Customer Service Around The World


RetailTrack Mystery Shopping just did a reprise of the survey they conducted on Canadian department store retailers in 2011.  The original study, conducted for CBC Marketplace, did not paint a pretty picture - with an overall failing grade of 49%

Things are looking up

The new shops, conducted this past winter, showed a significant 11 point increase.  They now stand at an average 60%

Canadian Tire leads the way

Leading the charge was a dramatic improvement by Canada's iconic Canadian Tire, who jumped from 47% to 73%.

For more details on the study, visit ow.ly/vmv30


Belding Group Customer Service Logo.pngThe Belding Group is a global leader in customer service training, and customer experience consulting and measurement


Leave A Comment


Categories: , , , ,


Should Processes Trump Customer Loyalty?

| No Comments

sheraton.jpgOver the last 20 years, there has been a huge push on process improvement.  There was the TQM (Total Quality Management) mantra, which preached a stifling discipline of striving for perfection.  Then the Lean movement, which was all about streamlining processes surrounding 'customer value.'  Then, of course, the mother of them all - Jack Welch's cult-like Six Sigma.

Processes have a great appeal in the executive level of most organizations because they are both controllable and quantifiable.  You can put metrics around them.  You can put dollar numbers on things.  You can streamline and better control your costs.  Processes look great on paper.

The problems arise when people start to get excited about the efficiencies to be had with a process,  then manage to convince themselves that those efficiencies are more important than the overall customer experience.  Here's a great personal example involving the hotel industry:

I travel a lot, often spending over 100 nights a year in hotels.  A lot of it is one-night-stands in different places around the world, as I fly in and out for speaking engagements.  There are, however, a few hotels that I find myself in on a fairly regular basis, year after year.  They've become almost a second home.  I know the staff, and most of them know me.  When I show up, I get a genuine warm welcome, and I feel as though I have a great relationship with them.

These hotels work hard at keeping this relationship.  When I call to make a reservation, for example, the employees recognize me.  They know my room preferences. And if I happen to be driving and can't give them a credit card number fo confirm a reservation, I get, "No problem Mr. Belding, I will make sure there is a room when you get here!"  I really get the feeling that they value having me as a customer.

So, why would I ever stay anywhere else?  Ask anyone who travels a lot for a living, and they'll tell you the same thing.  Makes sense right?  The more solid a relationship between a guest and staff, the greater the loyalty will be.  This would strike me as something a company wouldn't want to mess with. Right?  Right?

Wrong.  A couple of days ago, I called the local number of the Four Points Sheraton in St. Catharines, Ontario to make a reservation.  I picked the local number over the toll-free number specifically so that I could connect with someone in the hotel.

When I asked the cheerful front desk person who answered if they had any rooms for the night, her response was, "Absolutely!" followed by, "let me just transfer you to reservations."  And with a click of a button, I was then forwarded on to the Sheraton call centre somewhere in the Southern U.S.

Really?  Did you just do that?  Did you just take a potential opportunity to strenghten a bond with a customer who stays in the area about 25 nights a year, and transfer him to a call centre?

It wasn't the front desk person's fault, of course.  That is the Sheraton process.  Somewhere along the line, someone convinced them that this was a better way to do things than just having  individual hotels do it themselves.  No doubt there were Very Compelling arguments.  Centralized call centres make it easier to ensure that phones are answered in a timely manner.  It's easier to monitor scripting and the sales process.  Most importantly, no doubt, it is likely tremendously cost-efficient.

The compelling thing about those arguments is how easy it is to measure the apparent payoff.  We can point at 'results' and talk about the grand successes in cost recoveries, reduction in labour hours and so on.

But what about the things that are harder to measure?  What about the customers, like me, who now have a little less of a link to that hotel and less of a bond with the staff?  How will this impact my decision process in the future, or the likelihood I will recommend a hotel in the future?  Is the payoff in this process really that much greater than the loyalty that is created by the people? And that's the real question, isn't it?

The people who would defend the process will refer to the Very Clever IVR systems these days that can 'seamlessly' transfer customers back and forth between the hotel and the call centre.  They will brag about how most customers won't even realize that this is going on.  Yup, as long as we can fool the customers, they will tell you, then all is well.

