Showing posts with label Customer Service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Customer Service. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2019

Believing in what you sell is one of the most critical aspect in retail.

David Ogilvy, one of the gurus of advertising is credited with this quote; “I never assign a product to a writer unless I know that he is personally interested in it. Every time I have written a bad campaign, it has been because the product did not interest me.”

Decades later this maxim holds true for not only advertising but actually about almost everything we do in life. If we truly believe in something, we give it our best and the outcome is invariably a positive one.

This reality becomes critical in retail as the shopper is driven and motivated by the trust he or she reposes in the store. In reality, it is not even in the store but in the staff and their service.

It is no wonder that the staff are referred to as the “Face of the Retailer”.

In spite of this, the majority of training initiatives are focused on customer service, smiling and wishing the customer, etc. Very rarely have I come across a retailer who takes the trouble to sell their merchandise to their own staff and make them to truly believe in what they are being asked o sell.

That was the crux of the issue that was mentioned to me by a young retail manager and which led to this “Business Line” article; Do you believe in what you sell?

Apart from the interesting anecdote about my interaction with this your retail professional, the article also captures an essential milestone in the journey of modern trade in India, especially that of food/ supermarket formats.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Customer delight is a function of expectations

The Kabali fever is on and I succumbed to it! After watching the movie some interesting perspectives with regard to retail cropped up in my mind. Obviously the power of branding and the ability to drive massive, unheard-of footfalls into theatres is one of the predominant thoughts. The related thought is with regard to converting these walk-ins into repeat customers and loyal shoppers.

That the movie Kabali has had an unprecedented amount of build up and hysteria is an understatement. It was released on 22nd July 2016 across the world in thousands of screens. I don’t think that any other movie has been screened in Chennai city today. All screens are showing Kabali from as early as 4.00 am onwards. Aircrafts were painted with the Kabali picture, hotels had Kabali menu and even some organizations declared a holiday as the majority of the employees were anyways expected to be absent from work. In sum, this extended weekend can safely be called as the Kabali weekend!

Needless to say this hype along with a near total secret shroud around the storyline and other details about the movie helped create an anticipation and expectation which was far more than even sky high. In Rajini terms, it was galaxy high!

I was reminded of several of the store launches we had choreographed where similar hype would be created albeit at a much smaller and localized level.

Now I come to the moment of truth; the movie experience. I am not going to share any spoilers or story details. Let the Kabali weekend play out and maybe I will add on some views regarding this later on. As of now, all ye fans can look forward to the movie without any spoilers from me at least.

The experience I would like to talk about is that of an excited viewer on the first day of a Superstar’s much awaited movie. In a manner of speaking it was the first day, first show as it was the first show in the theatre we went to see Kabali. The usual scenes of super excited crowds were seen outside the theatre. The expected thrill from the movie was writ large on the faces of everyone. As expected there was a person in a suit trying to believe and also make others believe that he was Kabali. Shouting, hooting, jostling, etc., was all adding up and increasing the excitement levels. We were allowed into the theatre and the entry of the audience was punctuated with whistles, shouts etc. The start of the movie was amazing where the audience thrill, enthusiasm and excitement were as interesting to watch if not more.

The first few scenes where Thalaivar Rajinikanth makes his entry, delivers some of his key dialogues, etc., and was greeted wildly by the audience with whistles, people standing up, clapping and more. Subsequently, the theater settled down and everyone watched the movie in silence. Barring a few moments of euphoric whistling, clapping and cheers, the three hours was by and large a quiet experience. Even the ending seemed to be subdued as everyone made their way out of the theatre.
This is not what one usually experiences in a first day first show of a superstar. In fact many people go to these shows to see the fans in action and be a part of the excitement. They then go to actually watch the movie again.

I am not going to comment on whether the movie was good or bad, speculate about the story, etc. My interest is more in the crowd or customer reaction which I think was markedly subdued. I wonder how many of them would be coming back to watch the movie again and that is what triggered a thought in the context of retail.

