Satisfaction Services is a leading provider of Quality and Service Evaluation Programs, a concept of mystery shopping. We have changed the philosophy of an industry that has focused on people doing things wrong into a philosophy of rewarding people for doing things right. Satisfaction Services, Inc. _
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No one tops you when it comes to customer service, correct? Yours is the best in town. Or is it? Maybe you haven’t paid much attention to your customer service lately. Maybe you’ve hired an employee or two who could be doing better on the sales floor. Or, maybe you just assume a customer isn’t receiving great service at the big box store around the corner, so you’re sure she is coming to your store for the topnotch service. Plus, your contractor sales seem to be doing well—they may or may not be increasing but you think they’re about the same as the previous years.

Well, all of these assumptions could be driving customers right out of your store. Of course, they’re not all going to give you a sign by storming out the front door at the same time. But slowly, a customer doesn’t come back after making a purchase or a customer may come into your store…only to leave with nothing.

It’s nearly impossible to judge customer service because you can’t put a price on it. Dealing with different paint or sundry lines is easy—you can chart increases or decreases in sales. Customer service is a different story. Don’t fool yourself into believing your customer service is fine just because no one seems to be complaining about it. "A lot of dealers seem somewhat satisfied with themselves and t he job they are doing with customer service," said Ron Boyajian, product marketing manager of California Paints. "Some retailers are a bit delusional about how great their customer service actually is. Everyone can be friendly, but customer service is so much more than that."

Consider the small-business book "Up Against The Wal-Marts" written by Don Taylor and Jeanne Smalling Archer, which dedicated an entire chapter to customer service. The pair listed some "basic truths" to better understand customer service, including: most people are willing to pay a premium (up to 10 percent or more) for good customer service); happy customers will tell their friends, so you will spend less on advertising; some experts estimate that businesses lose as much as 30 percent of their potential revenue because of poor customer relations; and the biggest reason customers will quit doing business with your company is poor customer service.

So, how is your customer service? Maybe now is the time to reexamine your customer-service practices. Don’t just sit on your laurels. Read ahead to find out what others suggest are good customer-service practices (take a look at the extensive sidebar as well, featuring some of the best customer service tips pulled from PDR’s popular Dealer Features from the last four years) and see if an idea or two fits into your store’s philosophy. You know customers aren’t coming to your store because you have the best prices in town. They’re coming to you for product knowledge, industry experience and exceptional customer service. Don’t let them down.

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