Keys to Good Customer Service (1)

This weekend I needed to purchase a new “weed wacker.” I went to my preferred lawn care specialist hoping to buy. Unsatisfied, I went to see product displays at two big hardware box stores. Each product was packed in an expensive white box with lots of graphics. How much product information was available on the packaging or from the sales staff? Very little!

There was no information except PRICE ($70-$279); power (corded electric/battery/2-cycle/4 cycle); curved or non-curved; and horsepower. I had no reason to buy any product!  I couldn’t get the information I needed to make my decision:

  • What is the country of origin?
  • What is the warranty?
  • What is the string thickness or is it some other material?
  • How is the string replaced when it breaks (bump or hand wound)?
  • Does it have 1 or 2 cutting lines?
  • Does the cordless model come with a battery charger?
  • How long will the battery stay charged in use?
  • How loud is it? (SPL at one meter) Will it wake up my neighbors on Saturday morning?
  • How/where do I get it serviced when it breaks?

Because of lack of information, I GAVE UP and didn’t purchase anything. The following evening I returned and found a salesman who knew a few of the answers. I bought the machine from him!

Importance of Product Information

Lack of information is not limited to weed wackers. One of my jobs is selling men’s shoes. Each brand sings their praises, but provides no VALID benefit for purchasing. (I am the lone remaining Master Shoe Fitter in the St. Louis area, so I dig hard to get convincing sales information.) Sadly across the spectrum, customers are left to make their decision on appearance and PRICE. Most times low price wins.

Unfortunately, retail stores with declining sales, cut inventory and qualified sales people to maintain acceptable margins. But now internet customers can get the same service with better selection, free shipping and avoid all taxes! If decisions are made on PRICE alone, how can retail stores compete?

Product Information Strategies

Ripe for failure, retail stores must change to draw in customers! Washburn and Wallace in Why People Don’t Buy Things, state 1st time purchasing decisions are based on who uses it (Beyonce wears it); product facts (info I was looking for) and the ability to intimately know the product.

Great Strategy for Retail Stores

Retail Stores need great products and selection, then arm salespeople with features, advantages and benefits with product users, and technical training for close scrutiny. Finally, they must service the heck out of customers! Service includes REAL effort to solve problems, (intelligent return policies); and a friendly, well-trained, motivated sales staff! Once satisfied, customers will repeat purchases from that dependable source due to good quality, product information received and great customer service!

Note 1: Once Chic-fil-a messed up by wife’s order, driving 15 miles before discovering it. Later contacting Chic-fil-a, they said they would have delivered the proper order even 15 miles away! That’s world-class service! (She was very impressed, so we purchase there regularly.)

Note 2: A customer walking into St. Louis’ largest automobile dealer is greeted with a significant specific list of over and above extras they do for the customer. Instead of complaining about the sales people Smart companies need to arm their sales people to do their job – CLOSING THE SALE.

The answer isn’t JUST to satisfy the bottom line, for lost sales will eventually make the store unsustainable. Keeping and growing a customer base is all important! Available Store or Product Information will make it crystal clear, they’d be stupid to purchase anywhere else!