As a customer, the experience you have in stores, online and on social media reflects on the overall company. The customer experience isn’t about just mastering one of these channels, it is about providing information and support across the board. As a college store, your day-to-day interactions with students are about more than just ensuring they come back through. Positive student interactions reflect well on the entire campus community. Whether you have simplified picking up their textbooks or offer a friendly ear, you are improving the student’s overall college experience. That is what customer service is about.
We have all experienced bad customer service. Unfortunately, it is part of life. However, as retail channels become more varied and easily accessible, consumers are less likely to sit quietly by and accept subpar service. Whether they take their complaints to social media or simply take their business elsewhere, stores don’t often get second or third chances.
A while back, I wanted to purchase a rug for my living room. I had looked around locally and didn’t find what I was looking for so I took the search to the internet. I came across a rug that looked perfect in the pictures, and it was reasonably priced. I ordered it and another item. A week later I received the other item, but no rug. I gave it another week, but still no rug. So, I called the company to check on my order. The lady on the phone told me it had been delivered. I told her it didn’t come to me. She confirmed the address, and that was the problem. It had been sent to my old house. She told me she would send a new one. Had the issue ended here, it would have been a good experience. It didn’t.
I checked my email confirmation and sure enough they still had the old address on it. I called back and reexplained everything. The new lady on the phone then said there was nothing she could do. The order had already been placed. It didn’t matter that it was mere minutes before. It was too late. I explained that I didn’t live at that house. They would have to send a third rug. She suggested that I should wait outside of my old residence until the package was delivered and then take it because it was for me. I told her there wasn’t a chance of that actually happening then hung up irritated. I took my complaint to social media. Within an hour of complaining on Twitter, the company miraculously was able to change my shipping address and get the rug to me.
This situation isn’t unique. If a student comes into your store during rush to get textbooks, but has a hard time finding help, has to wait in seemingly endless lines or has a bad encounter, will they come back next time? Probably not.
What can your store do to provide students with better customer service?
- Add helpful technology that streamlines the student process.
Technology is great when there is the right balance. If retail technology can make the customer experience faster and smoother, then it is a good addition to a store. However, people still want the option for person-to-person contact.
- Give students multiple ways to contact you for help, including social media.
Students are going to take any issues they have to social media whether or not you are there. If you are on social media, then you have a chance to turn a bad customer experience into a marketing win.
- Make sure associates are trained and able to provide support for most customer questions.
Knowledgeable employees inspire customer confidence. When the first person you speak with can answer your questions or give you the information you need, it is easier to trust the employees and the business.
- Make the store entrance warm and inviting.
Show students they are welcome in your store. Make it feel and look like a place they want to be to help encourage more visits. Craft the entrance and window displays with the students in mind.
- Keep your employees happy.
Companies like L.L. Bean have long been heralded for their outstanding customer service. Why? It’s because of the people. Even with their recently discontinued lifetime return policy, the company’s strength lies with the people who work there. Their employees are warm and friendly and don’t seem stressed, which allows them to provide better service to the people they help.
What has your store done to ensure students have a great experience shopping with you?