Customer Service and Satisfaction

In the contemporary era, competition has increased as customers persistently expect retail businesses to meet and exceed their expectations. Due to the fact of homogeneity among the products offered by retail businesses, they are increasingly focused towards delivering effective customer services in order to gain competitive advantage. For such businesses, maintaining customer satisfaction and trust is vital to ensure repeat purchases by customers. As these businesses operate in a highly competitive environment, customers have many choices to switch to other retailers, in such conditions retailers are engrossed towards the study of factors that lead to customer loyalty and retention.

Retail business is a sort of trading in which a firm of business entity sell goods directly to the end users. These businesses have direct relationships with customers, so they are directly involved in providing goods coupled with services to the customer. In retail business, customer satisfaction and trust primarily depend on the quality of services provided as they sell homogeneous products, on the basis of which one store cannot be differentiated from others. The examples of retail business include supermarkets, grocery stores, book stores, convenience stores and drug stores.


Books-A-Million is a bookstore company also famous as BAM! (Books, toys and more). It is the second largest bookstore chain in U.S as the company operates almost 200 stores across the country. Apart from the goods they offer i.e. books, toys, stationary, etc. they are unique in their services. The bookstore has developed an online help desk for customer support. Customers can check the status of their order or gift card balance by visiting customer support website of Books-A-Million. They are quick in responding to their customers’ complaint and requests.

With intent to provide unique and superior services entailed with the prime products of the store, Books-A-Million strive to gain competitive advantage over other bookstores. The major strategy adopted by the book store is to achieve supremacy in providing quality and timely services to customers in order to generate repurchase intentions among customers. The customers’ repurchase behavior depicts their level of satisfaction with the services of the company, satisfaction or trust ultimately leads to customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.


Wal-Mart is a multinational retail company, operating a chain of discount stores and warehouse stores. It is one of the largest retail store chain operating 4177 stores in United States. The CEO of Wal-Mart stated that loyal and repeat customers are the key to generating profits of Wal-Mart Company. Moreover, he stated that customers are more loyal to our store because our associates treat them proficiently as compared to other stores. Wal-Mart has always focused on training and developing friendly associates who understand the fact that customer is the king and act according to customers’ needs. Adopting customer-centered policies Wal-Mart has been more successful than rival companies who are just focused towards increasing profits.

The service strategy of Wal-Mart includes employee appreciation at its core which ultimately leads to customer satisfaction. It has been argued that Wal-Mart is in the business of providing services to its customers while its competitors are in the business of serving their CEO. The core principles of Wal-Mart include: customer is the boss, providing value to customer, delighting customer, providing recognition to employees and concern for communities in which it operates.

Barnes and Noble

Barnes & Noble is also a retail company. It is considered as the largest bookseller company in U.S. and is the leading seller of digital media and scholastic products across the country. It operates 658 independent retail stores and 714 college and university bookstores. Delivering satisfaction and service quality to customers is the prime policy of the company. It also provides online status information to customers regarding their orders and record online orders and customer complaints and tends to respond as quickly as possible. The major purpose of these entailed services is to get customers’ satisfaction leading to customer loyalty and commitment to the company.

Customer Retention

In this era of highly competitive world, it has been become difficult for businesses to retain their customers especially for retail businesses because they deal in homogeneous products. In such competition, superior service quality is only the key to get customers’ satisfaction and trust. If the customer is satisfied with the services of a company, he/she will intend to repurchase products from that company. The customer’s repeat purchase behavior is an indicator of customer’s loyalty and commitment with the company and he/she will not intend to switch to any other company. It is evident from the research studies that service quality is the key to retain customers.

Share of Wallet

It is a marketing term that refers to the level of customer’s expenditures on a particular product or service offered by a company. The share of wallet of each product offered by a retail business can be calculated by tracking the sale volume of each product. This is a process that is used by organizations or businesses to calculate revenue generated from a particular customer. The share of each customer to the total revenue of the company shows the purchase behavior of each customer and frequency of purchases of particular products. A satisfied customer will contribute more to the overall revenue of the company.


