27 October 2008

Gimmie Service!

Sorry Mick, Shelter is for the birds. I’ve got money to spend and I expect, no gosh darn it, I demand SERVICE!

Okay, perhaps your customers will not be that blunt. And perhaps if you are a lot more expensive for like-for-like products that can be bought elsewhere, service alone will not win the day. But if your prices are around the same price as those selling similar goods, service will more than ever be the clincher.

Today’s customer - and yes there are customers in spite of the scare headlines about the economy going to hell in and handcart - is a different beast to the ones that used to stalk the land fuelled with cheap loans.

Many of today’s customers may be a grudge buyers, that is a consumer forced to replace part of a kitchen or bathroom because something has broken.

Most will be frightened of extending themselves financially, so they will be keeping a very sharp eye on the price.

But put yourself in their place. If you were going out to buy, say a new washing machine because your old one had broken, what is the only thing that is certain to happen?

You will buy a washing machine from someone.

Where you buy will depend on price, obviously, but you will also take the quality of the machine into account – your old machine has just broken down don’t forget – and if someone can make the whole business as painless as possible by organising delivery, installation, taking the old machine away and being in the same price ball park as other suppliers, you will be tempted to spend the money you do not want to spend with them.

When it comes to personal service, the independents are usually in a league of their own. And when it comes to product knowledge, it is once again the independent that gets five stars for their homework.

Very often some of the headline-grabbing discounts offered by superstores do not stand up to scrutiny so a little time researching what is really on offer locally rather than what is just being advertised as on offer will be time well spent.

1 comment:

  1. Grahame is indeed correct! The facts are that 80% of the wealth in the UK along with 80% of te property is now owned by the 50+ consumer..who now outnumber the 16 and unders for the first time. When you look at that age profile, many have had the experience of decent service from independents, as they started their shopping lives when superstores, shopping malls, out of town complexes were merely a twinkle in some great architects' eyes!! The 'greys' will be the key drivers of the retail market for the next decade or so, as their wealth has been generated over time, unlike the 'new' money...much of which has turned out to be literally 'paper money'..and will disappear due to the effects of the credit crunch..
    This is great news for the good independent retailer, as they are best placed now to exploit this market by continuing to offer excellent customer service..which is what the grey market demands. Whilst the multiples have spent millions over the past years trying to improve their customer service levels, I believe that in the main, they have all failed,as your own experiences with these retailers probably proves. 30 years ago, the independents were forecast to be extinct before now, but the fact they they are still around is good news, and they should be supported even more by this excivting opportunity for them from the increasingly powerful grey market.
    Graham Ball
    Chief Executive Officer