They will tell us that their Starwood and other 'loyalty' programs more than compensate for this old-fashioned concept of loyalty.  Do these 'loyalty' programs work?  Absolutely.  Until, that is, one of your competitors comes in with a better deal or a better offer.

Don't get me wrong.  Outstanding, well-thought-out processes are vital to creating a world-class customer experience.  But as a general rule of thumb, I'm not convinced that any organization should ever entertain a process that negatively impacts its ability to create stronger relationships with customers.  

Be careful of the lure of bright, shiny Big Data metrics.  Beware the rationalizations that cause us to stop looking at customers as individuals, and the individual relationships we need to have with them.  Ask yourself every day, "What reason does Mr. or Mrs. Smith have to be loyal to us?"


Leave A Comment


Categories: , , , ,


Lessons in Compassion From an NHL Star

| No Comments

spezza.jpgA few weeks ago, I highlighted a great piece about Bill Gates.(http://customerservicearoundtheworld.com/2014/02/its-not-customer-service-but-well-maybe-it-is.html)

It wasn't a traditional customer service story, but it was a fantastic illustration of the principles. Well, here's another one - from a very unlikely source.  Here's the story:

There is a very sick young man named Justin in St. Vincent hospital in Ottawa who had a picture autographed by two members of the Ottawa Senators - Ottawa's National Hockey League franchise.  The signees were Captain Jason Spezza and star defenseman Erik Karlsson.  The picture, which he treasured, was stolen out of his car this week by some callous loser.  His mother wasn't sure how to break it to him.

When Jason Spezza heard the story, he took action immediately.  He recorded a personal video message, then sent it to Justin, along with a team-signed jersey and new autographed pictures.  Needless to say, Justin and his family were thrilled.  It was a happy ending. (here's the full story: http://www.ottawasun.com/2014/03/13/ottawa-senators-captain-jason-spezza-shows-his-softer-side)

So ask yourself - what is the likelihood that the Senators now have at least one guaranteed fan for life?  Pretty likely, I would think.  Now ask yourself, what was it that made this gesture so meaningful?  The answer, of course, is the clear message to Justin that the Ottawa Senators genuinely care about him.

It's a wonderful story, and one I think we can all learn from. 

As an aside, I should point out that this is not the first time captain Jason Spezza has done something like this.  In addition to being one of the most skilled hockey players in the world, he is also one of the most compassionate.  This makes him a leader in every sense of the word. 

Hockey fans in the City of Ottawa can sometimes be pretty harsh, and unfair, on their star players - and Spezza has had an undeservedly disproportionate share of criticism in his career here.  One thing they can't criticize, though, is his character.  And ultimately, when push comes to shove, what else is more important?


Leave A Comment


Categories:


The Formula For Customer Service Training

| No Comments

The following article is reproduced from Winning at Work:

IMG_0265.JPGDelivering great customer experience used to be a 'nice-to-have' in the business world. From time to time it would drift into the conversation at executive levels, but would just as quickly drift away as the topics changed to more 'serious' things like creating efficiencies, meeting revenue targets and other, more easily measurable, operational things.

This, of course, has changed. Ensuring positive customer experiences is no longer an optional part of a business model. It is now basic table stakes for companies that want to stay in the game. Those who haven't figured it out yet are watching their business slowly erode, with no clue as to why it's happening. Some very notable ones may already be past the point of no return.

There are several controllable components of customer experience, but none are more important than the human element: Customer Service. Great customer service experiences increase customer loyalty, reduce customer churn, increase employee retention and decrease escalations of issues. A skilled service provider can compensate for a myriad of process and policy failures. One single unskilled one can have catastrophic implications in a world where global word-of-mouth is a mouse-click away.

Most people now realize that customer service is more than just 'common sense.' It is a skill, with a lot of moving parts. And, like any skill, it requires continuous training and focus to be at the top of one's game. So, what should a customer service training program include? Here is the recipe:

1. Clearly defined needs
Why are you thinking of the training? Where are the gaps? What is the outcome you want? Just saying you want to 'take it to the next level' isn't good enough.

