What is with all these complicated “customer service” programs that don’t actually SERVE the customer? The Scratch and Sniff card that can only be used between April 15th and May 3rd under the light of a full moon or the overly complicated loyalty cards with all their time-sensitive, bonus cash coupons, and all that blah, blah, blah stuff that requires a graduate degree in retail shopping!
Somewhere between driving sales and increasing the bottom-line, companies forget that what really builds customer loyalty is good old-fashioned customer service. NOT these ridiculous schemes that are designed to boost sales during slow periods or increase the per transaction spend. They do nothing for the customer who is forced to navigate the complicated rules when really all they want is a quality product (or service) for a reasonable price.
A Case Study for Good Old-Fashioned Customer Service
A recent shopping expedition had me visiting The Shoe Company, a discount shoe retailer known for their low prices and random assortment of sizes and styles. Crunched for time and needing a very specific shoe, a slip-on flat suitable for travel, I found a pair that fit my needs perfectly, but unfortunately, not my feet. So I asked the clerk if they could check for a smaller size, which they didn’t have at their location. A quick search confirmed that another store did have that size.
So I asked if they could do a store transfer. At this point, I was preparing to be addressed in a “Calm down and let the hostages go” manner as I had become accustomed to with many other retailers who flat-out refuse to do store transfers. “No problem.” Then I held my breath and asked if they could hold the other pair just in case the smaller size was too tight, preparing for the “Are you kidding me, lady?” reaction. Again, no problem.
It made me more loyal to their brand than any loyalty card ever could because I got what I needed with little hassle. Yes, it would be easier if they had my size available the very day I visited the store since the store transfer meant a second trip back to the mall, which in the world of a time-crunched mompreneur is a big deal. But their cheerful accommodation more than made up for it. So much so that I popped into the men’s section and found a pair of sandals for my husband.
How to Uncomplicate Your Customer Service Approach
Get to the Essence — Ask yourself what is it that you DO (or your product does) for the customer? How can you amplify that essence and make it an even better experience?
Refocus on the Customer — Stop trying to figure out how to better your bottom-line and start focusing on what your customers need from you. Instead of trying to change customer behavior, change how you operate.
Keep It Simple (Silly) — Take the K.I.S.S. approach and make it easy for your customers to interact with your business. If you do want to encourage them to do something in particular, make it so simple that they can’t not do it.