There are times I absolutely refuse to return something because I do not want to deal with (call) the retailer. I think we all have that threshold. That pile of things that need to “be returned”. And sometimes that return is happening – no matter what! You know the one I am speaking about. Come on!!
Now – consumer hat on. How do you feel about the thought of calling a retailer about something? Anxiety level just spiked didn’t it?! Expectations of “expectations” not being met? Absolutely.
Curiosity struck me today – so I did a bit of phone reconnaissance. A few random searches on Google for furniture stores in certain areas. Found 10 furniture retailers – and called the numbers on their websites:
Am I shocked – no. Am I surprised – again – sadly no.? Sad – a bit.
- 3 Automated phone systems.
- 1 Automated phone system that forwarded me to someone that was guess what “Out of the store on a delivery”.
- 2 very inconvenienced answerers with no real idea what was going on.
- A “Please hold” – put on hold (awful outdated promo recording until I just couldn’t take it anymore).
- A “Can you hang on for a sec..” – put on the desk to listen. Yep – sat on that desk for some time. Click.
- A pleasant greeting with a slightly informed person (lights were on).
- And 1 conversation I that gave me hope! Seriously. Knew what they had AND the price!
Thank goodness for number 10! 1 of 10 understood the importance of having an “A” player on their starting offense. First ring. Pleasant. Informed. Knowledgeable. Not inconvenienced. I was the most important thing to them at that moment. A G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time). Their own superstar. Someone that is that retailer’s first impression when contacted by a potential customer. Me. (1 of 10 – remember that stat).
I read an interesting article in Furniture Today about a retailer establishing a “crisis call center” to ensure that they were able to handle any customer inquiries and sales during the COVID-19 crisis. I love it – but wait, crisis aside – are you telling me that you wouldn’t want your best player on your offensive efforts given that is where the consumer is wanting (choosing) to engage with you? Even before the crisis – aren’t (weren’t) all those customers or prospects not worthy of a “Best in Class” effort? I understand additional capacities during times of crisis – absolutely (And I pray that they are all safe and sound as they do what they can during this generational defining event) – but look at the results from my random 10 calls. 1 of 10 have any semblance of the lights being on.
Yes, the mandates are there – but your retail business is on! Call yourself. Now. What did your “Customer” experience?
My top 3 musts! How many do you have? EVERY CALL?!!
- Answer on the first ring (Capacity to handle multiple callers)?
- Consistent greeting (The right tone, attitude, “posture”, even the wording makes an impact)?
- Knowledgeable person armed with the tools necessary to get the job done (Cloud-based intel in the hands of your brightest retail stars)?
Customer “success” efforts are operational symphony – and if done right, are a HUGE differentiator. My top 3 are nowhere near the entire list. To me – consumer hat on, they are important. Now no matter what the list – don’t let the basics of focused and purposeful customer support escape your attention. Because guess what – your customers are paying attention.
So is your competition!