2. Clearly defined skills
Based on a solid assessment, what are the specific skills that will fill the gaps in performance? Those are what the training should focus on - nothing else.

3. Design that is engaging, meaningful and appropriate
Is it designed to appeal to adults, or to school-kids? (Too often, the latter is the case). Are the examples and solutions specific to the workplace, or are they too general to be applied? Is it an interactive format? If it is less than 75% interactive exercises, it will fail.

4. Design that creates 'ah-ha!' moments
Traditional training design techniques don't work in customer service training. Because everyone already has preconceived ideas about customer service, you have to build in tricks, traps and surprises to facilitate buy-in to new skills.

5. Organization-wide participation
If the Regional Manager or Vice-President won't participate, you might as well not even bother with the training. How can they champion behaviours that they haven't seen? The single, most common comment in customer service training is, "our management needs to go through this."

6. Respect for participant skills and knowledge
A great number of people who train customer service come across as condescending and maybe a little preachy. This is because they neglect to acknowledge and leverage the experience in the room. Yes, you might need to remind people of the importance of smiling, but you don't want to present it as though this is news to anyone. This is a critical training skill that a lot of trainers unfortunately don't have.

7. A passionate trainer
A big component of customer service is attitude. If the trainer isn't truly passionate, he/she will never get people to buy into the skills.

8. A subject matter expert
There is a belief in the training & development world that a professional trainer should be able to deliver anything. But delivering on a topic in which everyone in the audience already considers themselves an expert requires a lot of confidence and credibility. Trainers need to go beyond the leaders guide and really become immersed in the subject matter.

9. Time to practice
Theory isn't good enough. In order to move from theory to application in the workplace, there needs to be time to practice. Role-playing, skits, demonstrations are critical.

10. Motivational energy
If a customer service training program doesn't have people walking out of the door excited, it's not going to stick.

11. Relentless support
The real key to stickiness is what happens after the training. You need to make sure that there is are processes and people in place to actually measure and support the change. Don't leave it to chance!

Whatever you do, don't leave a customer service training program to chance. If you're going to commit the valuable time of your team to attend the program, make it count.


Belding Group Customer Service Logo.pngThe Belding Group is a global leader in customer service training, and customer experience consulting and measurement.


Leave A Comment


Categories: , , , ,


westjet.pngApparently, WestJet doesn't need to improve - they just need smarter customers.

That was the message I got this morning when I questioned why it was going to take up to 6 weeks for a copy of a receipt for a flight I took 2 1/2 months ago.  Here's the story:

I realized I needed a supporting copy of the receipt for a flight I took in early December.  No problem, I thought.  I diligently save my emails from the airlines I fly.  Sure enough, 30 seconds later, I found the email with the itinerary - but it only had the flights on it, not the actual dollars spent.  There was a link, though, to a place where I could download it.  The caveat, to my dismay, was that the link to my receipt had only been available for 8 days following the flight.  Dang.

Was I worried?  Not at all.  Since its inception 18 years ago, WestJet has built its business on providing a superior customer experience.  This was going to be a breeze I thought.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

When I explained the situation to the young lady in their call centre, she told me that all I had to do was click on the email link, and it would take me to my receipt.  When I said, "I thought it was only good for 8 days," she replied, "Oh, this is for an earlier flight?" (I had already told her the flight dates, but she hadn't really been listening).  She then told me that I should have read my email more carefully, and there was nothing she could do.  "Well," she said in retrospect, "there is a form I can fill out and submit, but it's going to be about 6 weeks for you to get it."

Six weeks?  Really?

After I gave her all of the information to fill out the form, I said, "Could you do me a favour? If you have the ability to raise comments or concerns on your system, can you pass on that this is really a nasty process, and that WestJet might want to look into it?"

Her response floored me.  "Sir, we do provide you with a receipt," she scolded.  "You just have to take more care in reading your emails."

Yes, I am clearly an idiot.  But it gets better.

