Kagan: Every retailer success depends on golden rule
Too many companies break the golden rule with regard to their customers. Everyone realizes that happy, loyal, regular customers who return over and over are like gold to any business. This is one area where retail stores can have an advantage over online with their personal touch. Why then do so many stores do well with advertising and marketing, but screw up with personal service?
Personal service should be a competitive advantage. Yet, most companies don't train their workers to treat the customers well. To win the customer over. To make the customer fall in love with them and the company. That is the only way to grow customer loyalty and repeat business.
In fact, too many workers bring their bad attitude to work and ruin the relationship the company spend a fortune of money and time to build. Traditional retail stores can shine and build strong relationships with their customers in an age where e-commerce is rapidly growing.
However, treating customers badly will lose them every time. The problem is too often, companies don't train their workers about the golden rule.
Let me tell you about a retailer's mistake I experienced and how proper training could have avoided the problem. How this was an opportunity where a customer relationship could have been strengthened, instead of spoiled. Treating customers like gold is the only path to success, long term. Treating them like dirt however, well, you get the point.
Stein Mart makes mistake dealing with customer
A week or two ago, my wife bought something at Stein Mart. We are regular customers of this retail store and are generally very happy with them. Then, this week she received a $10 coupon in the mail from them. One of their holiday season offerings to customers. The coupon was only good Saturday, but would also be good until 1pm on Friday. So, the plan was to make a quick visit and get a $10 credit lickety-split.
However, on Friday it was snowing in Atlanta. Enough to make traffic grind to a stand-still. We had the choice of going today, or tomorrow, but tomorrow everything would be frozen overnight. So, we decided to fight the blizzard traffic to redeem the coupon today. OK, I decided we'd go today. My wife said I was crazy, but then again, well, she's probably right. But off we went.
When we got to the store and told them we just wanted to use this $10 coupon, you would have thought we were asking for the nuclear codes from the President of the United States of America. The store manager was there and she said, she can't give us the value because it was on a previous order.
Ok then, we said we'll just return it and buy it again, and use the coupon. Another step, but we could live with it. The manager said fine. However, once it was returned, she would have to put it back in stock and not give it to us to repurchase. Why was she making this process so difficult? Was this the store policy or was she having a bad day and taking it out on us?
What she should have done was simply give us the $10 for the coupon. If she had to refund the purchase and then ring it up again, she should have done that for us, quickly and easily. This makes sense, right? The idea is to show the customer you appreciate them, so they return.
We agreed, but my temperature was starting to rise. The item was returned. Then the manager disappeared with it. Moments later we went back to the rack to once again pick up the merchandise, but it wasn't there. We waited for a while and it still wasn't there.
Finally, standing at the front of the store, showing anger, I started to complain how they were treating good customers badly for no reason. Another Stein Mart worker asked if she could help. We told her the problem and she walked us to the aisle. Nothing. She looked around and found the item a few racks away with other clothes.
I don't know whether the manager was having a bad day. Whether she hid them on us or just made a mistake. I don't know what the problem was, but this was the last straw. Time and time again, we gave them the ability to do the right thing. And step by step the store manager made life difficult for good customers.
Bad attitudes like this destroy the customer relationship that take so much time, effort and money to build. That is the costly mistake Stein Mart made. They spend a fortune on advertising and marketing, but apparently not on training their personnel to take care of the customer. The reason is simple. The customer has choices.
Ritz Carlton and LL Bean treat customers like gold
Compare this to the ways great companies treat customers. The Ritz Carlton hotel chain trains their workers that they are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen. Workers are trained to keep customers happy, no matter what. Even if it costs them something short term, they focus on winning long term customers. Something every business should be focused on.
LL Bean is another great example. They are a mail order company which sells clothing online and in a catalog. Workers are trained to give the best customer service to customers. Their customer service operations are among the best I have ever experienced. Every time you talk with them, you leave the conversation with a smile and saying you'll be a customer for life.
Good companies don't burn relationships with customers. They build relationships. Yet, too often they don't properly train their workers. Everything that touches the customer, should leave that customer loving the entire experience.
Promotions and sales are there to build relationships with customers. However, bad treatment by the workers can ruin relationships instantly.
That's why it's key that executives not only come up with great promotions to build customer relationships, but also train their workers to take great care of the customer. Treat the customer like gold. That's the golden rule. That's the only way to be successful going forward.
Ask yourself a question. What is the purpose of a special promotion? Every executive should say, to continue to build a strong and great customer relationship. Poor worker attitudes will spoil this effort every time. Executives try and think of the right offerings to build customer relationships; however, they forget to train their workers to treat customers like gold. This is something every business should always focus on to be successful going forward.
Jeff KAGAN Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, speaker, author and consultant. Over 30 years he has followed the Customer Experience through technology like wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, AI, Mobile Pay, FinTech and more. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. www