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If you’re a subscriber of this blog then you know by now – we are firm believers that price and product selection are converging for many online categories, and as a result the best way for an online business to differentiate is to provide an outstanding customer experience.
With the recent news that Dollar General is launching an ecommerce site, we’re obviously curious about the kind of customer service policies and practices we should expect from the discount retailer’s new online store. After all, it’s hard to find a better example of price convergence than the “dollar-store” category.
For starters, let’s look at one of Dollar General’s main competitors, Dollar Tree. While Dollar Tree offers 24/7 call support and free shipping for orders sent to a local Dollar Tree store, it doesn’t allow for returns (all sales are final).
Adding to our intrigue about Dollar General’s future online service is that it plans to outsource the majority of its operations – including its customer service – to GSI Commerce, a solution provider that helps create, develop and run online shopping sites for numerous brands and retailers. According to the InternetRetailer article about the new site, Dollar General’s online store will not launch with the same in-store pick up option that Dollar Tree provides. Let’s hope this is not one of many services left off the new Dollar General site.
If we may be so bold as to place some requests, it would be great to see the new Dollar General site offer:
What do you think? Can a company offering such low-priced items be successful in the ecommerce game? Will it be able to compete on the ultimate differentiator, customer service?
We will find out soon enough, as the site is planned to launch September 8th. Stay tuned!
Seems like more and more companies are entering the WOW! service game. Initiated first by internet retailer and customer service extraordinaire Zappos, and most recently adopted by TD Bank. A bank providing WOW service? Not an industry most customers associate with outstanding service.
TD Bank has gone so far in promoting their WOW! service, they created a feature on their site called the “WOW! Zone” where parents can teach their children important information on money.
So why enter the WOW! game? I think its simple… provide a great experience for a customer, more importantly an experience that exceeds their expectation, and they are bound to spread the word about your brand. Ask any marketer what the strongest form of marketing is and undoubtedly they’ll say WOM (Word-of-Mouth).
So instead of spending thousands of dollars on that next 30 second TV spot or a two page ad in a national publication, maybe businesses should think more about investing that money in additional customer service training. What drives you to try out a new brand most? Is it word of mouth or is it other forms of marketing? And what are you more likely to share with your friends… An outstanding shopping experience or a tv ad?
If only he shopped online… more specifically on sites with the STELLAService Seal of customer service excellence.
What’s the furthest you’ve gone to purchase a product? Or better yet, what’s the easiest purchase you’ve made online thanks to outstanding customer service?
One of my favorite parts about working during summer, are the interns that join the STELLAService team. It’s awesome to see young college kids, eager to learn about what we’re doing, really try their hardest to contribute and change the way things are done here at STELLAService.
We recently brought on three new interns to join the STELLAService team! One of our new rockstar interns wrote an incredible cover letter and I wanted to share with everyone.
I am writing to express my interest in the summer internship position at STELLAService. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you an experience in customer relations that had a profound role in shaping my views on business, sales, and service.
For two summers I worked as a clerk at an independent bookshop in Sag Harbor, New York. While my nominal duties were to work the cash register, customer service was an integral part of my daily routine as well as our business mantra. The store’s owners understood that their prices could never compete with the likes of Barnes & Noble or Borders, to say nothing of online vendors, but that customers were willing to spend a little more in return for knowledgeable and friendly service. We sought to make our customers’ book buying experience the antithesis of shopping at a large chain store and, to that end, we were instructed to warmly greet everyone in the store, recognize regular patrons and their preferences, make strong recommendations, and alert shoppers to in-house readings by authors. All prospective employees were required to take exams on literature prior to even being considered for the job and a variety of programs encouraged us to read new novels in order to keep up with our customers’ questions and tastes. The management insisted on not only a high level of literary knowledge, but also relied on us to create a congenial atmosphere. Aware that some may find a bookstore daunting, we strove to be approachable for advice and guidance.
Expertise and a feeling of welcome brought customers back month after month, despite the fact many of our patrons lived in communities that had access to less expensive, corporate book vendors. This taught me that people are willing to pay a little extra for excellent customer service. In an age when online competition has driven prices to near uniformity, a record of strong service can be the distinguishing factor in a customer’s decision to buy your product.