I responded by saying, "Yes, I understand this is all the customer's fault (she missed the gentle sarcasm).  But, you know, in our business, if a customer calls and asks for a copy of a bill we had sent them 8 years ago, we could have it to them in three minutes.  I just think this is a process WestJet could work on."

Her answer?  "I don't know anything about your business, sir, but WestJet is a very large international company with hundreds of thousands of customers.  We can't just have reciepts available if everybody starts calling and asking for them."

Yikes.  The message?  'You're just a little, insignificant customer - and it's best you remember that.'  In her mind, there was absolutely no reason for revisiting or changing processes.  It would just be easier to have smarter customers.

The point of this blog post, of course, isn't about the receipt itself.  It's about attitude.

This isn't the first time in the last little while I have gotten this underlying message in my dealings with WestJet.  And maybe if it were any other company, I wouldn't be so surprised.  But that's not the way it used to be.  This airline used to be held up as a model for customer experience - along with their US mentor, Southwest Airlines, and Disney, and Four Seasons, etc.  It used to be when you reached their call centre, you got cheerful, helpful people who were skilled in dealing with customers.  I would imagine that ten years ago, the response to my suggestion about improving the process would have been met with a cheerful something like, "I sure can understand your frustration, Mr. Belding.  I will absolutely pass this on!  Your comments are very important to us."

But I'm really starting to wonder if WestJet hasn't maybe lost their edge and their focus.  I'm certainly seeing the difference in their call centres.  I'm wondering if they have just gotten too big, started to believe their own press, and gotten a little complacent.  It wouldn't be the first time that a company was so convinced of their superiority that they abandoned the quest to get better.

Um, and, oh WestJet, for the record, it just takes Air Canada, your biggest competitor, 7 days to provide a receipt....


Leave A Comment


Categories: , , , ,


bill and melinda gates.jpgThe foundation for delivering World-Class customer service really is pretty simple.  It's all about caring.  At its very essence,  the more your customers believe that you care - and that they are important to you - the more positively they will perceive their customer service experience.  Yes, I understand that some people want to try and make it sound more complex than that, but folks, it really isn't.

One of my greatest role models for this philosophy, interestingly, isn't actually in a "customer service" role - maybe never has been.  Bill Gates is best known as one of the most successful entrepreneurs the world has ever known.  But more recently, over the last decade, he and his wife Melinda (another of my role models) have made it their mission to make the world a better place.  To fight horrible diseases such as aids and polio, reduce child mortality, and end poverty.  They have helped save tens of thousands of lives.

No, it's not about caring about customers, where there is an implicit quid-pro-quo, but it is caring about people - and the principles are no different.

The more I'm learning about the things Bill & Melinda Gates have been doing over the last decade, the more inspired I am.  Their battles aren't won, but the world is truly better than it was. (I know sometimes it doesn't feel that way, but this is pretty compelling: http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/?cid=bg_gn_ll0_012023

No global change happens overnight. Although we tend to remember the more pivotal moments in their lives, people like King, Mandela, Ghandi, etc. made their difference over many years of commitment and focus. I believe Mr. & Ms. Gates are in the same category. Today, Bill Gates is best known as the founder of Microsoft - which in its own way changed the world. Future generations, I believe, will know he and his wife as visionaries who believed that the world can indeed be a better place if we all just step up and do something.

Thank you Bill & Melinda, for your inspiration!


Leave A Comment


Categories: , ,


Creating a customer-focused experience isn't easy.  Here is an excerpt from our latest Winning At Work Newsletter that outlines the 7 steps for making it happen:

The conversation surrounding customer experience has changed significantly over the last 5 years.  No longer are organizations debating the importance of customer experience in their ongoing success.  Most have embraced the reality that consistent positive customer experience is now basic table stakes in today's marketplace.  The direct correlation between the degree and consistency of customer experience and an organization's performance is irrefutable.

The big questions people are asking now, however, are the more important and more difficult: "How do we get there?"  "How do we change our culture?"  "How do we shift how customers perceive us?"  "How do we create permanent change in employees' attitudes and behaviours?"  "What needs to happen so that this is embedded into our DNA?"

