The butter running down the inside of the refrigerator was not a pretty sight. I was in a desperate situation. Fourteen people were a coming for a party the next evening and my refrigerator was heating up like an oven instead of cooling.
I snapped into action and quickly measured the space for the refrigerator. I then went to the Internet and researched all the local appliance stores and found a refrigerator (yes, exactly one) that would fit in the space I had available. I called the store and the salesperson told me they had one unit in stock and could deliver the refrigerator the next morning. I told the salesperson I would be right there, grabbed my purse, and my husband, and we drove to the store only to discover that the delivery spot had been filled. After talking to the manager and explaining our situation, he graciously offered to deliver the unit first thing in the morning.
Delivery went fine and we have been happy with the-refrigerator until recently when the icemaker began to freeze up on a regular basis. My husband got tired of using the hair dryer on the icemaker, so he contacted the service technician who indicated that the part was permanently out of stock. The tech explained that the problem was actually a design flaw of the manufacturer and advised us to call back the service contract company and let them know he could not repair it. Imagine our surprise when the service company offered to reimburse us for the full amount of the refrigerator and the prorated amount of the contract. I call that outstanding customer service.
Inherently, we as consumers believe we desire good customer service. However, with our ability to stay put behind the television and place our order online only to be delivered the next day, or better yet in two hours makes us ask ourselves are we really vying for good customer service or simply speed of delivery. In the case of my refrigerator, the speed of delivery could not have been better. I was a happy customer until the icemaker could not be repaired.
My conjecture is that brick and mortar stores need a wakeup call. The major advantage brick and mortar stores still maintain over online shopping is the human-to-human interaction. A dollar investment made in technology should be countered by a dollar investment in a company’s employees. That investment could be improving productivity so the employee had more time to face the customer and less time stocking the shelves, or a company may seek to hire more qualified personnel using better wages and benefits. The most important investment has to be in customer service training. After shopping today all day for angels for my church angel tree, I can truly see why consumers are abandoning malls. Help was scarce, checkouts were painfully slow, and stock was a mess. Try to ask for special service like tax exempt status and the entire experience falls apart.
I have a tremendous amount of admiration for the retailer who honored their customer service agreement with me. For the rest, take a bit of advice from this experience, invest in customer service before it is too late!