Most of us are expecting high-quality customer service in our daily life, but actually enjoying a happy purchase is easier said than done.
Shoppers seldom complain to the manager or owner of a retail store, but instead they will alert their friends, relatives, co-workers, strangers—and anyone who will listen.
Store managers are often the last to hear complaints, and often find out only when their regular customers decide to frequent their competitors, according to a study jointly conducted by Verde Group and Wharton School.
“Storytelling hurts retailers and entertains consumers,” said Paula Courtney, President of the Verde Group. “The store loses the customer, but the shopper must also find a replacement.”
On average, every unhappy customer will complain to at least four others, and will no longer visit the specific store. For every dissatisfied customer, a store will lose up to three more due to negative review. The resulting “snowball effect” can be disastrous to retailers.
According to the research, shoppers who purchased clothing encountered the most problems. Ranked second and third were grocery and electronic customers.
The most common complaints include filled parking lots, cluttered (塞满了的) shelves, overloaded racks, out-of-stock items, long check-out lines, and rude salespeople.
During peak shopping hours, some retailers solved parking problems by getting moonlighting (业余兼职的) local police to work as parking attendants. Some hired flag wavers to direct customers to empty parking spaces. This guidance eliminated the need for customers to circle the parking lot endlessly, and avoided confrontation between those eyeing the same parking space.
Retailers can relieve the headaches by redesigning store layouts, pre-stocking sales items, hiring speedy and experienced cashiers, and having sales representatives on hand to answer questions.
Most importantly, salespeople should be diplomatic and polite with angry customers.
“Retailers who’re responsive and friendly are more likely to smooth over issues than those who aren’t so friendly,” said Professor Stephen Hoch. “Maybe something as simple as a greeter at the store entrance would help.”
Customers can also improve future shopping experiences by filing complaints to the retailer, instead of complaining to the rest of the world. Retailers are hard-pressed to improve when they have no idea what is wrong.