Despite Our Hyper-Digital World, Customer Service Matters More Than Ever In 2015
As Lyana mentioned in her last post outlining the bridezilla-inducing mistakes she’s encountered on our wedding planning adventures, we ended up finding a venue that gave us the customer experience we were looking for, both digitally and in person. We’ll save the venue post for another day, but Lyana’s comment got me to thinking about the varying degrees of customer service we’ve received from the wedding vendor industry.
Every purchase we’ve made (or not made) has had at least something to do with customer service. I want to make an important distinction: even though we live in a digital world, and even though this is The Digital Life blog series, people still play a vital part in the digital marketing process. In fact, I’d argue that people are more important than ever, because consumers’ expectations for customer service are at an all time high. Consumers are smart and they do their own research, but when the time comes to ask questions, they expect prompt answers from people who care.
On a wedding task that we recently completed (which if you’ve ever planned a wedding, is a euphoric feeling) Lyana and I received excellent customer service that helped us make a purchase decision. In other words, we spent thousands of dollars because we liked and felt comfortable with a genuine human being. Even in our fast paced, constantly evolving digital world, sometimes all it takes is a person you can trust. In a nutshell, here’s how delivering exceptional customer service makes all the difference in the world:
First, How NOT To Sell
Needless to say, I want to look good on my wedding day. All eyes will be on my beautiful bride, but I don’t want to ruin any pictures! So I needed a good suit. I went through the suit-buying process twice last year for the weddings I was a part of in 2014. One suit was custom-tailored, pricey, and came with an uneven customer-experience, but the quality was fantastic; the other suit we got directly from a factory connection and was cheaper, but it didn’t fit as well and there was no customer service to lean on. I wanted something in between the two processes: a nice suit at less than $500 with hassle-free, helpful customer service.
Once I eliminated a custom-tailored suit (too expensive) our options appeared limited. The most convenient place to get a half-decent suit without breaking the bank is Tip Top Tailors, so off we went to see what kind of suit they had for me. Their website isn’t anything special, but it gives me the information I need, and they’re engaged in the social spaces where Lyana and I are active. Okay, they got us in the doors of their store - good job marketing team!
Lyana and I visited two Tip Top locations, and our customer experience was the same at both: an over-the-top, in-your-face super sales pitch the entire time we were in their store. To me, and I think a growing percentage of consumers everywhere, this is the absolute worst way to make a sale. I didn’t even get a chance to look at any of the suits Tip Top had because I was so distracted and annoyed by the employee trying to sell me by saying, “Oh yeah, we can accommodate whatever you need, no problems. I’ve been working here 19 years, I’ll take care of you myself.” Yeah right, buddy (he couldn’t have sounded any more fake). I’ve heard that one before, always from sales reps who will literally say anything to make a sale. As soon as we stepped out of the second Tip Top store, we crossed them off the list. They could have had the exact suit I wanted, but instead of selling it to me, their employees - in different stores - drove me away.
A Sharp Dressed Man
At this point, we weren’t sure what we were going to do. We had been considering Moores, but it seemed like it’d be a carbon copy of Tip Top (okay marketing, potentially solid product, terrible customer service). Well, we were very, very wrong.
From the moment we set foot in the Moores store at Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga, things were different. For starters, we weren’t immediately ambushed by a salesman trying to make the fastest sale in history, just so he could jump onto the next mark. Instead, we walked around, checked out some suits, and got a feel for the store. After a while, a guy came over and introduced himself as Eric Wolfe, the store manager. We chatted for a bit and asked a few questions, each of which Eric answered with confidence. Two things struck us about Eric: he knew what he was doing (we felt like we were in good hands) and he was genuine (we trusted him). Since it was just a recon mission, we took Eric’s card and he said to contact him if and when I wanted to come back to try on suits.
Eric didn’t know at the time, but on the car ride home, I decided that my groomsmen and I would be buying our suits from Moores. I didn’t even have a suit in mind, but I knew Eric would help us find the right one. And he did. A few weeks later, we exchanged emails and I went back into his store and, with Eric’s help, quickly settled on a suit. Two visits and a number of emails and calls later, I’d brought all my groomsmen in to get sized and buy their suits. All that’s left now is to go back one last time and have Eric measure us for any final alterations. Overall, the process of buying a suit for my wedding was much easier than I had anticipated. To cap it off, I got this email from Eric a few days after we’d spent almost $2000 in his store:
Bonus! This probably didn’t take much effort on Eric’s part, but it did fall right in line with his actions throughout the entire process. He did everything he said he was going to do and he genuinely cared about the suits my groomsmen and I will be wearing at my wedding.
Why Don’t More Companies Realize The Power Of Good Customer Service
This is a legitimate question. In case it isn’t already clear, we bought from Moores because of Eric Wolfe’s customer service. Period. It wasn’t their website, which is just average (you can’t view the products, the only reason to use the site is to find a store location). It wasn’t the Moores brand or reputation, which I had a negative perception of due to relating them to Tip Top. And it wasn’t the suit, which is the product they (or more appropriately, Eric) sold me. Whether Moores trains all their employees like Eric or he went above and beyond what the company expects from him, I’ll never know. If I ever buy anything from Moores again (and I probably will), you can be damn sure that I’m going through Eric.
Exceptional customer service transcends brand and product. It’s just one human helping another in a time or area of need. It’s not about money, a deal, or a sales guy tricking you into buying something you don’t need. People and companies who adopt this kind of sell-at-all-costs mindset should be ashamed. In our hyper-digital world, we need less selling, and more humans who just want to help a guy see about a girl on his wedding day.