These are tough questions.  And because most people don't fully appreciate how daunting a culture-change undertaking really is, few actually spend enough time or thought answering them.  Nor do most organizations really fully commit to reinventing themselves.  The inevitable, and most common, result is that change doesn't happen or doesn't stick; investments in time and money show no return; promises are broken and objectives remain unmet.   

Those companies who are successful in transforming themselves do so  with a combination of solid planning, absolute commitment and patience.  When you study them, you will find a common six-step process.  For those of you looking to change your culture, here it is:

1.  Define It
Clearly define what World-Class customer experience is for your organization.  What does it look like and feel like?  What is the vision?  Create a customer journey map.  Identify all of your core customer touchpoints, and exactly what has to happen in each. 

2.  Communicate It
Make sure that everybody in your organization, from the highest executive to the most part-time employee, understands the company's objectives, their roles and the expectations you have of them.  This involves consistent messaging throughout the organization.

3.  Tool-Up
Make sure your company has all the tools - both physical and intellectual - it needs to execute the plan. Training is critical... (To see the full text, visit the Winning at Work site.)

 


Leave A Comment


Categories: , , ,


I've spent the better part of a month in the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten/Saint-Maarten over the past year.   The small island is actually shared by two countries.  Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Netherlands, and Saint-Martin is a territory (technically an 'overseas collective') of France.

It's remarkable how an island, roughly the size of Orlando Florida, can have two such dramatically different cultures.  While both share the same distinctive Caribbean overtones, the influence of the French and Dutch are instantly apparent the moment you cross from one side to the other.  From the visceral, emotive attitudes on the French side to the more practical, blunt approaches on the Dutch side.

Sint-Maarten-customer service.jpgMost of my time has been spent on the Dutch side in the capital city of Philipsburg.  Like so many Caribbean islands, tourism on St. Maarten is really their only industry of significance. My hotel looks out over the harbour and the never-ending procession of cruise ships and their passengers.  The numbers of tourists in the high season are staggering.  I've seen as many as 5 cruise ships docked, but have heard that the number can be as high as nine.  That would be over 30,000 people descending on the island - close to a 50% increase in population.

With the importance of tourism to the economy, customer service, one would think, would be at the top of everyone's to-do list.  So you can understand my surprise to discover how very inconsistent it is here. 

The best places for customer service on the island appear to be the tourist hubs of Maho and Simpsons Bay in St. Maarten.  On the French side, it's the waterfront at Marigot and the restaurant strip in Grand-Case.  Generally speaking, the French have a very very large edge when it comes to customer service here.

Philipsburg, the capital city, is where the cruise ships dock.  It features a long beach, and a boardwalk lined with restaurants, Segway rentals and beach chairs.  Paralleling it is Front St., with endless jewellery stores, Duty Free stores and general tourist stuff.  One would expect some pretty exceptional customer experiences here too, but alas, they are few and far between.

With the exception of a couple of larger restaurants, such as Greenhouse,Chesterfields and the Hard Rock Cafe; and a couple of hotels like the Sonesta Beach Club and Holland House (there is a server here named Jessie who is oustanding), it is a pretty dismal customer experience.  There seemed to be two extremes.  On the one hand, there were the hyper-aggressive salespeople in the jewellery stores who made you afraid to even glance at an item for fear they would notice and start thrusting it in your hand.  On the other hand and, more commonly, there were the bored, disinterested and uncaring employees working the restaurants and bars.  Oh, sure, there were occasional exceptions, but for the most part you got the feeling that you were more of an intruder than a customer.  One waitress actually rolled her eyes at us twice.  Once when I asked to see a food menu, and again when my wife asked if they had lemonade or iced tea.

This two km stretch of beach is a case study in customer service.  The places that are the busiest are also the ones with markedly better customer service.  I don't think it's a coincidence. 


Leave A Comment


Categories: , , ,


Customer service in The Philippines

| No Comments

I just spent a week in Manila.  More properly, perhaps, I was in Makati City - one of the 16 cities that makes up 'Metro Manila'.  Never having been to the Philippines before, I had no idea what to expect.  And with the devastating typhoon that tore through the country just two weeks earlier, I wasn't even sure if I would really get to see things in their 'normal' state.

