WMU News

Shoppers can influence the service they receive

Dec. 17, 2003

KALAMAZOO--When plotting the where and how of holiday shopping, your behavior will go a long way toward the customer service you receive.

"There is plenty of research showing customers behavior, positive or negative, is highly influential on the service they receive," says Dr. Wendy Ford, associate dean of the Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences and an expert in customer service communication.

Beyond the obvious signs of long lines, Ford says customers can quickly tell what kind of help they will receive when shopping in retail outlets from the time they step in the door. "If the store is disorganized, or unclean you're much less likely to get good service," says Ford.

Past history should also be your guide. "Stores known for good customer service are usually pro-active when it comes to planning for the holidays and will try to maintain that same level of service during the holiday rush," she says.

When ordering by phone, she gives the following pieces of advice: organize all relevant information, such as item number, second choice and size information, before making the call; call when you have sufficient time to wait; expect to be put on hold and make sure you have something else to do while waiting to greatly reduce your frustration and the likelihood that the service representative will become frustrated with you. If you need to talk through concerns or needs requiring individualized service, call during off hours. During peak hours, customer service representatives are required to follow scripts rigidly, in order to maximize order-taking in less time.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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