Retail Reflections

Give Me A Break From Poor Service

Give Me A Break From Poor Service

Service, who needs it? Well, if you’re Novak Djokovich or Rafa Nadal, it’s fairly fundamental to your job, However, it increasingly seems that more and more brands think that serving well is somehow optional. And that’s a worry, because just when we need the best service ever, we’re on the receiving end of some rank horror shows.

The airlines are probably the worst offenders of this new trend, closely followed by the energy companies. But even they don’t hold a monopoly on duffing one into the net.

Because at the moment, it feels like just about every consumer facing organisation on the planet is doing its level best to deliver average at best levels of service. And the hackneyed phrase, “Because of Covid-19 we are unable to…….” isn’t even used any longer. It’s as if they just don’t care.

One man who might do is the former chief operating officer of EasyJet, Peter Bellew, who resigned this week amidst the mounting chaos of cancelled flights. Or perhaps he knows just how bad it’s become?

Price may not be everything

New research conducted by the Institute of Customer Service suggests that with the cost of living crisis deepening, six out of ten consumers say that low prices will determine where they shop now and for at least the next two years.

However, a third of the 10,000 people surveyed said that they would be prepared to pay more to guarantee good service. And that’s both the rub and the contradiction.

With inflation across many countries threatening to hit double figures and wages lagging far behind, our real income is rapidly dwindling. And that’s having an impact on not just our spending but our buying behaviour.

Because now, more than ever, we not only expect, but demand, great service to accompany value. And as we know, value doesn’t need to mean cheapest. However, what it does need to represent is ‘good value for money’. Let’s face it, regardless of our demographic, we’re all suffering to an extent right now.

Double fault

But let’s take a step back.

For those lucky enough to be aged under forty, they would never have experienced anything like this in their lives. OK, so no-one could have predicted the Covid-19 pandemic, but rampant inflation on the back of it? That didn’t need a crystal ball. However, the twin effects of both are in danger of spoiling the party for an entire generation who, let’s face it, had enough to worry about as it was.

Throw in a global supply chain crisis and a war in Europe and it doesn’t make for easy viewing. In fact it’s more than that, it’s pretty bleak indeed.

Hope springs eternal

Which is exactly why the very opposite should hold true. Because whenever there’s a threat, there’s an opportunity. Now, I’ve never seen a retailer cost cut their way out of a crisis. However, it seems that at times like this, the natural inclination is to act all mollusc like.

But as consumers, we’re not dumb. In fact, we’re completely the opposite. Not only are we smart and savvy, but we have long memories. In times of trouble, we remember those who support us, do the right thing by us. We also remember the average, the mediocre and the downright unacceptable.

So in what really are becoming dark times indeed, let’s remain optimistic that standards of great customer service will return. And that really, properly, meaningfully, putting the customer first will once again not just rebound to pre-pandemic levels, but far exceed them. Because, if we’re to spend our increasingly hard-earned cash, isn’t that a basic principle that we all deserve?

New balls please.

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