Raising the Bar

"Customers are
demanding more from the companies with whom they choose to do business." 1to1 Weekly reports on a recent customer service survey from the National Retail Federation.  According to the survey, the top three retailers, in order, are Amazon.com, Nordstrom, and L.L. Bean.

Asked to rate the level of customer service they expect from certain types of stores on a one-to-five scale (with
one representing "poor" and five representing "excellent"), survey respondents noted their high expectations for
specialty stores (4.40 rating) and department stores (4.12)."

When an on-line retailer like Amazon.com, known primarily for its huge selection and low prices can score the top spot in customer service, it certainly raises the bar for everyone else.  You expect excellent service from Nordstrom, a company known for going above and beyond to exceed customers’ expectations.  The same is true for L.L. Bean.  But a mail-order book warehouse?

If customers expect to receive service that rates 4.4 out of 5 from specialty stores, what do you have to do to exceed those expectations? to stand out from the crowd?   The answer is  you must be almost perfect. 

Amazon manages a customer base of more than sixty-one million yet knows more about me than my local bookstore does.  They email me with recommendations based on books I’ve bought in the past.  They suggest additional items based on other people’s past purchases. Orders almost always arrive earlier than the promised delivery date.  Even though I buy locally whenever I can, there are some specialty books that just aren’t available anywhere else.  They would get that business even if their customer service was terrible.  But it isn’t terrible.  It’s the best, rated even higher than Nordstrom’s.

As a specialty retailer, you have to be even better.  Today’s consumer expects it.

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