Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Customer Service -- Illusion or Reality?

In his most recent column, Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus nails the current state of "customer service" in the big box retail world...

The Sad Illusion of Happy Customers
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2009
Retailers say they want shoppers to be satisfied, but few have the resources to deliver the goods.

A sampling:

"'Happy customers is a long-term strategy for us,' Best Buy's chief marketing officer, Barry Judge, told me. 'If they're happy, they'll want to buy more.'

That's the idea anyway. But after visiting a couple of Best Buy stores and chatting with customers, I'd say the company still has some work to do on the happiness front."

He continues by citing multiple examples -- his own and those of customers.

There's a good chance you can add to the list too.

Personally, I recently went into a Best Buy browsing for cell phones and wanting to learn about family plan options. Even though two employees were sitting nearby, no one approached me during the five minutes I was looking around. A minute later, I was gone and will probably never step into that particular store again.

Lazarus is also featured on American Public Media's program, Marketplace, today:

Where's the Focus on Customer Service?
L.A. Times columnist David Lazarus talks with Bill Radke about why more businesses aren't focusing on customer service with so many consumers reluctant to spend. | Link

I especially like how Lazarus calls out Trader Joe's as an example of the way customer service should be.

Just yesterday, shopping in a crowded and busy TJ's, employees were everywhere. Even as they restock shelves, they are always on the look out for customers in need. They are always (ALWAYS) happy, knowledgeable, and most important, genuine.

To Best Buy CMO Barry Judge's point, my experience at Trader Joe's almost always leaves me feeling great. That's something that Best Buy -- or for that matter, the big grocery stores that compete with TJ's -- have never been able to replicate.

Read or listen to the Marketplace piece here:

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