Why low prices don’t make up for poor customer service

11th Dec 2015

In the wake of Black Friday, and with Christmas approaching, shoppers are out in force, looking for bargains and gifts – an opportunity for businesses that can last into the January sales.

 

But, while reducing prices for a period can be a good way of tempting customers into a shop or onto a website, it’s important for retailers not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

 

Consumers may sometimes focus on the price of an item – though the UK Customer Satisfaction Index shows that the majority do not – but once they’ve purchased it, if delivery takes longer than expected, or online support is sub-standard, they will feel disappointed and will be less likely to use that retailer again. The same applies if stocks of the product they want run out before they can buy it. Businesses need to ensure they are set up to handle the extra orders stimulated by a sale.

 

Institute of Customer Service chief executive Jo Causon says that retailers should always be thinking ahead. “Is holding a sale or cutting prices just about getting rid of product from the shelves, or is it a one-off revenue generator?” she asks.

 

She acknowledges that there is a strong case for both in these tough economic times. “But, in addition to that, it needs to be about fulfilling the customer promise,” she adds. “Part of that is getting good value, which goes beyond the price.”

 

Trust, loyalty and creating repeat purchases should be the ultimate goal of any promotion. “Don’t think of it as a one-off, but as a daily operation,” Causon concludes. “Ask yourself, does the product service experience fit with what the customer expects? Is it convenient? And overall, is this about driving a long-term personalised approach with the customer?”

 

If it isn’t, they the new customers attracted by the price drop are likely to be as short-term as the sale itself.

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