Will Wal-Mart Destroy us All?
Or can customer service save us?
I have a love/hate relationship with the Big Boxes. On the one hand, I really like Target (Wal-Mart not so much). I like to go to one place and get everything I need at pretty low prices. I like their 5% back credit card and their cool red circle logo. Yeah, I’m pretty much drinking the Kool-Aid.
On the other hand, I love little funky art galleries, book stores, and boutiques. They have character and flair and variety. I know the plants at a good nursery are WAY better than the plants at Wal-Mart.
Yet – where do I most often shop? Target.
What exceptions do I make? The little stores where they know me. Where they make a big deal if I come in. Where they call me if they run a sale or get something in that I like. These are the same restaurants I go back to over and over – places where they remember me and make me feel special.
How many places can I think of that do this? Three. The Lindt store in Crabtree Valley Mall, Bella Monica (a restaurant I love), and my BB&T branch (just my branch). That’s it. Three.
Most small businesses I frequent can’t even be bothered to greet me when I walk in. They don’t track my information even if I make a purchase, so they never contact me again. They don’t make the slightest effort to help me or to get me to return. Yet they expect me to make a special trip to their place of business, pay higher prices, and take more of my time to keep them in business. I’ve gotten to stores 15 minutes before closing to have their employees tell me they were closed. Think I’m going back? Ha!
Customer service alone won’t keep a small business in operation, I’m not naïve. But most small business provide terrible customer service and then wonder why Target crushes them. If you’re a business owner and reading this – are you lying to yourself about your level of customer service? Do you even have a database of your current customers? If you don’t even know who they are, how can you really serve them? I know Target doesn’t know who I am. But the women at the Lindt store do. And when they call, I come.