For pretty much any organisation, the concept of customer service – and what comprises good customer service – is not an option; it’s compulsory.
A few days ago I wandered into a store in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, with the specific goal of wanting to buy one product. On past visits to the store I’d experienced difficulties in obtaining this product because they’d run out of stock.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the product I was wanting was a perishable product, produced fresh on a daily basis. As I was calling in to the store in the late afternoon, and the product was being freshly made every morning, it stands to reason that on some days I might call into the store late in the afternoon and they would have sold out.
So, on this particular day, I called in to the store in the morning. 8am.
My logic was that surely there would not be any stock issues at that time of day.
The product was being made in a central, corporate facility, and not due to be delivered until around 10am.
Here’s the delimna: I’ve contacted the organisation in question and spoken with their management. The reasons why the product is centrally made, and not delivered to the store are honorable and reasonable. As a result, the 10am delivery timeframe is somewhat unavoidable, even though it’s really not acceptable.
Not from my point of view. And from our discussions, also not from theirs.
As a general rule, I take the viewpoint that I am in the store when I am in the store, and as I am there to buy products, those products should be available at the time that I’m there. With that point of view in mind, it then follows (to me, at least) that when the store staff are telling me that I should come back later, they are, effectively, being quite disrespectful to me.
Why should I come back? I takes me time. It takes quite some effort: the store is located in an area that is a real beast to get to. I don’t like going there at the best of times, and being asked to return is really quite unacceptable. It also presumes that I have the time to come back (I might not) and that it will be easy for me to accomplish.
Those presumptions are wrong, and by expressing themselves to me in this manner, those employees are being somewhat disrespectful towards me. Probably that’s not deliberate, but that doesn’t change the eventual outcome.
Now, here’s the problem: how does the business address this very real problem? They acknowledge that there’s a distribution issue, but as noted above, this is caused by a couple of very real underlying production issues that they correctly prioritise as being more significant than just selling product. I respect and accept that without reservation.
But it leaves them with the problem: they don’t have the product available in the stores at the time customers wish to purchase, and from a business management perspective, that represents a serious customer service issue.
What to do?
I really don’t pretend to have any answers here.