As Steven Tyler of Aerosmith once said, “Anything that is worth doing is worth overdoing.”
While this may be true in principal, it typically falls short of expectations in the retail sector relative to customer service. Here’s a recent example of an experience I had at a local retailer clearly illustrating my point.
I recently walked into the XYZ convenience store and wanted to quickly buy an energy drink & a bottle of water prior to hitting the gym. The store was convenient and typically had the items I needed in stock and on-sale. As I was walking out to check out, I immediately noticed an unmanned cash wrap. Scanning the store, the only available associate I could find was fixated on their mobile phone, furiously texting away with a reckless abandon. Waving my hands, I called out, “Hello, can you ring me up?” The associate looked up and gave me a look as if I had interrupted important work in progress.
As frustrating as this is, it probably happens more often than not at most retailers today. Many have stripped down their operations in the hopes of improving their bottom line. As a result, most stores we visit have fewer and fewer associates focused solely on customers and are now being asked to wear multiple hats (including stocking, cleaning, cashiering – and in some cases supervising the floor.) Add in the challenges of cell phones on the sales floor and customers wind up taking a back seat. Something has to change. Customer service has to change.
And as consumers, we carry a big stick in the wild and wacky world of retail.
It’s us who ultimately determine where to spend our hard-earned money. If service is poor or the prices are too high, we can shop elsewhere. And in a world where digital shopping and next day delivery is just a click away, our options are multiplied 10x. Unfortunately for many consumers today, the option to shop somewhere else is never made and poor customer service is typically accepted without question. In order for retailers to change and customer service to improve, consumers must expect more from their retailers of choice.
I don’t think it’s too much to expect a friendly smile and welcome every time I enter a store.
I also don’t think it’s too much ask to have an employee stop stocking a shelf and actually help me find what I came in for (vs. pointing me to the general vicinity like they are Mickey Mantle ready to knock one out of the park). If customer service is to improve at our retailers of choice, we have to act and flex our “retail muscle”. If you don’t get the service you expect, ask for a manager. Let them know in no uncertain terms how you feel about their store and what you expect from your shopping experience going forward. If things don’t change during your next visit, make the call and take your money elsewhere. It’s as simple as that.
At Bear Ice Company, we pride ourselves on providing an amazing retail experience that keeps our customers coming back for more. Delivering Ice is not rocket science, but we treat every delivery like it is. Our team of well-trained drivers go the extra mile to ensure that each and every customer has a “Perfect 10” experience, and that’s an expectation that my brother and I hold our teams accountable to every day. But unfortunately we live (and shop) in a world where customer service levels are truly at all-time lows. So many businesses are failing and retail leaders just don’t seem to get the correlation between service and profits. So get your employees off Snapchat, Twitter, & Facebook and out on the sales floor greeting and engaging customers. Bear Ice in the Steven Tyler camp of “overdoing” it, and hope you might consider the same.