Do You Know This Customer Service Secret?

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    I was speaking to one of my retail clients a few weeks ago about vouchers, and expiry dates. I am sure we have all heard of gift vouchers, and at this time of year they become hugely popular.

    Many companies sell gift vouchers with an expiry date on them – in other words you pay your money but you need to redeem the voucher in a certain time. This is a ploy that usually gets shoppers back into the store to spend. Nothing wrong with that. My retail friend has an expiry date on hers, but always honours them regardless of the time. That is the other side of customer service and the real secret.

    Two stories with two different results

    Here are two stories that typified customer service, one in the positive, one in the negative.

    First the positive story. Last week my friend was serving a client in her store when the client casually said “I have one of your vouchers here but it is probably expired”.

    When my friend looked at the gift voucher it had indeed expired ,18 months prior in fact, but without batting an eyelid she said “that’s fine, let put it towards this sale”.

    Right there and then was an opportunity. It happens all the time in many businesses all over the world. Shall I turn this customer off my business, or onto my business? My friend’s attitude is simple – I have her money! Therefore she should spend it.

    What if my friend had said no? She might just have had an unhappy customer and these days word of mouth is not five friends any more, it might just be her 500 friends on Facebook, and 500 on twitter. Does my friend get a lot of these gift vouchers requests? No, maybe ten a year. But it is about perception.

    Yes or No

    What happens when you get a no? I went into a well known electronics store recently, where I do a lot of shopping , with a voucher for $90. Guess what – yes it was expired. And “sorry we do not take vouchers past their used by date”. But you have my money, I protested. Still, sorry.

    Can retailers in this economic climate afford to treat me like that? No.

    So there is the difference.

    Good selling