All Things Being Equal, Great Customer Service Tops Price

Lauren Krause
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Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world and arguably one of the cheapest. If price is everything, why doesn't everyone shop there? Customer service is vital, too. When all else is equal, the quality of customer service can persuade a consumer to choose one store over another.

People spend more in a shop in which they are comfortable, which is why mom-and-pop stores still exist. A store that provides a personal service is much more likely to succeed because people form relationships with other people. A friendly face who greets you by name is much more welcoming than a blank-faced cashier who has to greet everyone using the same phrase and give each customer a friendly farewell.

While Walmart and similar stores aim to provide a little bit of everything, the staff generally does not have that much product knowledge in terms of the store's merchandise. If you need a nice red wine to go with a steak dinner, it is unlikely that the employee stocking the wine aisle knows the difference between a merlot and a cabernet sauvignon. However, the person down at the local wine store probably does know the difference – and can recommend a specific type. The same could be said for every product, from art supplies to zoology textbooks. Customer service is about having and being able to present product knowledge in a customer-friendly form.

Trust is also a big component of customer service. Those who can inspire the trust of their customers are more likely to see returning customers. This explains why many people prefer to go to a small, local computer shop rather than a big corporation with faceless and replaceable staff. It is also helpful if your customer service anticipates issues before the customer experiences them.

Service speed is also one of the many areas where customer service falls down. Customers who feel as though they are being herded through a cattle chute do not feel appreciated, no matter how fast the service is. Instead, the majority of customers appreciate people who talk to them and display an interest in their lives – and remember it the next time they come in. That's great customer service, and it leaves a better taste in the customer's mouth than a melon that's 10 cents cheaper than the nearest rival.

While the major supermarkets and superstores trumpet their prices loudly, customer service is what actually gets people in through the doors and spending money. Customers expect to be able to find exactly what they need and to be out in reasonable time. In addition, they expect to be able to find someone to speak to if they need help. Customer service keeps customers coming back for more.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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