Is it that the hype ended up creating expectations which are almost impossible to meet? In such a scenario, initial response might be fantastic but repeat business might be difficult to get. In any retail context hype and excitement is what pulls shoppers to come into any store. The question that any retailer must answer is whether the store can live up to the hype and resultant expectations. The store by itself might be excellent just like how the Superstar’s performance in Kabali is outstanding. However even that might not be enough if the expectations created are way more than what is being delivered. 

One must always keep in mind that customer satisfaction and customer delight is more dependent on the expectations being created than the actual delivery and experience.

Picture courtesy - V Creations

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Do organisations really want Happy Customers?!

I saw a cartoon in a leading national daily and was struck by the irony in this illustration. Although it is prima facie humorous, it is also a reflection of the reality and holds a very strong message to organizations, especially Retailers.

customer delight, customer service, service, retail, etail, online shopping, service delivery

It raises the following questions which I will address.
  • Do Retailers expect any customer to be happy, satisfied or delighted at all?
  • Are organizations serious about making customers happy, satisfied or delighted?
  • If there is no breed called happy customers, whose fault is it?

Forget Retailers, most organizations do not expect their customers to be even satisfied forget about being delighted. The rationale behind this statement is the fact that I am yet to come across anyone having a system or process to handle happy or satisfied customers. Let me illustrate this with an example from two service sectors. In most stores there are loyal customers who are happy and often give positive feedback and express their satisfaction with the store and staff members. Unfortunately these customers are often ignored while unhappy customers who complain get a lot of attention. In most of my programs I have advocated customer interaction forums where such loyal and happy customers are invited and that recognition alone would be a first level of reward for these shoppers. The second example is with regard to a leading airline. I had praised the way their staff had handled a situation and had messaged them. Imagine my surprise when I got a template reply thanking me for my patronage and feedback. Obviously their service staff has no idea about handling a happy customer.

Of course, it can be argued that organizations expect all their customers to be happy and that unhappy customers need to be handled as they are the exception. This is totally wrong. Even if satisfied customers are the norm they need to be recognized in order to motivate them to continue sharing this satisfaction and happiness.  Apart from reproducing a few appreciative letters or comments, most organizations do not even acknowledge satisfied customers.

This situation is largely because most organizations espouse customer service and delight while their actions on the ground are directly opposite to that. A very common example is the promise of a hassle free replacement while making the actual process for this painful enough to dissuade the shopper. Every shopper of physical or online retail must have experienced the sheer frustration of trying to resolve an issue wherein the customer service person responds like a robot with template responses which in most cases are completely irrelevant. In the case of such a reality it is highly questionable if organizations especially retailers are really serious about customer satisfaction or are they focused only on managing dissatisfied customers.

This is again a problem with regard to the service delivery design and the management’s orientation towards customers and shoppers. Although the stated intent of the organization is great service and satisfied customers, almost every system and process in place focuses on controlling and constraining the front line staff. This means that they are rarely empowered to deliver customer satisfaction. Obviously such staff have no clue about handling happy customers simply because they are not empowered to make the customer or shopper happy!

Lastly is the point about whose fault is it. Although organizations are at fault, the customer and shoppers must share some of the blame with regard to this situation. The majority of shoppers are eager to complain and make a noise when they are not satisfied. Unfortunately they rarely take the trouble to even mention situations and interactions which make them satisfied or happy.

The old saying that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is very apt in this context. Unhappy and dissatisfied customers make a noise and so organizations take the trouble to think of ways to handle them and manage such people. Happy and satisfied customers keep quiet and so the organization in most cases is not even aware that they exist. It is no wonder that most staff members do not know how to handle happy customers and their appreciation.

This cartoon is actually a reflection of reality and for this to change the customers and shoppers need to speak up when they are happy and satisfied. Organizations on their part should start recognizing happy customers instead of only managing the unhappy ones. 

Cartoon courtesy - The Hindu