Visit us on Facebook!
Visit us at STELLAService.com
Call us: (212) 366-1483
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email us: email@example.com
Watching out for consumers, Asa asks STELLAService about buying a Halloween costume online and how to identify the best sites when it comes to customer service.
Check out our previous post if you’re still in the market for a Halloween costume and don’t have time to get to a store…just a couple days left, so make sure you purchase from the best!
It’s easy (and quite common) to take frustration out on the customer service rep who isn’t fixing your problem or addressing your issue. We’ve all done it, been rude or short with an employee of a company that is causing us a headache. But it never seems to get people anywhere really, and it makes sense why. The person on the other end of the line is a also a human being (most of the time) and it’s important not to forget to treat them with respect just as you would anyone else. Who wants to help someone out who is being a jerk?
A few tips from an 18-year customer service rep were highlighted in this article on how to make the best of a situation when you need someone’s help over the phone. Bottom line, treat the person with respect, even if you are a bit upset about the wrong sneakers arriving in the mail. Odds are the experience for both parties will be much more enjoyable and you’ll feel better about it too.
In NYC, I have grown to expect the expensive costs of dining-out, entertainment, and rent, but one thing I do not have to splurge on is flowers. A few days ago, I was buying flowers for Mother’s Day and there were two bodegas diagonally across the street from one another. Each store had your usual roses dyed in unnatural colors, pre-mixed bouquets, and chicken-scratch price tags. A quick glance revealed the prices were nearly identical as well.
So how do I decide from which bodega to purchase the flowers?
Idea 1: Bargain shop for the cheapest flowers. Count stems, petals, etc. to make sure I’m getting the best deal. I should save on something that’s going to die in a few days anyway, right? Come to the conclusion that price is a wash (also, Mom might be reading and I don’t want her to think price matters when it comes to her!)
Idea 2: Choose the bodega with the coolest, most unique-looking flowers. A bunch of electric blue orchids caught my eye, as did a spiky, artichoke-looking plant (which reminds me-whoever picked up an artichoke and decided it was something humans should eat deserves a culinary Nobel Prize). Decide neon-colored hydrangeas might look cool but Mom might disagree.
Idea 3: Determine which store has the best quality flowers. Realize quality amongst the two bodegas is nearly identical with the minimal flower knowledge I possess.
Idea 4: Select the bodega with the shortest line. Spend 30 seconds waffeling about which line is the shortest. Conclude time spent waffeling is longer than the little time I’d wait at either bodega.
The clerk of bodega A recommended potted tulips since I could put them on the table of the brunch I was attending. He said the flowers would continue to bloom over the next few days and he told me the suggested sunlight exposure and how often they should be watered. This helped make my decision and I arrived at the restaurant armed with not only a floral gift, but also knowledge of how to take care of the botanical flair.
In my flower excursion, the main service component that was key to my decision was the power of knowledge that the bodega clerk shared with me. He wasn’t pushy in any way and I wouldn’t even consider him a salesman, but rather a customer service-oriented possessor of floral knowledge that enabled him to help me make an informed purchase decision.
Do you ever pick up floral knowledge along with your bodega flowers? Or do you prefer your local florist?
While it’s good to see American Express picking up the slack for retailers’ weak returns policies, it shouldn’t have to come to this (Amex will provide a full refund for items purchased on the Web up to 180 days from the date of purchase):
Companies of all shapes and sizes (and especially online stores) have the opportunity to connect with us as consumers by providing great customer service – truly being there for us when we need them. However, it appears there’s a critical mass of online stores missing the boat!
I have a feeling American Express did their research and made a calculated move to become the surrogate-customer-service-provider for online shoppers unsatisfied with their current returns experiences. What a shame for all the e-retailers out there who are now sending us somewhere else for customer service…how exactly does that play into the whole “building long-term loyalty with customers” strategy?
When a company fails to meet market demands for a certain kind of customer service (in this case the time-frame to return a product), we’re forced to go elsewhere to get the kind of experience we want (and apparently will even pay for!). Seems crazy to me that companies would spend millions of dollars to get us to visit their stores (which they do) and hopefully get us comfortable enough to buy (which they sometimes do), just so they can send us away to a big name brand we already trust (Amex) to take care of our returns.
If I ran an online store with a return window of 30 – or even 90 – days, I’d spend the ten seconds this morning to update that number to at least 180 days. Those ten seconds could bring $10 million in lifetime sales back to a business by simply giving shoppers what they want – a flexible and consumer-friendly return policy.
Everyone needs help once in awhile. When you contact a company about a question or an issue, you enter this realm. You’re looking for an answer, and your fingers are crossed that the person who answers on the other end has one. But sometimes they need help too, (everyone, remember?) so they may need to pass you along to a co-worker or manager that can handle your needs better. It’s during this hand-off where there seems to be giant room for improving service across all companies. You just explained yourself to the first person reached, you may have a detailed story with layers of complexity that led you to needing help. Now you’re speaking to the second person, and it’s the dreaded “broken record” scenario. Same account or order information needed, same story told.
This is an area where companies can differentiate themselves, improving the customer experience substantially. Nobody likes repeating themselves, especially when they’re describing a problem. The best companies don’t work in silos, they pass along information to other colleagues when it’s needed to speed up issue resolution times. This is efficient and pain-free as possible for the customer. Great service isn’t just about issue resolution, it’s about issue resolution while not wasting your customer’s time.