Have customer expectations gone down in this economy?
Consumers are expecting better deals for their money today, but are they expecting the same if not better service? With almost no pricing power today, companies are looking to ratchet down costs exactly at the same time they are trying to hold on to customers. Are customers demanding more services, or because of the economy, are they resetting their expectations?
In the last few weeks, people have been calling for a prolonged slump in the economy and more specifically in retail spending. What specific actions are companies taking? Less staff on the floor; on the phones, they are forcing customers to wait longer; and shorter store hours, which makes shopping more difficult for customers. Is this going to be accepted by the customer, or is this going to help the competitor as customers drive to or call a competitor with longer hours or more staff?
The challenge of Wal-Mart – I think Wal-Mart is throwing down the gauntlet – and trying to capitalize on the economy. In a Mercury News article about Wal-Mart, Anne D’Innocenzio writes:
“It’s more than just a cosmetic upgrade. That new breed of customer also spends about 40 percent more than the traditional Wal-Mart shopper, and the retailer senses an opportunity to accelerate its growth.”
Interestingly enough, call volumes for several companies that I know are picking up, leaving these companies in a quandary: should they hire more people, should they hire an outsourcer or should they just have longer wait times? All of the strategies are being deployed, but the question is, what do customers think? My worry is that customers expect better service, not less.