Retail Observer

October 2021

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM OCTOBER 2021 64 W e've all been through trying times, and in some cases we can now actually begin to see some improvements in the supply chain for parts and equipment. However, it seems that some strict health protocols may continue, and that it could change the marketplace once again. We're now all facing a continuing game of catch-up, while at the same time we must do our best to handle our customers professionally no matter what the future may hold for us all. How well we do it will be a key factor in determining our future relationships with our customers. We've all been in touch with service companies and contractors, and the way they handle our requests has helped determine the image we have of a company, perhaps forever. Let's look at some simple things we can do to save, recover and retain as much business as possible. First of all, stay in touch with your customers, even if there's a long wait for parts or equipment. A simple update will be good news for many of them. If possible, don't say that the part will take 12 weeks to arrive, then leave the customer in the dark for that time. If you don't try to stay in touch, many customers will get frustrated and look elsewhere for support. If you see positive or negative changes in availability, keep the customer posted, even if it's bad news. You should watch their order for them and periodically give them a status update. This will ensure that you don't lose track of their order, while showing the customer that you're aware of their needs. Always return phone calls. Customers may become pesky with repeated calls about the same concern. But always get back to them as quickly as possible. You never know what the call might actually be about. And if they don't get a response to their call, they'll be forced to go elsewhere, and they'll have a bad overall impression of your company. The customer will generally assume that no call means bad news. We must remember that in most cases the customer has very little idea about what's wrong and certainly no idea of how to fix the problem or what it will take to fix it. Promptly communicating with them is the key to helping level out the ups and downs. Sometimes just being a caring person can be rewarding for both you and your customer. Try to show an interest in the customer's problems, no matter how busy you are. I've heard responses like "We're booked three months out, and we can't even look at the work right now." A simple statement that you wish you could help them would ease the reality of the repair turnaround. Try to take time to understand what the customer really needs, and perhaps even figure out if there's a temporary fix that will buy them some time until you can get around to addressing their problem. Here's an example. I have a dryer with some kind of misting feature, and it began misting water all the time, even when the machine wasn't running. I called a repair company and someone called me back, spent a few minutes to understand the problem, and then asked me if I had a dedicated hot water supply for the dryer. I looked behind the machine and was able to turn off the water. It was a simple fix that I would never have thought of myself. Problem averted, and I certainly don't miss that misting option. It's important to keep being a professional and try your best to be courteous and helpful, no matter what the conditions in the marketplace might be. You have all the knowledge your customers are looking for, so try to be patient and respond to every customer request with your best effort to show them that they're valued customers at all times. Try your best to help them any way you can, and they'll be back. Your approach to their requests, no matter what kind of day you're having, or whatever the frustrations in the marketplace, will help determine the important positive image you'll leave with your customers every day. S E R V I C E D E P A R T M E N T Don Pierson, Certified Service Center (CSC) RO THE SERVICE CONSULTANT

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