I believe this lesson is very applicable to the work that is done at STELLAService. In addition, I feel that I would be a strong candidate for this position because of my ability to identify needs, successfully multi-task, and rise to challenges. I’ve spent the past year honing my analytical skills at Vassar College where I received distinguished grades. I’m confident that I would make a beneficial contribution to your team.
Attached is a resume outlining my qualifications and achievements. Letters of recommendation as well as academic grades are available upon request. I look forward to speaking with you and discussing further options.
SENSAI STELLA INTERN!!!!
I found this to be an incredible summary of what we’re trying to achieve here at STELLAService. The e-commerce landscape is filled with companies just like the independent bookshop in Sag Harbor and we want customers to find those sites. We are evaluating a large spectrum of the e-commerce landscape because we understand that you don’t have to be a giant multi-million dollar shop to bring a great experience to your shoppers. At the end of the day it’s about being knowledgable about your product, friendly to your customers, and going above and beyond to help their needs.
Share with us your awesome intern stories! We are glad to have three new rockstars on board and it should be an awesome summer!
It’s wedding season! In particular there’s a very important wedding that just took place, and of course I’m talking about William and Kate. Naturally, my morning routine of watching Good Morning America had been infiltrated with coverage of the “Epic Event”.
As part of its coverage, ABC found anyone they could who was attending the wedding and interviewed him/her about useless information. For some reason, I actually paid attention to the interviews last week. Glad I did… One young guy they interviewed was not only the very close Step-2nd Cousin of Prince William, but also happened to be one of the co-founders of Quintessentially, “the world’s leading private members’ club with a global concierge that provides a unique brand of service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” Never hearing of this before, I was intrigued to see what something like that costs. After being made fun of by my “in-the-know” girlfriend for never hearing of Quintessentially, I Googled the company and did some perusing.
Starting at $1,500 a year for a General Membership, plus an additional $300 for joining, I am rewarded with 24-hour access to the world’s finest lifestyle management service. This started to make me think how much people are truly willing to pay for 24-hour service. AMEX Black Card holders must charge a minimum of $150,000 plus an additional $1,000 annual fee for their service. Yes it would be great to have a personal driver to escort me to work, instead of having to bike on the crazy streets of NYC or have someone take out all the brown M&M’s from my bag of candy because I can’t stand brown M&M’s, but I realize that’s not realistic and not necessary.
It’s obvious that not every ordinary person can afford these luxuries, but that doesn’t mean they are banned from extraordinary service. Our mission here at STELLAService is to bring transparency to the online shopping market, and help consumers find the best online shopping experience possible. By ordering a $28 pair of REEF flip flops on ZAPPOS I am rewarded with 24/7 attention, free shipping and returns! Now that’s service. Service I can afford and service that is extraordinary.
So in the coming weeks, I’ll prepare for the biggest wedding of my summer, my older brother’s. And although it won’t be covered by ABC every morning and no famous people will attend, I do know… I will buy my shoes at Zappos because if they don’t look good with the suit I ordered on J.Crew, I can return them for free. I’ll buy a new 3 wood at DiscountGolfWorld.com for the weekend of golf at the Bachelor Party. And order shiny china from Saks as a wedding gift for the newlyweds. I’ll do all this buying online with a smile on my face because I know, thanks to our online ratings, that you don’t have to be in Westminster Abbey to receive the royal treatment.
Working in New York’s Flatiron district has its perks around lunch time – mainly the plethora of delicious places to choose from for lunch. Given the competition, however, it must be super difficult for each sandwich shop to separate and distinguish itself. If I’m looking for a chicken wrap, there are about 50 places in a five block radius that I can go, all offering a similar product at a near identical price.
Like the world of e-commerce, we believe the best way to separate yourself is through WOW customer service!
Today, my co-workers and I were WOW’d by great customer service at The Pump on 17th Street. After telling the cashier that it was my colleague’s first time at The Pump and that I had suggested he try it out, she ensured that the delicious and hefty wrap below – which was made for me quickly and to perfection – was free!
So, where do you think we’ll go next time we want Chicken wraps…?!