How Plain Common Sense Customer Service Can Save Your Business

Sometimes companies do the strangest things and their customers are left scratching their heads in confusion and frustration.

When the economy and businesses are struggling, wouldn’t you think they would do everything they can to keep the customers they already have? Evidently not. See some companies have a habit of focusing more on what’s best for them than on what’s best for the customer. In this Internet age, the customer rules and the CEO’s who think things are still the way they were 10 years ago will lose out.

So here’s what happened. I was shopping at the mall with my daughter who needed new jeans. First we go to Radio Shack because I needed a new phone headset since I do spend so much time doing coaching and tele-classes on the phone and my old one broke. It seems that Radio Shack thought they carried them, but they don’t or maybe they were out of them. The sales person seemed surprised and admitted that they should have them. I told him not to worry, I’d just go buy it at Best Buy, which is what I did. Now wouldn’t you think that since Radio Shack is a store that specializes in this type of product, they would have it? Especially now?

Lesson: you don’t want to lose a sale because you don’t have what the customer wants and should be able to get from you.

Next we went to Wet Seal– a teen clothing store. Its already annoying that you have to find a sales assistant to unlock the dressing rooms and they are very hard to find. There were people waiting to pay and the 2 employees were off in a corner chatting and stacking jeans. Once we finally found what we wanted and went to pay, I was asked if I knew about their new return policy. No, I didn’t. So the sales assistant proceeded to explain that you could no longer get your money back, you could only get store credit, so were we pretty happy with our purchase?  I explained to her that we were, but that we would be less likely to shop there in the future.

Why, in the mist of a recession, would you make it more unpleasant to shop in your store? Burlington Coat Factory did the same thing for a while and I stopped going there for 2 years. Finally they must have realized it wasn’t making thier customers happy and they now again allow you to return items for a refund.

I understand that some people take advantage of the refund system. I’ve even heard of people wearing something and returning it, which really stinks. But I think that businesses should do whatever they need to do to keep customers happy and coming back.

Lesson: create a risk free way to buy and you will increase your sales. After all, not every buyer knows you well enough to trust you, so make it easy for them. This is called risk reversal.

Anyone with common sense knows that right now, you want to keep your customers happy and coming back. The lifetime value of a good customer is priceless.


  • Ann Strong
    Posted at 14:06h, 14 February Reply

    Thanks for a thought-provoking article, Janis.

    I’m going out on a limb here: prosperous times
    or leaner times, it doesn’t matter.

    For the best of businesses, the customer must
    always be the focus be of the business! I don’t
    know Wet Seal, but Radio Shack has never been
    the best of businesses.

    Perhaps part of the reason for Best Buy?!

  • Jamie Tucker
    Posted at 21:05h, 04 May Reply

    The recession has hit (most) everybody hard. I know I’ve had to find ways to cut corners while increasing my profit. My business has grown, and my needs of course grew with it, and I am now considering something called Sufaq ( to mange my customer support. I get so many inquiries, and this automates the process. Sounds like a great way to keep up with your customer’s inquiries while freeing up time in the process.

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