Consumers Not Satisfied with Customer Service

According to Inc.com, a recent on-line survey has shown that nearly one half of US consumers have stopped patronizing at least one business in the last year because of bad customer service.  The survey was conducted in May by Accenture, a management consulting firm.

46% said poor service had driven them away from at least one firm this year.  18% said retailers have the worst customer service followed by Internet service providers, banks, phone companies, and cable/satellite TV.  Utility companies, life insurance companies, airlines, and hotels were the least often mentioned.  That’s really not surprising since it’s hard, if not impossible, to walk away from these types of businesses. 

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there is nothing that an independent retailer can do that will have greater returns than providing world-class service.  Over the weekend, I went with my son to buy a new vehicle.  He knew what he wanted and how much he wanted to pay.  He bought from the first dealer that we visited.  Why?  Well, first they had what he wanted and worked with him to get to the right price.  But more important, the whole transaction was just pleasant.  There was no pressure.  Everyone at the dealership was friendly and helpful. 

When we went to pick up the new vehicle, it was freshly washed and had a full tank of gas (not a small thing nowadays, especially for a pickup truck with a 26 gallon tank).  We kept them past closing time signing everything (my fault, I was late) but there was no rush, no one flashing the light or standing by the door tapping their foot. 

This wasn’t a huge sale for the dealer but it was a BIG deal for my 22 year old son.  He’d shopped around and frankly, other dealers hadn’t treated him nearly as well.  Most blew him off and didn’t even offer him a test drive.  Here’s the thing.  He’s 22.  This was his first car-buying experience.  Don’t you think he’ll remember who treated him well and who didn’t?  Given the rate of inflation, he’ll spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on cars and trucks over the course of his lifetime. So will his friends and family.

It costs nothing to treat people well.  Auto dealers aren’t exactly turning people away today, especilly people shopping for full-size pickups.  Salesmen who would rather talk to one another or talk on the phone than talk to a potential customer should find another line of work.  Ditto for those who prejudge rather than prequalify.  That college kid in the ragged jean shorts might just have a father willing to co-sign his loan.  Word of mouth is the best, the cheapest, and the most effective form of advertising.  But, you can’t buy it.  You have to earn it.

It’s Monday.  You probably have a lot of work to do, getting caught up from the weekend.  But there’s nothing you can do today that’s more important than making sure that every prospect who walks into your store, leaves with a smile on her face and a positive story to tell her friends, whether she buys anything or not.

What are you doing to ensure that your customers get the best service possible?

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