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Customer Service; The Ultimate In Added Value?

posted by Fiona

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How important is the service you provide to your customer? Do you concentrate more on what you sell than how you sell it? This week, I’ve been out visiting a number of clients and experienced a wide range of customer service. From the excellent, to plane standard, to the down right poor.

It got me thinking more about the how much importance I, as a consumer, place on customer service.

The local shop, a staple visit in my weekly routine for the little things I have forgotten. The place that I run to when I have no milk, bread etc. When I became a regular customer the smile and thank you after my purchase became part of the routine. When I got a few more pieces and paid via card, the attendant and shop owner looked at my card and whilst packing my bag said, “Thank you, Miss Jardine”. A simple touch, but greatly appreciated.

A recent train journey of mine was delayed. A packed train in rush hour, which was described as an express service taking 25 minutes, took over an hour. No mention of this was made when I embarked on what was to feel like the longest journey ever. Forty minutes into the journey and my fellow commuters and I were shuffling restlessly in our seats, a faint message from the driver came across the tannoy system. In a hurried and mumbled voice, which was barely audible, he crackled information to the passengers and the train stopped. I glanced around the carriage and as I looked at the other travellers we all gave the universal shrug of shoulders and grimaced faces. The train had stopped and no one knew why. A conductor started asking for tickets, and was faced with several irate customers enquiring what the delay was. The answer they received and the manor in which it was delivered, took my breath away. “Yeah it’s delayed, I dunno how long for and I dunno why. You got your ticket?” No please, no apology. Just a series of bland statements delivered in a “can’t be bothered” tone.

I remembered my friendly assistant in my local shop. In my mind I made an instant comparison, I spend less than £5 and am greeted by name, a smile and I’m always thanked for my custom in a genuine manner. Compare this to the train where I’ve spent £50 and get grunted at by someone who just doesn’t seem to care. The value that the shop assistant and the train guard placed on my business couldn’t have been further apart. I have a choice where I shop and the assistant knows it – there is only one train I could travel on to make my journey – and the train attendant knows that too.

Now think about your customers, do they have a choice? In most cases they do. Why do your customers choose to use your business? Is it solely due to price? Is it the service you provide? Is it your product range? Is it the atmosphere in the store? Is it the fixtures and fittings? Is the status that your business name provides? Or could it be a combination? In my case its normally a combination of all of the above.

Music can create emotional responses, if you can positively effect the mood of your customer, they will spend more, and associate happy memories with your business . If you effect them negatively it can lead to a number of issues…. If the music is too fast, people can rush around the store missing important POS and offers. Too slow and people can loose interest. Too loud, people can get distracted and walk out. Too quiet and people don’t even recognise its there.

With so much competition out there, is it enough to just say pleases and thank you? In my opinion its about the whole customer journey. From the moment they walk in, to the moment they leave.

Photo by Sam Howzit / CC BY Desaturated from original
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