Part 6: How Do You Know If Your Service is Superior?

Many specialty pool retailers believe their superior service is a strong advantage over other specialty retailers, mass merchants, Internet sites and catalogs. Here is a surprise…that is not what loyal specialty pool store shoppers (Loyalists) told us in our research.  


Recognition Gap 

According to the majority of Loyalists, service is not an advantage today. Only 38 percent of Loyalists see superior service being delivered by their retailer as an advantage. So not only is the “knowledge advantage” threatened (as I pointed out in my previous article), but the retailer’s perception of a superior service advantage simply does not exist for the majority of Loyalist customers.

Satisfaction Gap 

Although recognition is low among Loyalists, service is still an important key to value. Loyalists who perceive service as an advantage are 2½ times more satisfied with overall value from their specialty retailer than those who don’t. More than 70 percent are extremely satisfied. This implies that the service advantage is important based on the high satisfaction with overall value by those who get it. 

But overall dealer performance in this area is not much different than other outlets because not enough customers experience the advantage. This is a significant opportunity for improvement that could lead to more Loyalists and more revenue for specialty pool retailers.

Content, Consistency and Quality

Let’s remember that this survey data is about Loyalists, the retailer’s most important category of customers. Why in the world don’t more Loyalists see superior service as an advantage? This is another huge and critical gap to understand. Since 38 percent do see the advantage we might infer that the problem lies in one of these three areas:

• Whatever service retailers deliver, it does not have the same appeal to all Loyalists. In other words, one size does not fit all.

• Even if the content is appealing, the retailer is inconsistent in delivering superior service. Some Loyalists receive it; others do not.

• The quality of the service is erratic. Even the best service intentions will be wasted if the quality of delivery is poor.

Our research provides strong evidence of a significant gap. The right services delivered well can make a big difference in customer satisfaction with value and the strength of retailer/customer relationships. Unfortunately, not enough Loyalists recognize the advantage.

Your Turn

We determined that the majority of Loyalists do not see the service advantage of their retailer versus other shopping outlets. But from my experience, many retailers are likely unaware of this fact. Here are three questions to ponder:

• Faced with this evidence, are retailers willing to test their thinking, even though this may contradict their existing beliefs? 

• Can you share examples of when you have learned of service shortcomings, and what you did to improve them?

• How do you define superior service? Does this match your customers’ definition?

Please share your thoughts and comments! Your responses can truly benefit the industry.  

Read the previous post in this series: How Do Loyal Retail Customers Perceive Your Staff's Knowledge?

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