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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Customer Service Matters!

"Rated Best in Customer Service" originally uploaded by Striatic.
Hey! Customer service REALLY matters!!

In the July 2006 issue of EPM Communications' Marketing to Women newsletter [a must-read resource for those seriously committed to learning more on the subject], an article titled "Price and Service Gain Importance With Female Shoppers" summarizes some of the findings from the WSL Strategic Retail report titled "How America Shops 2006. "...The authors find that what really matters today [with female shoppers] is service - and the most crucial part of good service is respect for the customer. ... If women aren't treated with respect by sales staff, they will quickly look elsewhere."

Another Marketing to Women newsletter article titled "Good Customer Service Is a Must-Have, Says Women" summarizes the Frank About Women study titled "Elevated Expectations: The New Female Value Equation". It, too, reinforces the criticality of customer service: "Retailers may consider good customer service a point of differentiation, but women consider it an absolute necessity - and most will CHANGE STORES to get it. More than nine in 10 [97%] expect good customer service everywhere they shop, and 89% will choose a store with better customer service over a competitor offering similar merchandise and prices. Eight in 10 women [80%] say they'll REFUSE TO GO BACK to a store after only ONE BAD EXPERIENCE, and 94% say they tell others about bad customer service experiences." [The press release refers to a desire for 'Nordstrom-quality' experiences.]

I was also intrigued with a 7/12/06 release from Corporate Research International, which specializes in mystery shopping and customer satisfaction surveys, titled "Real People Rate Customer Service". Over 5000 consumers participate via online surveys, rating how they perceive a business' customer service, across 14 different industries. Nordstrom, Southwest, Washington Mutual [aka WaMu], Ace Hardware and Marriott are some of the highest ranking companies. You can go directly to this site and play with some of the data. Note that you can filter the data based on male/female as well as state, age and race.

In looking up 'customer service' in Wikipedia [more about that in the next post], I came across this fabulous blog on the customer experience. It's called Customers Are Always and includes many thought-provoking posts. I am adding this resource to Flooring the Consumer's blogroll.

Finally, do take a look at this 7/21/06 article from the Times Union, Albany NY titled "Want me coming back? It's easy" that discusses the importance of customer service [i.e., speed, service and convenience] to satisfy consumers. The author's final comments: "The lessons here? If you're the home-improvement chain, car dealer or truck rental agency that failed to give me speed, service or convenience, YOU'LL NOT GET MY BUSINESS again. But if you can meet those basic needs -- I don't even need the "ma'am" -- I'll BEAT A PATH TO YOUR DOOR. "

[By the way, the irony of the picture above is that the store manager came out to chase away the photographer. So much for being best in customer service!]

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