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The Retail Service Quality Index
Dec 31, 2009

The Salt and Pepper Group published their Retail Service Quality Index in early December.  Disappointedly, their survey produced a poor overall service index rating of 48.2 out of 100.  As this Holiday Season wraps up it is clear that on-line retailers were the big winners.  Their in-stock position, convenience, speedy delivery and overall on-line/off-line were big contributors to their success.  Amazon led the way and were big winners.

Two of the significant observations coming out of the Salt and Pepper survey were:

1) "Associates performed poorly when they were expected to exercise greater observation and engagement skills. Specifically, they had trouble seizing opportunities to demonstrate customer service when it required identifying and responding to indirect signals (1.3 out of 10) or handling multiple shoppers on the sales floor (4 out of 10)."
2) "Associates started to struggle in situations where customers needed advice,” said Rick Miller, consulting analyst at The SALT and Pepper Group. “Most of them really were not comfortable asking questions to get the information they needed. I don’t know if it was that they didn't want to or just weren’t really sure how to do it.”

So what can we conclude from these specific observations and the overall survey itself?

  • Service Excellence is  perhaps unachievable and/or broadly unfordable in this recovering economy
  • Practicality trumps Desire with many retailers
  • Customer Service performance is producing more conversation than participation
  • Price /Value strategies conflicts with Customer Service/Satisfaction execution
  • Service Excellence requires hiring people for their service attitudes
  • Then training in  Service Excellence needs to happen

It is my New Year's wish that ultimately Service Excellence will improve broadly and will be a contributing component to a recovered economy.  On-line retailers discovered that this past Holiday Season...Hopefully 2010 is transformational for customers and clients as suppliers and retailers embrace Service Excellence as a competitive differentiator. HAPPY NEW YEAR.....

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