COMMENT: What is it about Australia and the lack of service by retailers? In the US and the UK retailers go out of their way to build databases of customers and in some cases they even issue them with barcodes or cards so that regular customers get priority service.
Even corner store dry cleaners in the USA use CRM systems to gather intelligence on their customers. But in Australia the attitude of retailers is totally the opposite.
For example last month I walked in Storage World at Northbridge in NSW where during the past few years my wife and I have spend litterally thousands buying storage gear for temporary accommodation while we built a new house. We also purchased wardrobe rack systems for the new house as well as things like tie and belt racks as well as kitchen and laundry storage gear.
This is not some corner store mum and dad store. This is a chain of stores run nationally across Australia with the Northbridge store being owned by the Company that also franchises the Storage World brand.
So when I walked in there some four weeks ago to buy some more clothing racks similar to ones that I had already purchased I discovered that they were out of stock and this is when I realised that this was a Company that had a major problem when it came to customer service.
After inquiring as to whether they could order stock in for me I was told “yes” not a problem and after giving the assistant both my name and that of my wife I was told it would only take a couple of days.
Four weeks later and after numerous calls to the shop I still don’t have the goods but I do have a poor customer experience.
On two occasions I was told it would only be a few days but on my fifth call some three weeks later I actually asked them to repeat the telephone number of either my wife or myself.
After an 8 minute wait during which time I ended up talking to two assistants a Storage World employee came back and said “What was your name I don’t seem to have a record of the order”.
Now if this was a Company that took customer service seriously they would by now have both my wife and I on a database.
They should have also offered to phone other stores in their group to see if they had the items in stock.
They should have also, after telling me that it would be in stock within days phoned me after a week to tell me that they were still waiting for the goods to arrive.
But they didn’t because the pimple faced youth on the floor that served me and who just happens to be the critical interface between the customer and the business did not care. He failed to go to a master database and enter any customer details.
All he wanted to do was move onto his next customer finish his shift and get paid. He made no attempt to deliver a good customer service experience and I blame management for this.
Storage World is not alone when it comes to delivering poor customer service in Australia. Harvey Norman and the likes of Dick Smith make no attempt to build extensive CRM databases so that they can offer their regular customers exclusive services and viewings.
Organisations that do understand customer service are the likes of automotive Companies who while taking an order build an extensive database which they later market to in an effort to stay in touch with their most valuable asset a customer who has the ability to spend money.
They send out magazines that constantly remind the customer about the performance of the brand. They invite customers and their friends and partners to cocktail parties and special viewings of new products.
I also wonder how many interior or kitchen designers are on the Storage World database, because every day these trades are recommending storage options to customers.
I for one have never received a marketing brochure from Storage World despite going to their store for more than 10 years but guess what I still get a regular brochure from a store in South Coast Plaza in the USA where I have on several occasions purchased goods.
So what is the difference? One understands the value of customer service and the other doesn’t give stuff.
So what is customer service all about? See our recommendations and those of the NSW department of business.