.  The point being that every following generation is more computer savvy and therefore more likely to do everything online than the generation before.

There is also the issue of cost.  The cost of a domain name and webhosting are small.  Even if a retailer needed a complicated shopping cart on their website maybe costing £1000 per month, the combined cost of these plus warehousing, which they probably already have to service their shops, is still a fraction of the cost of high street rent and rates, lighting and heating, staff costs and shoplifting.

So could local councils and landlords do more to ensure our high streets are not full of empty units?  In my local town, the council took 30 years to redevelop the town centre (don’t ask) and then what did they finally agree on?  A supermarket surrounded by lots of empty retail units because no-one can afford the rents.  Inspired!

I accept that I am unusual amongst women in that I never spend whole days out shopping, but the fact that lots of women do could be the saving grace and indeed the changing face of our high streets.  All those things that can be purchased online that we do not need to touch or try on e.g. books, dvds, cameras, electrical goods etc etc will disappear from the high street leaving us with mostly clothes,shoe,coffee and cake shops.
However, individual shops, offering excellent customer service may just survive as we shop for the something that is a bit different for a loved one or for ourselves.

But they must offer excellent customer service to tempt me.

I have such a shop close to me. An individual  shoe shop.  The lady there is extrememly friendly and will go out of her way to ensure that my shopping experience is a good one and I go back even though parking is tricky.

Compare that to a well known supermarket who are supposed to be stocking the Comic Relief Bake Off leaflet and when I asked one of the so-called customer service assistants did she know when it would be in, she answered ‘No’ and walked off.  Hummph! This left me wondering could I do those extra bits of food shopping not covered by my online shop somewhere else.
In contrast, I purchased a shredder last summer which now needs repair or replacement, from their main competitor. Their online advice says anything over six months and you’re on your own matey.  But, never one to give up that easy, I emailed them.  Result!  They are replacing it, free of charge, and even taking away the broken one.  Top marks to them.

I believe there is definitely something we can learn from this about customer service in our own businesses which will enable us to survive and thrive.

With so much choice, we will start making more buying decisions based on the quality of service we receive and as is our nature we will discuss this with our families and friends, and on social media, perhaps influencing their buying decisions.

So, think about the impact this would have on your business.

  • Do you strive to be the best you can be?
  • Do you treat your clients or customers how you would like to be treated?
  • Do you periodically ask your clients or customers for feedback on how you’ve done?
  • Are you being talked about in a positive way?

Let me know what you think in the comments below

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