Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good Advice in Tough Times

Here's some free advice to all those desperate retailers: good customer service goes a long way towards retaining business.

I have been working in customer oriented jobs since I was 16 and I have been in charge of training people in customer service for many years. It seems to me that customer service is getting worse just at the time it should be getting better. In my line of work we rely on teachers and group leaders to bring their groups back every year, we count on retaining those sales while making new sales to reach our ever increasing goals each fiscal year. The person taking the reservation needs to make them feel comfortable and happy about their decision. Policies need to be in place to share communication from reservation to tour guide. The tour experience needs to meet the goals of the teacher as explained at the time of reservations and the teacher needs to leave feeling good about the decision to take the kids out of the classroom and into this museum. If not, we lost the customer and the word of mouth can cause a loss of many more customers. I take it seriously and expect other customer service organizations to take it as seriously when I am the customer.

I was lucky enough to get my xmas present from #1 super hubby early this year. We went to pick it out last Saturday. My old laptop was cheap to begin with and fine for when I only used it occasionally but with more use it has become annoyingly slow and I am constantly complaining about it. So we went to Best Buy to get a new laptop. I was so excited and had done some research on what to get and what the prices were like. I knew what I wanted. Mark knows quite a lot about computers so he also was very aware of what I needed and what it would cost. He was also excited to inherit my old laptop and try out some new operating systems that would make it faster and allow him to go online while hanging out with me. We had to go to Best Buy because Circuit City and Comp USA had both gone out of business recently. Best Buy is not known for its customer service and it really showed. One saleslady was very nice, answered some questions but then disappeared. when we were ready there was no one around. I finally found someone and asked about the first lady, since I wanted to make sure she got the commission. When I was told she was on a break and they didn't work on commission I asked this new guy to get us the computer we wanted. Instead of having a pleasant attitude and making us feel good about our rather large purchase he proceeded to act like we were stupid and tried to make us feel small. Is this a new sales pitch I am unaware of? He asked if we knew that this computer doesn't come with any software? I didn't even know what to say because of course it comes with software, what he means is that it doesn't come with Microsoft office which we did know but why say it like that? When we said yes, that's fine he said "So you aren't going to go online at all?" What he meant was that there was no security software so we shouldn't go online without installing something. He wanted to try and bully us into spending several hundreds more on security software. Well, trying to make me feel stupid is not the way to do it. We should not have bought anything from him but like I said, not really any other choice. When we got home we realized that HP does come with security software so not only was he trying to bully us he was actually lying.

This concept of acting superior as a sales strategy is happening more and more. In these tough economic times businesses should be looking for ways to stand out from the crowd and price is not the only way. a policy of good customer service can make a big difference in creating a loyal and repeat customer base. I will try to avoid Best Buy in the future.

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