Every business owner knows, or learns quickly, customer service is one of the key elements to success. So, how is your customer service? If you are looking to overhaul your customer service practices, you should consider the findings of a new study from Arizona State University. It shows Americans are increasingly unhappy with the products and services they buy, and customer service must be executed flawlessly in order to retain repeat business from customers.
Prof. Mary Jo Bitner, executive director of the Center for Services Leadership at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, said the study found 56 million American households experienced at least one customer service problem during the past 12 months, and about $76 billion in revenue was at stake for the businesses involved.
“The moral of the story: Don’t invest in improving your customer service unless you’re going to do it right,” Bitner said. “If a company handles your complaint well, then you typically become a more loyal customer. However, if they don’t, then you become 12 percentage points less brand-loyal than if you never complained at all.”
The study’s numbers have gained much attention among business owners, with The Wall Street Journal picking up the story in conjunction with last year’s Christmas-shopping season. Even high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman are facing increasingly unsatisfied customers, which Scott Broetzmann, chief executive of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, said directly correlates to how businesses are handling complaints.
“We found satisfaction is no higher than reported in 1976,” Broetzmann said. “People are frustrated that there are too many automated response menus, there aren’t enough customer-care agents, they waste a lot of time dealing with the problem and they have to contact the company an average of four times to get resolution.”
The study was recently discussed in-depth at the annual Compete Through Service Symposium hosted by the Center for Services Leadership in Phoenix. The center is within the W. P. Carey School of Business. It was formed in 1985 as a response to the unique challenges companies face in the services arena. More information about the center and the study is on the W. P. Carey School of Business website.
Customer service study highlights include:
• The amount of people reporting customer problems went up from 32 percent in a similar 1976 study, to 45 percent in 2011 and then 50 percent in 2013.
• The number of households experiencing “customer rage” went from 60 percent just two years ago, up to 68 percent this year.
• Though many people associate the government with customer service issues, 98 percent of the most serious problems stemmed from private companies.
• Despite the rise of the Internet, people are still 11 times more likely to complain via the telephone rather than the web.
• However, customer-complaint posting on social-networking sites, such as Facebook, has nearly doubled from 19 to 35 percent since 2011.
• Most of those who reported a complaint — 56 percent — say they got absolutely nothing as a result, up nine percentage points since 2011.
• When companies added free remedies, such as an apology, to any other monetary relief they gave customers, satisfaction doubled from 37 to 74 percent.
If a customer was satisfied or at least pacified, he or she only told an average of 10 to 16 people about the problem, but if customers were left dissatisfied, they told an average of about 28 people.
ATN Introduces Interactive Kiosks for Retailers
American Technologies Network Corp. (ATN) recently introduced the IKE and IKE Jr. (Interactive Kiosk Experience), interactive sales kiosks for night vision and thermal imaging retailers. In an age when retail products need to stand out to catch the consumer’s eye, kiosks like these serve as an invaluable resource for retailer sales staff.
The kiosks come fully equipped with space to display the latest ATN gear, a 13-inch touchscreen tablet with the ATN Product Selection Wizard, an area for promotional info or monthly retailer specials and product support cards listing key selling points on ATN night vision and thermal imaging digital products.
The IKE also comes with an LCD television that features ATN promotional videos highlighting the products’ technologies. Dealers can purchase the IKE unit for $1,500. The IKE is free to dealers who purchase $12,000 in ATN products; they also receive bonuses of 10 percent additional discount off current cost, no limit on quantity or order amount, control over product mix and no staggered delivery.
IKE Jr. gives retailers all the same features as the IKE, except it does not include the LCD television. The IKE Jr. can be purchased for $750. It’s free with $6,000 in product purchases, and dealers will receive the same bonuses as with the IKE.
ATN also has product stands and banners available for retailers, as well as logo merchandise like T-shirts and baseball caps.
Contact American Technologies Network Corp. to learn more about the IKE and how to qualify as an ATN retailer.
Para Boosts Sales With $100 Rebate
Para is giving consumers a $100 rebate if they purchase a new Para 1911 pistol by May 31. Pistols included in this 2014 Spring Rebate are the:
• Model 1911 Black Ops
• Model 1911 Executive Carry
• Model 1911 Expert
• Model Pro Custom
A complete list of all the 1911s eligible for the rebate is available on Para’s website, along with rebate forms. Dealers, consider downloading the rebate form for your customers. Additional rebate pads for dealers are available by calling 1-800-515-8738, ext. 7519.
Sinclair Intl. Launches Dealer Program
Sinclair International made its SHOT Show debut this year, launching a new dealer pricing program and displaying its line of heavy varmint shooting rests, bipods, reloading tools and precision shooting supplies.
“I think dealers and retailers will be as happy about our new dealer program as we are,” said Geoff Esterline, Sinclair International category manager. “It’s aimed at providing great access and pricing on some of the finest reloading and precision shooting supplies on the market.”
Sinclair International offers reloading tools, components, ammunition and accessories, plus unique competitive shooting and hunting supplies. A member of the Brownells Group since 2007, Sinclair International stocks more than 15,000 items for handloaders, shooters and hunters worldwide.
Bear & Son Series Honors American Tradition
Bear & Son Cutlery has introduced a new 10-knife Blue Jean Series for 2014, honoring the heritage of blue jeans in the American clothing tradition.
To visually fit their name, all 10 knives have rugged blue G10 handles with an embedded back pocket shield etched with B&S. The knives feature a Bear & Son tang stamp, symbolizing they are made in America. These highly-polished blades are made of high-carbon stainless steel, and all are folders, with five featuring lock-back safety.
Suggested retail prices range from $44 to $118. All 10 of the new Bear & Son knives are made in the USA and are backed by Bear’s Lifetime Warranty. For more information on these and Bear & Sons full line of knives, visit the company’s website.
By J.K. Autry
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