 

As it turns out, the typhoon, while unfathomably powerful, did most of its damage in the middle of the Philippines.  It is a long, stretched out country consisting of over 7,000 islands.  Tacloban, in the centre, caught the brunt of it, and left the country's capital and nerve centre - Manila (in the north), and the country's famous Southern vacation spot, Sibu, virtually untouched.

 

Makati City is the prominent business district, and if it were all one ever saw about the Philippines, the impression would be of a very wealthy country.  Shopping everywhere - including the massive Greenbelt complex (which is dwarfed by Manila's astonishingly huge EDSA Mall.).  It's not cheap, by the way.  Once you do the conversion (about 40 pesos to the dollar), prices are pretty comparable to Canada.  Because I was working, I did not have a lot of opportunity to leave Makati, but those times I did painted a stark picture of contrast.  A scant 8 block walk from my hotel, I was in an area where people slept in the streets, under makeshift lean-tos, on top of concrete walls surrounding churches.  The roads were littered and you could smell the dirt and decay.  One area was an intricate shanty town with hundreds of linked tin-roofed structures, maybe 60-100 sq. ft. each.  A very different life than I can imagine.  It's not the absence of money that is the issue - but the absence of opportunity and hope.  I've said this before, and I will say it again - true poverty simply doesn't exist in Canada or the United States.

 

One of the cool things about the Philippines, is that everyone speaks English - so the communication challenges are minimal.  They have their own language, of course - Tagalog - but there is an equal fluency in English.  The people here are gentle, and concepts such as customer service come naturally to them. (The standing joke I heard was that 'no' isn't in the Filipino lexicon - but that there are 3 types of yeses.  A slow yes means they understand.  A fast yes means they have no clue, and a 'yes-yes-yes' means they weren't listening in the first place).  It is a predominantly Christian country, and relatively conservative in dress and behaviour.

 

My hotel, the Makati City Hotel,was a 5 Star hotel, with service levels that would be off the charts in Canada.  Despite its size, it seemed that everyone knew my name.  At one point during dinner, I began to get the feeling that I understood what a rock star must feel like - almost too much attention.  I'm pretty confident, though, that at least some of the tremendous friendliness - both inside and outside of the hotel - was largely a reflection of my skin colour.  (Being born white is a huge, sometimes unfair, advantage that most of us take for granted.).  When I had the opportunity to step outside of the tourist and high-end shopping areas, I got a sense that Filipinos didn't always extend the same courtesies to their fellow Filipinos, but even so there is a kindness that one doesn't see everywhere.  It really is a gracious culture. 

 

Filipinos don't take things for granted, and are extremely appreciative of the things they do have or receive.  The first three people I met in the country, after finding out I was Canadian, instantly said thank you for all of our country's support for the tragedy in Tacloban City.  They were quite earnest, and very touched with the support from half a planet away.  They feel the same about the Americans.

 

jeepney.jpgSpeaking of Americans, they truly left their mark here.  After WW2, they left behind a whole mess of Jeeps.  The Filipinos, ever industrious, converted them into larger bus-like things called 'Jeepneys' that became the popular transportation mode - and now a real symbol of the Philippines.

 

The Philippines is an emerging nation.  I think that a combination of greater education, health care and opportunity is all they need.  The country has really been focusing on technology infrastructure, which is already starting to pay off.  They have overtaken India as the #1 place for call centres, and they are still growing in this regard.  Their unique culture sets them up well for these customer-focused industries.

 

I hope I have the opportunity to come back.  I have the very strong sense that I have only scratched the surface of a really interesting place


Leave A Comment


Categories: , ,


Thumbnail image for 42-15140715.jpgHere's a look at three retailers visited this week, and how their customer service looks for the upcoming 4th quarter:

Canadian Tire

It's still wait-and-see, but it may be 'three strikes and you're out' for me and Canadian Tire.