Referral is also a marketing term, it is basically considered in context of word of mouth about a particular product, service or the company. A satisfied customer generates positive word of mouth about the company and refers his/her friends and siblings to buy products and services from a particular company. On the other hand, a dissatisfied customer generates negative word of mouth regarding the company which may results in losing existing and new potential customers.

Stock Market Performance

Stock market performance shows the individual and collective performance of the companies listed in stock exchange. The satisfied customers directly or indirectly increase the revenues and profits of the company which have a positive impact on the value of shares of the company and which ultimately lead to a superior performance of the company on stock exchange which is comprehended from the frequency of trading of shares of the company.

It is evident from the above explanation that in today’s competitive world, retail businesses strive to gain competitive advantage aiming to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This is only possible by providing superior services to the customers. It has been argued in the research studies that there is a significant and positive relation between service quality dimensions and customer satisfaction.

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Customer Centricity: Begin With Customer Service

One of the basic tenets of Customer Centricity is service. Why? Service is taking action to take care of someone else. More importantly, it is taking action to create value for someone else (Ron Kaufman). It is how one adds value to others and in the process, gains more of himself. In most cases (though not on purpose), people feel good about providing others a service, as doing so naturally entails a positive feeling within themselves. In essence, service is a spirit of altruism. It is not just a procedure to follow, but a mindset of purposeful engagement and proactive communication that leads to a productive behaviour.

Let us define Customer Service.

Wikipedia defines Customer Service as the act of taking care of the customers’ needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service, and assistance before, during, and after his/her requirements are met. One of my favorite Customer Service (CX) gurus, Michael Falcon, defines it as “an action within an entire customer experience; and to achieve an excellent experience, every touchpoint from beginning to end must be exceptional.” Take note that this definition of Customer Service gives rise to its particular ingredient, “touchpoint,” which means, every point of contact with a customer (face to face, phone calls, emails, ticket logs, etc).

On the other hand, Turban (2002), defines Customer Service as “a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction — that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer’s expectation.”

Apparently in these concepts given by the experts, common factors in Customer Service surface: action/delivery, care, and meeting customers’ needs. In addition, there is frequent usage of superlatives such as exceptional, excellent, highest quality, and the like.

In a nutshell, Customer Service is any action on all customer touchpoints, where we deliver our knowledge and abilities to customers to meet their needs and expectation in an excellent way. It is a cornerstone to a customer experience (CX) strategy. It is a balance of commendable acts between delivering service (which includes best practices and agent experience) and satisfying customers at a cost. It is about how an organization delivers its products or services in the most humanly satisfying manner, as pleasurable as possible.

What kind of service is needed then? Answer: we need superior service be delivered at any touchpoint, for “Good is no longer good enough.” To quote Ron Kaufman once more, “What was good enough for yesterday, isn’t good enough for today. What’s good enough for today, won’t be good enough for tomorrow.” This is so because of the fast-changing business world. It is very important to keep climbing the ladder of service level to keep up with the competitive environment. Being close to your customers and really anticipating their needs as even their wants and needs also change quickly. “The business world is always unpredictable,” as they say it. This gives us more reason to get even closer and know our customers even better.

With standards ever rising, how then do we give great or superior service? As mentioned, there should surely be a balance of sterling performances between the product (technical or otherwise) and experience (relationship aspect of our customer interactions). On top of this, we must make our customers a priority. One critical component of Customer Centricity is a customer-focused mindset (or for some people, “customer-first mindset”). Focus on them as people and not an issue to create a satisfying human experience. Superior/excellent customer service may not only result to Customer Satisfaction alone but more so, Customer Loyalty — the ultimate reward of Customer Centricity. Without a question, top-notch service creates loyalty and a returning customer, which is all our aim in business.

According to Mohandas Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This dictum is the foundation of any customer service definition and execution. We define service as any action taken to take care of someone. Hence, customer service should be executed in a way that takes care of our customers- whether internal or external. The truth is everyone in your business environment is your customer (they are your internal customers) and your external customers are the people who pay the bills that becomes a revenue of your business or company.

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