Should A Specialty Retail Store Always Focus On The Customer?

 I have a friend who manages a landscaping supply store, which happens to also sell wood burning stoves and hot tubs. One day, a very demanding client calls who is trying to get the pipe paint to match her wood burning stove. Apparently, an exact match does not exist but she doesn’t like what the manufacturer suggests.

My friend goes above and beyond trying to help the customer. He has emailed the paint representative, the vendor for the paint and the stove manufacturer’s representative. Obviously, he’s trying multiple avenues to provide excellent service to this customer trying to help her out one morning. Before he hangs up the phone, he tells her to ask for him directly as he’s the only store representative familiar with this issue.

Do Customers Have Responsibilities Too?

The same woman calls again later that day and the receptionist answers the phone and the woman proceeds to explain her needs all over again without asking for the manager (my friend) who’s the only one familiar with the process. He luckily intercepted the call and assures her (the customer) that he’s doing everything possible at this time.

Look, if a customer makes a significant or noteworthy request, it is imperative they take notes during the initial conversations and know to whom they talked and request that person if they call the store again. The store is working on the customer’s behalf so the customer needs to work with the store in good faith.

According to what my friend says, this is not the first time he’s experienced this duplication of work. He has seen his employees on multiple times do the same work chasing down a special part or addressing a unique situation. I know some customers don’t care because it’s not on their dime or time but if you’re making a request which may generate additional phone calls or research, do whatever you can as a customer to expedite things for all parties involved.

Does the Paredo Principle (80-20 rule) apply here? Is it fair to spend hours chasing $8.00 worth of parts for someone else’s problem? How much legwork are you willing to do for your customer? What about someone else’s customer? How long does it take a store to establish research policies on behalf of their customers?

Service is something his independent store proudly provides and that brand helps attract customers to his store. When it comes to price, many of these same consumers are fickle and scurry to the big-box retailers to save a buck with or without the knowledge, they’ll most likely receive inferior service. Sometimes, consumers don’t realize service involves extra care and time which ultimately means their products might be slightly more expensive.

Is good service free? How valuable is that type of client if they don’t see a correlation between service and price?

A Generalization Often, a good clue or a “heads up” in terms of receiving lousy service from a retail store is the prices you’ll pay. In other words, if you’re ignored and not appreciated, chances are the store sells very inexpensive goods. I think for the most part, you get what you pay for. Would you agree?

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

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