Maybe this will be the year that companies realize they can gain a competitive edge by offering excellent customer service.
In an example of what I hope will be a trend, Lowe’s Canada is using a customer-focused approach in advertising its three giant home improvement stores opened last month in the Toronto area. The TV ads point out how shoppers can summon help quickly with call buttons all over the place.
I did a tour of the Brampton store last week. I was impressed by the bright lighting, ease of navigation, broad selection, informative signs — and, of course, the call buttons. There’s a storewide announcement after you ring. Then, there’s a ding-dong sound when the staff know your request is fulfilled.
The ads make you think, without really saying so, about the inferior service you get at home-grown rivals such as Canadian Tire.
“We take ownership of customers’ needs and accountability for meeting them,” says the statement of core values at Lowe’s website.
“Customers drive our business. We will enhance our understanding of customers and their needs through continuous learning.”
It’s too soon to say whether this company will live up to its lofty rhetoric. But I know of many others that don’t.
Check out the Dell complaint I got today, where a reader has been waiting many weeks to get a refund on a cancelled order. The company’s core values were not observed.
Also, check out the response from Future Shop’s vice-president Mike Chuback about the Boxing Day sales controversy — computers advertised at one price and sold at a higher price. He’s really trying to take accountability in this case.