As a young graduate I worked for Myer Department Stores as one of their graduate trainees. As graduate Trainees, we had the privilege of excellent training and talking with and listening to, some outstanding retailers. The one thing that was drilled into us was that, “The customer is always right”. This philosophy informed so much of what we did and the policies and standards that Myer maintained on the sales floor. If a customer wanted a refund for goods recently sold, we would give it. If a customer wanted to change an item for a different one we would oblige. Most importantly we focused on ensuring that our customers had a pleasant experience and would become repeat customers.
Just recently I had a completely different experience with a local franchise. The clasp on my watch band broke and as the watch was a good one and had sentimental value for me I wanted the clasp repaired. I duely dropped my watch off for repair at a franchise outlet who advertised that they did watch band repairs and was assured that it would be fixed promptly. I was told this would take a day or so because their repairer was in another suburb. A few days later I came back expecting it to be fixed. I was then told that they would have to get a new watch band and if I wanted the brand it may be a week or so before they could get one in.
A week later I went back to the franchise to collect my new watch band. I was told “It’s not in, you will have to wait”. Weeks went by and there was no progress. I went back a number of times and began to wonder if my watch was lost. Each time I went back the staff member serving me became more surley and dismissive. By this time I had enough and rang the head office to make a complaint. They followed up and the regional sales manager rang me and assured me that he would investigate. A few days later he rang to say that there had been a mix up and they had managed to fix the clasp. To my amazement when I went back to the franchise to pick up my watch the same sales person I had previously dealt with, said that they had been unable to locate my watch and I would have to come back the following day. I was absolutely amazed by the level of incompetence here. I finally got my watch back the next day after a two and a half month time line to fix a clasp. Although they didn’t charge me for the repair, I was very unhappy with their level of service.
As I reflected on this experience a number of things come to mind;
Firstly; the critical importance of having the right people in your business.
People who have a great attitude, who value clients and treat their customers well.
People who display initiative and look for proactive solutions to specific problems
People who can be great brand ambasadors for your company.
These sort of people can impact your bottom line. Infact, studies conducted in the USA have indicated that they can increase company profit by 20% or more.
Secondly; the importance of communicating regularly with your clients about the progress of the sale/candidate/project.
I had recieved no corespondence until I had rung head office of the franchise I was dealing with.
It will be regular, timely and thorough communication that will differentiate you from the crowd.
Thirdly; this experience ensured that I will never deal with this branch of the franchise again.
Repeat business is the key factor for many businesses survival.
You only get repeat business by delivering excellent service in an efficient, timely manner.
When you give an undertaking, it has to be followed through. If there is a problem don’t ignore it, fix it.
Remember for every disattisfied customer there will be 26 others who have not complained but are unhappy. Market research also indicates that an unhappy customer will tell between 9 and 15 others, social networking has multiplied this exponentially. They will also defect to your rivals.
Even if your business is not in a retail setting these lessons hold true for your client relationships.
M.D. National Talent Partners
Securing and developing talented people for successful businesses.