What defines good or bad “customer service,” anyway?

Wednesday’s Retail Wire panel weighed in heavily on the subject of customer service, mostly on the theme of “it’s terrible.” My contrarian view is that you need to define the customer’s expectations about service based on the retail outlet…not all stores are meant to be Nordstrom:

It’s hard to condemn “bad customer service” with such a broad brush, without understanding the consumer’s definition of “good service” in one retailer or another. A retailer like Nordstrom has built its business model on a “high-touch” approach to customer service. When it disappoints due to lack of staffing or product knowledge, the premise of the model falls down.

On the other hand, expectations are much different for a customer at Target or another mass retailer: Is the store clean and well-stocked? Can I navigate the shelves easily? And, most importantly, is the checkout process fast? Most consumers seeing a mass retailer operate at its best are going to feel satisfied with the level of “customer service,” even if they didn’t encounter a sales associate along the way.


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