I’m constantly amazed by the number of times that customers express their surprise by the prompt response they received, the straightforward ease of dealing with a particular company or even a simple polite please/thank they got at a check out desk. Or should these findings really be so astonishing to me?
For as long as I can remember (Euro 88’ being a good reference point here) we’ve had generally 6 levels of service in this country: excellent, good, ok, bad, really bad and diabolical. Ok and bad was almost the norm, until a few lonesome businesses pushed against convention and raised the bar. Taking this into consideration, I have to give a big shout out to the average consumer out there who has mainly nobly swallowed most of what has been dished up. Many consumers have long woken up to this treatment and have voted with their feet or fingers as the case may be. It’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time, there are many “Mrs Bucket” punters out there. Yet even today, businesses are too slow to change even small things. The amount of times in the last year I have been met with an unanswered phone or an unanswered email is bewildering. All these little things add up. Many well known retailers and service providers are so disappointing to deal with.
Take for example a recent trip I made to a large Irish grocery retailer (I needed something for the dinner). I placed my goods on the conveyor belt behind the person in front of me. I noticed that the checkout person was talking passed the person she was serving to a colleague on the next till (The topic – what is considered suitable attire for the Christmas Party). The conversation continued without a break as the previous customer collected her change and my items began to be scanned. Foolishly I interrupted about 30 seconds in to ask for a plastic bag. “I haven’t got any” was the bland response followed by a blank stare. The person in the queue behind me noticed one or two bags at her colleagues till. So I turned and asked if I could have one, “But then I’ll only have one left” I was told. This was turning into a tricky negotiation, all my experience was called on and in the end I managed to secure the two bags, one for myself and one for the customer behind me in the queue. I packed my few items, paid and left the shop safe in the knowledge that I would never return (I paid the bag tax as well if anyone from revenue is reading). An over reaction I hear you scream. No, I’ve put up with too much similar crap from the same shop for years now and I’m making a stand.
Good service is not that difficult to implement or provide. And I’m not talking about the “Have a nice day” stuff. Just a simple polite, positive attitude from staff will go a long way to satisfy many of your customers. The more complicated stuff like having enough bags might take a bit longer to remedy. The initial contact of a potential customer is of extreme importance. Coming from a small business setup myself it is so rewarding to hear from a client that they had a great experience in dealing with you. 2010 was full of: “front loading”, “ash clouds”, “wintery precipitation” and “Ajai Chopra”.
For all businesses, 2011 must be about customer satisfaction. Many have already come a long way over the last few years but there are many more with hard yards to make up. It may not pay off overnight but in the long term a business providing a consistent quality product or service constantly receiving recommendations, will have a great chance of getting through the bad times and come out stronger the other side. Who knows, you even might have a bit of fun along the way.
Ross Kavanagh has been working in the property industry for the last 8 years. In 2009 he set up his own building energy rating service www.bercertificate.ie in order to provide certification without fuss or complication. The company’s sole purpose is to provide prompt certification and advice on how to improve your properties energy rating.