Over the last three years, I've had problems with three different products purchased at Canadian Tire.  This, on its own, isn't a big issue.  After all, they don't make the products, they just sell them.  The issue is trying to get some customer satisfaction.  So far, I'm 0-for-3.  Once was because i didn't have a receipt.  Once was because it (a water cooler) broke beyond a 90 day warranty period.  The current one is because the hand-held Dyson vacuum cleaner we purchased ...well...sucked...   After striking out with customer service, I reached out to the top - to the store owner.  He has promised to get back to me, but that was a week ago.  We'll see what happens, but I'm not holding out much hope.  If nothing happens, it will be the last time I set foot in a Canadian Tire.  There are too many other choices out there to deal with an organization that doesn't care.

I'm guessing I would normally spend somewhere around $500-$700 a year in this store.  How much is it going to cost them to lose me for the next 20 years I'm in their demographic? 

Best Buy

I knew what I wanted to buy, but had a few questions.  Nobody at Best Buy, unfortunately, wanted to answer them.  I counted over a dozen employees - most in groups talking with one another - in the store that was near empty of customers.  Not one person approached me, or even looked my way.  I spent a good 15 minutes in the department looking at merchandise and reading the information on the boxes.  I suppose I could have gone over to one of the employee social circles and begged for help, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, so I left. 

Interestingly, when I mentioned this experience to the people in our office, one of my colleagues remarked, "I had the exact same experience last week!"

I wonder how many people do the same thing in this store every day?  I wonder what their real potential for sales is?

Wal*Mart

Every time I go into Wal*Mart, I'm reminded why they are the most successful retailer on the planet.  This thought is quickly followed by me asking myself why I just don't shop there more often.  I got what I had originally gone to Best Buy for, and was even helped by a pleasant young man in the electronics department.  As I went through the checkout, it dawned on me that I have never had a challenge returning or exchanging anything in this store.

Wal*Mart has hung its hat on being the most customer-friendly department store out there.  Their stores are bright, clean and easy to navigate.  Their product lines are good, and their pricing strategy is aggressive.  Their customer service levels are at least as good as other mass merchandisers.  The only disappointment (a minor one), is that the "greeters" have pretty consistently forgotten their role.  And it used to be an important one.  Now, they are more like "ignorers", and one would be ard pressed to find a smile.

One of the things I've always said about business, is that it's easy to measure how much money you've made, but very hard to measure how much you've let slip through your fingers.  The daily cash register receipts can't tell you how many frustrated people left a store, or how much a customer might have spent had a caring salesperson spent a little time with him or her.  I believe that the dollar figures for this are many times greater than most retailers realize.  As I mentioned in the last post, one company we worked with measured the impact of a sustained effort on customer engagement, and instantly saw a stunning 40% increase in their profitability.  None of us saw that coming.  Sure we expected to see a change - perhaps 5-10%.  But 40%?

Canadian Tire and Best Buy are examples of companies who look at their sales performance, and have convinced themselves that they're doing pretty good.  I wonder how they'd feel if they suddenly discovered that they were actually 40% below what they could (and should) be?


Leave A Comment


Categories: , , ,



Winning At Work!

Most dictionaries would define bullying as something like: "Using strength or influence to intimidate, or force someone to do something". Wikipedia adds that it is "to gain power over another person." The traditional images of bullying are those of someone being pushed around or verbally abused....


Sign up today for the latest updates direct from Shaun Belding.

Sign Up


Shaun Belding has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share about what it takes to provide world class customer service. Talk to Shaun about your company's needs or invite him to speak at your next function for the perfect mix of fun and information.


RetailTrack Mystery Shopping just did a reprise of the survey they conducted on Canadian department store retailers in 2011. The original study, conducted for CBC Marketplace, did not paint a pretty picture - with an overall failing grade of 49% Things are looking up The new...



e-Store

Book Cover
Find out about the great range of books available from the BeldingSkills.com e-Store.











Recent Assets

  • sheraton.jpg
  • spezza.jpg
  • Belding Group Customer Service Logo.png
  • IMG_0265.JPG
  • participant_role-play.jpg
  • westjet.png
  • bill and melinda gates.jpg
  • Sint-Maarten-customer service.jpg
  • jeepney.jpg
  • 42-15140715.jpg