Friday, January 12, 2007

Is customer service a thing of the past?

Over the past few weeks I have been updating my hockey equipment by purchasing certain items online. I have tried several different online retailers looking for the best price and availability. With three different retailers and three different products, I had difficulties with every purchase. In most cases, the item was advertised on their website but not in stock after I placed the order. The comunication with these companies was very difficult after they had my money. I have come to a conclusion that customer service is all but a distant memory. The internet has made it so easy to shop around for the best price from the comfort of your home that people don't want to pay the higher prices of the local mom and pop stores that were the backbone of the country until 10-15 years ago. Before the internet, people would shop from who they trusted with customer service and knowledge. Now it's all about price. Unfortunately, the internet has also given birth to a new type of business owner. Now anyone can own their own business with very little overhead. You don't need a retail space or stock any inventory. All you need is a computer. Anyone can set up a website that looks like a legitimate online storefront and sell virtually anything and have it drop shipped from the manufacturer. Unfortunately they have no idea what the manufacturers current stock on an item is, but they will gladly take your money first. Many of these e-tailers run their businesses based on volume, where only a certain percentage of satisfied customers is sufficient. Don't get me wrong, there are quite a few retailers who have developed very successful online businesses after having successful retail establishments. BH Photo out of NYC is one that comes to mind as being highly successful at adapting to the internet while maintaining their integrity. When it comes down to it, I would still rather put my money locally with a handshake and a smile, that is if there is anyone left to smile at.

1 comment:

Gary Steele said...

Customer service does seem to be thing of the past, but that just leaves room for those who know it's value and are willing to provide it. I've noticed that most people feel very "tended to" when they're given even a taste of the service that we took for granted just a few years back.

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