Have you ever felt intimidated to enter certain stores in a shopping mall, by “certain stores” I mean those swanky shops that sell designer clothing and bags, computer shops or even mobile phone stores.
If so, you’d probably choose to enter the shop when it isn’t crowded, or you’d rather not go in at all, because you probably feel that you might be the center of attention and you have to avoid the sales assistants who hover and follow you around from the moment you enter until you leave the store.
As a tech writer, and I’m blessed with opportunities of being invited to different types of events, such as launch of mobile apps, laptops, phones, exclusive interviews with public figure, and so on. I was invited by a mobile phone company two weeks ago to attend their phone launch plus product demonstration, let’s call them Company X.
The event was not grand, but their new phone impressed me. Since I had limited time to play with the phone during the event itself, I decided to visit a Company X outlet after work. Even though the phone is an impressive flagship device, I was absolutely disappointed with their customer service.
“Just looking around, if I need anything I will let you know.”
A staff assistant approached me. “Hi, what are you looking for?” he said. I “pushed him away” by saying the sentence above. But he was persistent.
He continuously tried to promote a different product to me, asked me what kind of phone I was looking for, whether I wanted a phone that can take good pictures or support two SIM cards. “I’m not looking for anything in particular,” I replied.
Feeling disappointed, I suppose, the sale assistant handed me a brochure, pointed outside of the store and said, “Okay, if you’re just looking.”
Lack of product knowledge
Feeling upset by his lack of service etiquette, before I left I shot him a question, “Why are Company X’s phones so expensive when it is made in China?” He replied “Your TV is made in China, your iPhone is also made in China, why don’t you question that?”
Employees = Brand Advocate
Selling a product is no longer only about how good your product is, but also about the service you provide. Take a look at the mushrooming amount of cafés in neighbourhoods. People who flock to these cafés are willingly to pay RM10 and above for that fancy-crafted coffee art when the cost price of the coffee isn’t even more than RM3.
It’s simple, they are paying for the experience, such as the hipster indie music, dim lightning, cute baristas, and of course, the friendly and welcoming service.
Does your company’s customer service reflect your brand?
A big yes, in my opinion.
Once we enter a store, most of the time, customer service from the employees are the first contact we have. Go to Sushi King or Sakae Sushi, you will be greeted by the sushi chefs who say “ee-ra-shy-ma-say”. In Starbucks, the barista will greet you with “Welcome to Starbucks! My name is XXX!” Even fashion stores like Uniqlo is famous for their overly used greeting “Welcome to Uniqlo” for every customer who enters the store.
In fact, The Conference Board CEO Challenge 2015 revealed earlier this year that 1 of the top 5 challenges for businesses is customer relationship. According to this article, the author asked a successful man on why his companies continued to earn top customer service awards year after year, he quoted:
“Hire for attitude, train for skills.”
“An “inside-out” employer brand will prompt optimally-desirable candidates in the talent marketplace to self-select,” as quoted by Ere Media in this article about employment brands. It is crucial to know and understand your own product, hence why most companies have a hiring probation period. Apart from that, good customer service is important to a company’s success, you may not be able to speak fluent English, but politeness shouldn’t be neglected.
The front liners of your brand is always the sales assistants, if you provide a good experience, it can make us a lifelong fans of your product, but a bad experience can turn potential customers right off, or worst, we put you in our blacklist.
What happened after that?
I wrote a complaint letter and sent to them via email. One week later, the upper management gave me a call and asked me to describe the sale assistant. Following that, they identified the sale assistant and he was given a warning letter. Company X apologised, and they also offered me a gift as a token of appreciation.
I was impressed because they took this incident seriously. Despite being disappointed with their service, at least they were able to restore my confidence towards them via their management service.