The customer is always right

The current economic climate makes us all very aware of the fact that now, more than ever, we need to support our local businesses, be it shops or services.

The UK High Street - where customer care now counts
The UK High Street - where customer care now counts

Week in, week out, we see another local business fold or town centre shop close due to the fact they simply can’t afford to keep the business running because of ever rising costs and dwindling customer numbers as the consumer continues to keep a watchful eye on every penny spent.

We are all sad when another empty shop premises appears in the centre of town (we at the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times have ourselves been affected and, as a result, have regretfully recently been forced to close our front office) and in the main, most people are sympathetic to these ailing businesses as it’s commonly assumed they must have done everything possible to keep the business afloat.

Imagine my surprise this week then, when I spoke to a couple of local businesses to inquire about the possibility of acquiring their services. I was told by the first it wasn’t worth their while to set us up with an account as the small margin of profit for them “just wasn’t worth it” and, by the second, that they were “busy enough not to need to mess around with anything but cash payments” when I inquired about settling the monthly account with a business credit card.

Cue much incredulity from my colleagues here in the office and a discussion ensued as to how these businesses are actually surviving in the toughest of financial environments this country has seen since the great depression in the 1930s.

Having seen so many well-established and much-loved local shops and businesses have to give up their fight for their piece of the market, despite offering the greatest of customer service and real value for money, how disappointing that this attitude remains amongst even a small proportion of our local retailers.

According to research, the three most important facts about customer service are: 1. 86% of customers will not return to a business because of a bad customer experience; 2. 78% of customers recommend a business to a friend if they have received good customer service; 3. Only 10% of companies are deemed to be delivering exceptional customer service.

Is good customer service just too much to expect?

As Marshall Field, founder of the great American department store Macy’s commented: “Right or wrong, the customer is always right.”