The Customer Is King
Many, many, years ago, when I was just a young boy, I used to spend time with my dad in his shop. He used to sell hi-fi components, car audio systems, accessories and more. It was a wonderful shop; located just outside the centre of Bournemouth.
As a boy, I used to love the new equipment that was for sale.
Long before the days of digital technology; not an iPod in sight. This was the day of the first Walkman (does anyone remember the Sony Stowaway?) and portable music.
The days of turntables and cassette players. Ironically, the days of turntables have returned.
The shop was a haven for electronic enthusiasts who bought their resistors, transistors, bulbs, fuses, cables and connectors; not in packets, but individually.
I remember the rows and rows of little drawers behind the counter, each housing many variants of components.
My dad would build a rapport with his customers, the like of which I’ve never seen or heard of anywhere else.
He would treat them with respect, laugh and joke with them; many times juggling two or more customers at the same time; by the end everyone would be chatting, resulting, more times than not in the all important sale.
To my father, the customer really was king.
I also remember, halfway up the stairs, pinned to the wall was a poster. Like the one here; it has always had a lasting impression.
I used to love seeing this as I walked up or down the stairs.
Years later, and it’s a mantra that holds true today. Not only in retail, but across the whole gamut of service industries too.
What’s more, I consider everyone I talk to at work as my customer.
Sadly, the shop may no longer be; but so too customer service is deteriorating. Now, it’s warehouse-style stores, with indifferent members of staff!
I know that’s a controversial line! There are plenty of small, local, businesses that thrive on giving great customer service — just as my dad once did. So, it’s important not to tar everyone with the same brush.
I think the big warehouses are making inroads into their service, but they are still a mile away from a friendly face across the shop floor.
On the other hand, move your buying experience online, and it’s a whole new ballgame.
We like the ease, accessibility, and often cheaper prices than would be seen on the high street. Unfortunately, that comes at a cost; because now we don’t even get to look into the salespersons' eyes; we look at a web page. We read reviews of the products (and hope they’re not planted to make everything look rosier) and we use review sites, such as Trustpilot and Google Reviews, to bolster our considerations.
I’m not saying this is wrong, or right. I’m the first one to jump on a website to make a purchase, or at the very least, compare prices.
The use of social media also helps to build their brand, but I do miss speaking to someone and getting a good understanding of the offering.
Buying online works well, most of the time.
Occasionally, it doesn’t go so well.
What do you do then? How good is the customer service and the returns policies? This is usually when an online store can really come into its own. This can make or break the perception of their business.
Some companies are renowned for their ongoing customer service, whilst others promise the world, then fail to deliver.
What do you do then?
I do know one thing. I won’t be buying anything else from that company again.
Customer service obviously means very little to them.
I am obviously not a king, but I work hard for my money and there are plenty of businesses out there looking to relieve me of my hard-earned cash. I’ll happily spend where it’s appreciated!
Have you experienced such bad service that you’ll never return?
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