Retail Customer Service – Good or Bad?

So I found out recently that there’s a thing called Choice magazine, who describe themselves as The People’s Watchdog. They pride themselves on ensuring the consumer voice is heard loud and clear.

They have released an article this week that rates the best and worst of Australian Retailers including Big W, Bunnings, David Jones, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Myer and Harvey Norman are among others. A recent American Express global customer service survey found Australian consumers believe service standards have continually declined over the last three years.

SO  – Choice sent four individuals to stores in Sydney over a two week period to judge the in-store experience. Here were the results -(http://tinyurl.com/cxz8m8y)

But really – who are these four people that wondered around Sydney and visited stores? Do they have qualifications? It is said that “they rated staff member on helpfulness and product knowledge, as well as noting any other efforts to close the sale such as offering a price reduction or added extras.” I’m not a research scientist (believe it or not), but shouldn’t studies show the verdict from a focus group of actual consumers, not four random people? And shouldn’t it be mentioned that often these stores are separately owned and operated across the entire country?

The only thing they noted was the subjective element involved in any shopping experience. Well yes, exactly, so shouldn’t a number of customers, or at least the same four shoppers go in to the same store and speak to a variety of salespeople? If they did mention this it wasn’t clear in the article.

And also – as this Choice magazine is Australian, shouldn’t they be supporting Australian retailers? No, instead they’re deferring people from in-store shopping  and encouraging people to shop online. Because let’s face it – people continue to shop in-store as they are getting a one-on-one shopping experience with customer service being the number 1 draw card. Oh, but wait – if customer service is failing in most regards and at most retailers – what’s the point of shopping in-store at all?

Being a casual Harvey Norman employee over the last three years, I have experienced my fair share of unsatisfied customers. My position as a cashier lets me speak to customers at the beginning and end of their visit to the store. When it comes down to it – I can recall more good feedback than bad. I always make an effort to pass the praise on to the salesperson on behalf of the customer and make sure to let the boss know. I believe that you hear too much of the bad stuff and not of the good!

I am not defending Harvey Norman or any of these other stores because as a customer too, I often get frustrated with some of the service I receive. However, I think it is entirely poor of Choice to judge the entire chain of these retailers from one visit to one Sydney store. I think this study is a joke.

What are your experiences with customer service in retail? Do you agree with Choice magazine? Let’s hear it!

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