Service Is Today’s Battlefield

Service is the battlefield for today’s shopkeepers. Customers now expect all us shopkeepers to be Bates to their Lord Grantham. New research by Market Force, reported by the Yorkshire Post,  shows how poor service affects shop sales. 9 out of 10 will leave a shop without buying if they don’t like the service. There’s good news for shopkeepers who fear online sales are going to take over completely: 79% prefer to go into a shop because they think face-to-face will mean better service. Another useful tip to take on board is that 8 out of 10 shoppers like to be taken to the product they have asked about.

I learn a lot about how to treat Your Life Your Style‘s customers from how I’m treated when I’m a customer. When Kwikfit quoted me £210 for new front brakes, I quickly moved on to another garage who quoted £70 less. But it was the offer of a home service that made me finally settle on the similarly priced Phill’s Auto Repairs.

When it comes to who you choose to fulfil your medical prescriptions, the price is fixed so it’s all about service. I decided to try one of my two local pharmacists’ services where they order, collect and fill your prescription. I based my choice purely on the fact that Boots gave me some points on my loyalty card.

Now you would think, since it’s all about service, pharmacists would go out of their way to get it right. Apparently not. Apart from the fact that my chosen one used an antiquated system of writing in a diary when they needed to order the prescriptions, there was no procedure for checking whether they had received them. This, I was told, was because they were too busy. Why take on a service you can’t properly deliver, you might ask?

Consequently three out of my last four monthly prescriptions were not there when I went to collect them. This is where service really comes into play. Businesses win or lose on how they handle a problem. So when the pharmacist on duty blamed me for it going wrong, it was not a good start. According to her, I hadn’t collected my previous month’s prescription.

I knew this couldn’t be true but, in the end, it doesn’t matter if the pharmacist was entirely blameless. Just as Bates thanks Lord Grantham for giving evidence that sent him to gaol, the retailer must treat the customer as right even when they’re wrong. As a customer, I didn’t need an argument, what I needed was my prescription, an apology and an assurance that they were working to improve their system. So they’ve lost my business. I’m changing to Lloyds who say they have a computerised system and have a member of staff check that prescriptions have arrived.

A version of this article appeared as a blog on the Southern Daily Echo website

By Paul Lewis

After a short stint as a journalist, I have spent most of my working life in marketing and retailing. I love theatre and have been lucky enough to work in theatre marketing for many years. I provide small businesses and arts organisations with holistic marketing at an economic price through my company Seven Experience Ltd

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