BrainTrust Query: How Consumers Killed Customer Service
A recent Brandweek article
titled "Retail Customer Service Stinks" reported the results
of The Retail Service Quality Index, released by consulting firm The SALT & Pepper
Group. It stated that the service received by shoppers in over 1,000 retail
interactions in the study rated 48.2 out of a possible 100 points. It’s
a flunking grade, but the fact that
"service stinks" is entirely our fault – we consumers, that is.
the lowest airfare wherever we flew. We went to the buy-one-get-one sales.
We made Walmart what it is today. We camped out for Black Friday. We built
the dollar store channel. The bottom line is that we voted with our wallets
and customer service lost.
of our lust for cheap stuff combined with the retailers’ hunger for profit
is that there’s barely a working wage left in it for most retail employees.
And yet with most retail workers at or near minimum wage, we somehow expect
them to sweep us off our feet and treat us to a profound in-store experience.
We expect them to dazzle us with their knowledge and helpfulness. It’s
And our preference
for price didn’t only erode wages, it trimmed recruiting costs, eliminated
training budgets, slashed worker medical benefits, and put a virtual moratorium
on employee corporate mobility. We made it so. We demanded it.
devastating effect of discounting on the market in general, there are still
some remaining vestiges of service. The Apple Store, Lululemon, Nordstrom,
and Publix Super Markets are a few names that consistently rise to the
top in discussions on in-store experience. Their closest commonality apart
from superior service is that none of them have staked their reputation
on price; they haven’t allowed us to drag them into the mud like so many
others. They prove that in a world of price promotion, it’s still
possible to differentiate and create remarkable brand experiences that
people will pay a premium for. Rarities like Southwest Airlines that manage
to combine low price and great service are exactly that – rarities.
we need to ask ourselves the next time we’re confronted with bad service
is: would we pay more to have a great experience? Would we literally reach
into our pockets and pay an extra 20 percent or more for excellent service?
It’s not as easy a decision as one might think.
If all we conclude
from this study is that retailers scored 48.2 and "service stinks" then
we lose again. The real story here is that there are 51.8 points of unclaimed
turf for smart retailers who want it. The service gap has never been larger.
Never have the opportunities to shine and create remarkable customer experiences
been more abundant.
As far as I’m
concerned that’s good news for the future of great retail.
Questions: Are consumers largely responsible for any deterioration in
customer service at retail? To what degree would better compensation
for store associates solve most issues? Are most consumers near a point
where they’d likely pay a premium for better service?
- How Consumers
Killed Customer Service – Retail Prophet
- Report: Retail
Customer Service Stinks – Brandweek
- Consumers Say
Service Stinks at Retail – Retailwire