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The Washington Post reports that a study done by the University of Michigan Business School suggests that Americans are thoroughly disenchanted with customer service levels in the US.

The average score for complaint handling, according to the survey, is 57 (out of 100) - not a very good score. Local telephone companies got the lowest score…but supermarkets, in fact, got the highest, at 76 points.

The biggest problem seems to be that customer service has gotten so bad in the US that it is driving people away. Part of the issue - as retailers have sought to reduce labor costs and increase efficiency, customer service inevitably took the biggest hit in the budget cutting.

Ronald C. Goodstein, a professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, told the Post that research suggests that 40 percent of customers desert companies because of poor service.
KC's View:
Here's the deal. If you are a retailer and you really believe that customer service isn’t the most critical part of your business, then you immediately should order and read Feargal Quinn's "Crowning The Customer." (You can get it from Raphel Marketing at www.raphel.com, or from Amazon.com…and we're not just suggesting this because we had the opportunity this week to spend time with both Feargal and Eamonn Quinn, and to walk their extraordinary stores.)

If, after reading this primer on customer service, you still feel that this is a low priority, we'd suggest you make plans for retirement. Sell the business, close it down, divvy up the money to the family or the shareholders…just get out.

Because the retailing business is the service business…no matter what kind of store you operate and what demographic you serve.

If you believe you are just in the business of buying product, getting slotting allowances, and then selling product - without being connected to the needs and desires of the shopper - then you are a fool. And it is no wonder that you’re losing market share and the respect and loyalty of your customer base.