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  • Writer's pictureKate

Meeting the need of your customers is business 101!

Lets talk Customer Service and why companies Like Boots etc are having to close down stores and falling wayside of going into administration.

When we 'the consumer' buy from the high street large chain stores, we do so out of convenience. Usually there are cheaper places to buy from etc, but we are happier to pay more for a premium service.

So what is Boots offering over the hundreds of other alternatives, me, 'the consumer' have.

I have to admit since my youngest daughter was a baby, who is now 16, I rarely ever shop in Boots. Like hardly ever! Usually I pop in for something once or twice a year or I do a Christmas shop in there. However, recently I do use them, just because I buy a lot of bits and its easy to do it online and have it delivered to my door. Yes I get Boots points, sometimes they have offers on and I buy them, if its on a product I need.

But lets face it, Boots is bloody expensive! I get free delivery - Yay! However their delivery takes 3-5 WORKING DAYS!!!!

Let that sink in for a moment. A HUGE high street chain, takes 3-5 Working days to deliver.

So whilst 'the consumer' will now mostly shop online, and this won't really prevent the closure of some stores, are Boots really doing themselves a massive disservice.

They deliver Pharmacy to your door, so why not goods, the same day, from their local stores.

Now I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. I hate the fact that they are not great for smaller businesses, they are largely unethical, they treat their workers like crap and lets not ignore the elephant in the room, they don't pay taxes!

Yet as a consumer, Amazon offers me competitive pricing, varied choice, high quality products, delivered to my door for FREE the NEXT DAY! I can even order at 11.29pm, and voila my order is there within hours.

We now live in a 'right now' society. We are no longer happy to wait for food, or deliveries or services. We want to click our fingers and have what ever we require that moment, in our lap! Amazon have won me over as a customer, I buy most things from there now. The quality is outstanding, the customer service is exceptional and I can get the items I want, the next day, with no worries! Safe to say, Boots have now lost me as a customer, as a package that was due to arrive today (Friday), that I ordered on Tuesday, has been delayed due to Royal Mail. Now I know what some of you may think at this point, it isn't Boots fault that Royal Mail let them down. In one way it isn't, but in many ways it is. Had I ordered from Amazon, I would have had all my items delivered the very next day. Sometimes, but very rarely the order may be delayed a day, but they keep you informed. I decided to call Boots and explain that the lack of next day options is a massive downside to their business model, when their competitors can fulfil an order within 24 hours. Now this isn't an issue Boots side, as I know for a fact that the order had been picked and packed and sent to Royal Mail on the same day I placed the order. All Boots has to do is change their couriers. One simple change that could increase their online orders and keep their customers happy and deliver exceptional customer service. I speak for many when I say that the news of large high street stores going into administration is a scary prospect. If large, multi million pound companies are failing, where does that leave the smaller businesses. I always stress to business owners that you should never worry about your competition. Don't sit in earnest and watch them fail or succeed, as this ultimately takes the eye off your own business. I never suggest trying to be the same as the other salons around you, or offer the same things or have the same pricing or give the same customer experience. What you do need to do, is constantly adapt to the ever changing needs of your customer. Sometimes it's as simple as changing one small thing, like a third party supplier or even an employee.

Customers have managed to have it all good over the last few years. As companies have battled for business, the consumers enjoyed free gifts, free next day delivery, large discounts and more. The online review process has created a fear amongst companies, striving to achieve customer experience and exceptional service to avoid the plaque of the angry reviewer. Just think how much your own expectations have changed over the years and then apply that to your own business.

Think how new companies have sprung up over the years, companies that offer 'on demand' services or products for the consumer. An example is Just Eat and Uber Eats, a service created for ease, a click of the button, all card details stored so we don't even need to leave the house, the choice of 100 take aways, all delivered to your door within the hour! Most charge a hefty delivery fee of £1-£5 and then a service charge of 50p too! Yet these charges still won't see us contact the take aways direct, or go out and pick it up. We are in fact happy to pay more for a service if it benefits us. After all, the food is the same quality, the driver is the same, the distance travelled is the same, we are literally paying a few pounds more to not have to speak to anyone or reach for our bank card, or worse case scenario - leave the house for 10 minutes. What can you do to change and adapt to the new consumer demands? Offering premium services, at home, on demand services or easy booking options.

The businesses that understand the needs of the consumer will always survive and do well. Those that continue to do the same things day in and day out will see their businesses fail. As service providers we have to keep up with current trends and technology, celebrities and press coverage and meet the instant results clients expect from seeing social media posts, without realising the work, time frames and often costs that are involved.

Walk in businesses are now seeing surges in profits as clients want nails right now, or brow shapes this minute or a quick wash and blow dry. As the consumers needs change to wanting instant services you will see a rise in mobile at home services and walk in beauty and hair bars, that can serve the customer without the wait! I will also advocate to ensure you provide a service so exceptional that your customer will never want to leave, but team that with meeting their needs as well and you will create yourself a very good business model!

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