Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Personal relationships matter, more

It is no news, that you can buy any product, anywhere, any time. For shop owners, it is very hard to be differentiating at the product/assortment level.  Most competition is therefor happening at price. This has a negative impact on a lot of brick and mortar stores, as most products can be bought more cheaply online. Downtown and in many other shopping centers, there are a lot of vacant spaces, which don’t get rented anymore.

One of the main ways to stay relevant (and in business!) is to build a relationship with your customers. If a shop owner still recalls my name after a while, that is very nice. Even better if (s)he knows what I did buy the last time. Or if he gives me useful advice.

As human beings, we still are social creatures. We like to belong, to connect with others, to be seen and valued. This personal relationship, combined with excellent service is increasingly a huge differentiator for shop owners (and other SME’s).  This also means that social skills are maybe even more important than sales and/or product skills.

Do you really know your customer, personally?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Good customer service: a nuisance or a differentiator?

Last week, I did call my mobile telecoms provider, as my voicemail was not working. People did call me and tell me that they had left a voicemail. But I did never receive those messages.
As part of the call menu, I did have to key in my phone number. Okay and then I had to wait in the queue, where they didn’t mention the approximate waiting time. Then a customer service repr did answer and the first question is “what is your phone number?” That is so annoying and a waste of resources.  The repr did try to help me and she said that if the hard reset didn’t work, I had to call again. So, I did ask whether I could call her directly then. No, that was not possible, I just had to get back in the queue again.

The reset didn’t work, so I had to call again. Another repr couldn’t fix it either and said that my call would be escalated to the technical services department.  They did contact me four (!) days later. And after some testing, my voicemail is still not working. Another person from another department has to help me further. They haven’t contacted me, yet!

Clearly this costs the provider and myself a lot of time (and money) and my satisfaction level is certainly not increasing….
It looks to me that they have designed this service, with only their needs in mind. And they didn’t test the service, from a customer’s point of view.

Now, we all know that there is a cutthroat competition between telecoms providers. Who is the first one to understand that a good (and preferably, excellent) customer service is the true differentiator?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!