We are supposed to be in a recession. Potential customers like you and I are said to be hanging on to our money, worried about how much worse it might get. Retailers are losing business. Some are closing down. Factories are not getting enough orders from retailers. Factories are closing and jobs are being lost. People without their usual income cannot pay their mortgages and are losing their homes.
It’s serious! Oh, really? Well you could have fooled me. During the past six weeks I have had a few experiences of retailers which, in “normal” times, I might shrug off and attribute to bad manners, ignorance and the lack of accountability which, these days, is usually blamed on underpaid and undercommitted staff. But these are not normal times. These are times when retailers need every customer that they can get.
This week’s example of abysmal customer service deserves a mention. I had been looking for some rather specialised equipment for the home. The details are unimportant except to say that I anticipated spending around £400-£500, possibly more, with whichever retailer provided the goods and, having failed to find what I wanted locally, I took a bit of time to study the websites of several potential suppliers. Some of those websites were no use to me either because they failed to indicate which pieces of equipment were compatible with other items or because they didn’t seem to have a full range. Others were better because equipment was offered in ready-made packages which a layman such as myself could understand but there still seemed to me to be gaps in the information supplied. So I emailed what seemed to be the most useful of these suppliers, keeping my enquiry as short as possible and to the point. Three full working days have since passed and I have received no reply.
I think three days is already too long to wait for a reply to an email in these circumstances. So there is one £400-£500 sale that will not be going to that supplier within the next week or two. I wonder how many more there might be? And, if that supplier had a retail outlet in the local shopping centre instead of online, would they ignore potential customers who came into the shop with their enquiries until they walked away in disgust?