Following on from the wide-ranging industry debate on the value of customer service over price, Sohan Karunaratne, head of marketing at Convoy International, has weighed in, saying that vendors and retailers need to work together to take customers on a service journey to keep the focus off discounting.
Convoy International distributes a wide range of brands, including Aerial7, Monster, JBL and Harman/Kardon.
“Customers will always want the best deal, however, where they choose to purchase and, ultimately, loyally shop is generally based on the experience they have at store level,” Karunaratne said. “Retailers should never make price their number one focus and risk becoming like everyone else; they need to focus on what makes them unique.”
Karunaratne’s comments are particularly interesting as he spent three years in various roles at Harvey Norman before joining Convoy, so he has experience and insights from both sides of the industry aisle.
“Customers need to be taken on a journey from the moment they enter a store, from staff service to the in-store experience, whether it be via visual stimulation, interactive product demos or simply the sound inside the store, they need to be comfortable within the environment.
“Service and experience win over price; something we at Convoy recognise and value. We train retail staff all over the country to make sure their method is right with our brands.
“Ultimately, customers want to feel the salesman they’re speaking to is giving them what they need, not what they think they should have. It’s all about finding the right product for the right customer.”
The debate over whether customers were prepared to pay more for outstanding service arose following research published by Verint on Monday 9 December 2013.
Here is how Appliance Retailer reported Verint’s findings (click link for full story):
Research commissioned by business intelligence specialist Verint Systems revealed that 72 per cent of almost 6,000 consumers surveyed reported experiencing problems with retail customer service. The most common complaints were existing problems not being resolved on the first contact; staff taking too long to respond to queries; rude and/or unknowledgeable staff; and inflexible processes, such as fixed delivery times and inconvenient opening hours.