Customer Service and the Experience Economy

Having recently moved, my new housemate came home the other day after a failed shopping mission to purchase a clip for the washing machine hose. On approaching a sales person, she was informed that the man that knew where that item was located had gone home. No further attempt by one of the remaining fifteen or so staff on the floor was made to assist her further. I was incredulous, and not just because the hose is still duct taped to the inside of the laundry sink.


With the considerable increase in overseas exports and many businesses now operating largely online, customer service is more important than ever. Consumers know what they want and with the click of a button they can research product and price, placing them firmly in control. Australian based speaker, consultant and author of Retail Revival Amanda Stevens calls our current climate “an experience economy.” In this experience economy,  “consumers are seeking more than just the lowest price or the biggest brand. The consumers wish list and expectations are more extensive than they were a few years ago. The good news is, when their wishes and expectations are met, or exceeded, they’ll gladly become a walking advertisement for your brand.”


That, my friends, is exactly what you want. Think about it. As a consumer yourself, what entices you to shop where you do? How many times have you shaken your head in bewilderment as you exited that store after a particularly lousy experience?


I once had a girl ask me if I wanted a bag for my purchases. It was 2 shopping baskets full of supplies for a party I was throwing. Where did she think I was going to put it all? My pockets? When I said yes, that it would be helpful, she was disgruntled at what appeared to be an extraordinary request! We all have these stories. Which is why even satisfactory service should no longer be the benchmark. Never, have I ever, said to a friend “I went to the supermarket. The service met my requirements.”


But if there was so much as a hint of poor service, oh, we women like to talk about it! That poor sales girl might not have said anything but we will pick up on the ‘vibe’ that we’ve interrupted her day by wanting to make a purchase and we will tell all our friends about it over coffee! Extraordinary service then becomes something we marvel at, sadly because it is so rare. Let me assure you that in this experience economy, it’s what can lift your sales and win back your customers encouraging repeat visitation.


Don’t mistake me, there are many reasons sales could be declining or remaining stagnant but let’s start with the face of your business: You and your employees! Here’s three quick tips to get you thinking!


1. Do you know what your customer base looks like? Does your team know? Knowing who your customer is and their shopping habits & needs is so important. Any form of marketing specifically targeting your demographic then becomes far more effective than a general campaign or advertisement aimed at “men and women aged 0 to 100.”


2. Find out what your customer thinks. This isn’t easy as we can tend to shy away from negative comments but if the general consensus is that you have good food but the service is slow, then address it. If the feedback is that what you have is good quality but your range isn’t extensive enough, then research it. Don’t take advantage of a customers goodwill. There is only so long they will tolerate it.


3. Be committed to growing and evolving with the times. For example, find out how your business can tap into the online world rather than allowing ‘the unknown’ to steal your market share. Fight for your business!


Want to know more about how you can run a health check on your business or inspire your staff to deliver exceptional customer service? I’d love to hear from you!