About two years ago I wrote a series of columns co-inciding with the remodeling of our kitchen.
Well we’re at it again, this time replacing the living and dining room carpets with laminated wood flooring (just in case you were interested).
Do you think the experience we’ve had – online response, customer service is any different from the last time? Nope. Yes physically (if that the right word) two years have passed. However you’d have to be an ostrich with your head buried in the sand not to notice that almost every customer you have has a smartphone and a tablet or computer at home. Shopping is different today – yet it seems – at least this sector of New Zealand retailing is still in the 1980’s .
So what do Debbie and Steve do when they want to replace flooring? Like so many a potential customer today, we shop online first, then go to the physical stores for the touchy, feely as well as advice.
From our experience in the bloom of 2015, retailers are lacking and don’t seem to care. Let me explain
- Three website contact forms filled out requesting quotes. A week later – still no response at the time of writing this column. This is totally unacceptable. The internet has created an atmosphere of wanting information and answers now. So how can it be that though the websites I went to were polished. Professional. Lovely. They unanimously let their form filled email enquiries go unanswered?
Have you ever thought of the real cost to your business of just one lost customer? Or conversely the value that simple procedures established AND FOLLOWED THROUGH for website enquires can add to your profit?
Solution: Simply create a standard paragraph that can be inserted into all quotes and have the receptionist send them. The paragraph can be saved as a quick part (Outlook); Scrapbook item (Mac) or canned response (Gmail). Then assign it to a salesperson and keep track – even if it’s simply on an Excel spreadsheet –date, enquiry, person responsible, outcome!!!!
- We hit six physical locations; either my husband alone or both of us.
Bar one, not one of the sales people seemed interested, or in any rush to help us even though the stores were pretty empty.
Hello! What happened to the old fashioned meet and greet and ‘can I help you’?
Solution: Don’t underestimate the value of good staff and great customer service and the business and referrals it generates. This is the lifeblood of most small businesses. Greet customers. Leave them alone if they say they’re just browsing but if there is real interest – don’t let the customer walk out of the store without leaving a contact point for the salesperson to follow up. Most often you’ll find that one of your largest competitors isn’t the similar store down the road, its inertia on the customer’s part.
- Four days have passed since our floors were measured by one establishment. We were promised the quote later that afternoon. We are still waiting.
Solution – This could be bad communication between the measuring team and the salespeople. I don’t know the answer here as it is simply just humans being slack.
Nine companies visited – four online and five in store.
- Three online requests for quotes ignored, unanswered.
- One we telephoned (after looking at their website) said his measurer will call to make an appointment. Five days have passed. No call.
- Three stores let my husband linger and also walk out without asking him if they would like them to contact him
- One gave good advice but didn’t have the right product
- The first that we visited has languished getting back to us with the quote.