osie to the Fair Trade Rescue

You bet this is personal!

The need for reinvention to serve the customer – from transactions to relationships.”  Read more about Inger’s Business Raw-“How Well is Your business Connected Emotionally?

My view on Customer Service and Social Media’s affect on how companies CAN do business!

I could go on for days about this subject! Especially since my childhood was spent living and working with my parents in a family owned and operated grocery store!

I remember so vividly that my father was extremely adamant about teaching his employees and my brother and I that “THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!” I remember this so clearly as a child. It had such an strong impact on me because I could see the intensity in my father’s actions and his eye’s that this was serious. It was crucial for his business to survive which meant that it was crucial for US to survive!

As I got older, I was allowed to participate in more alluring and prestigious jobs and responsibilities at the store.  We worked our way from the floor up; first we stocked the shelves and faced the cans, then we were allowed to sack the groceries for customers and carry them to the car, then the “glamourous” position of Cashier/Checker and finally more financial responsibilities of counting the closing cash and reporting to the accounting books. I truly learned how and why to run a business at a young age. This was responsible for my pursuit of a Business degree and spawned my interest in Customer Behavior Sciences.

Customer Service and the relationship to Competition in business is tightly interwoven.  It was the Alpha and Omega of our little family business as it is to every other business world wide!

Which gets me back on track to Inger’s blog topic! Yes, I have had many different experiences in the field of customer service that I know I have experienced differently than most other people because of my shaded view due to my background. With age I have really tried to moderate my EXPECTATIONS, which I think has been my salvation for survival in Norway! Sorry, I really don’t like to focus on the negatives with different cultures. I would rather learn more about the history and evolution of the Merchant/Customer relationship and with this try to either ride out the growing pains or offer working solutions.

Unfortunately, I recently experience a terrible customer service episode with ARK.no, online book store. I have been hesitant about writing on my blog about the experience before I could offer sound suggestions for the company to make changes and improvements.

 The quality of Customer Service is directly related to the level of market competition!
  • Competition Drives Loyalty
  • Competition Increase Self-Awareness
  • Competition Drives Differentiation
(As technology continues to increase, the marketplace will become increasingly competitive, no matter what industry you’re in. Quality customer experience will prove to be the biggest differentiator for many companies. What will you do to stay ahead? )
 
ARK.no please take notes!

Basically, the short version of my story is that ARK.no advertised a book set but only deliver one book(of course the cheapest of the two!) This experience is a good example of a totally unacceptable business practice and lack of focus on Customer Service.

-I tried calling, writing two emails that were mysteriously never received and calling three more times before a negotiation was considered by the retailer. I took screen shots of their webpage where the product was described and outlined the situation in emails. I was told by two different “customer service” assistants that it was an understandable misunderstanding from my side and I was encouraged to purchase the additional book! At this point I lost every form of tolerance for cultural differences and  EXPECTATIONS. The retailer had crossed a line of ethical business practices that I was not prepared to tolerate.  I was insulted as a customer. Yes, it was personal!  I felt like the retailer was dishonest and was trying to cheat the customers. At that time while on the phone with the second assistant, (now I had changed over from my attempt to speak in Norwegian to English) and  I unsympathetically unleashed a wrath of unethical business practice accusations. Their website was misleading,  dishonest and an illegal misrepresentation of advertising.  I realized that this company was not accustomed to any form of deviations or exceptions to their standard business practice. But as a customer acting in good faith, I was not able to accept their vision or lack there of Customer Service as viable option. Long story short, I was left with no other option than to negotiate my way to get at least one of the two text books that I had supposedly already purchased!

Ironically at the same time I was experiencing the battle of Customer Service with ARK.no, they had just launched a TV campaign touting their focus on their Customer Service department! “HA! Put your money where your mouth is!”

At the end of my negotiation telephone conversation, I suggested that ARK.no make an investment into a responsible Web editor that could monitor the credibility of the content on their website.  Do you think that is too much to ask for companies operation on web based sales?

I would love to continue this discussion and further investigation of the topic “Evolution of Marketing”.  I remember the pivotal influence in my pursuit of a business education after my first class in Marketing when introduced to Philip Kotler’s text book, “Principles of Marketing”(now in it’s 13th edition!!!). I loved the idea and science behind why consumers make the purchasing choices that we do. The book covered the concept and the history of marketing evolution in the U.S. and commented that most other countries were several years behind the U.S. in the process.

Luckily I reflected on this phenomena when I first moved to Norway 26 years ago and I am now amazed at the steep learning curved that Norway has had to endure to evolve into a modern internet  and web competitive sales environment.  Think about the amount of change this small isolated market has been impacted with the influence created by the world wide web!

Internet marketing and social media are an undeniable accelerator of change in the business world and the impact is proving to be to the advantage of the voice of customer. So yes, it is there is a shift in paradigm from transactions to personal experiences!

Let me know if you have any input of the following subjects! Some interesting future topics should be:

Customer Service OR Customer Rights and/or Expectations?

The evolution of Marketing and benefits of Competition?

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