Thursday, October 11, 2012

Serve Yourself to SST Guarantees

Bricks-and-mortar retailing examples of self-service technologies (SSTs) include ATMs at banks and vending machines in merchandise stores. Internet retailing transactions are pretty much all SSTs. This fulfillment format can extend the hours in which products and services are provided, benefiting both the retailer and the consumer. Another joint benefit is the reduced dependency of the shopper on retail personnel being available.
     Researchers at Ohio State University and Australia’s Deakin University list ways in which sales completed with SSTs differ from those completed through conversations with a salesperson. The consumer must:
  • Be an equal partner with the retailer in completing the transaction 
  • Know how to use the SST system provided by the retailer 
  • Resolve problems with the transaction even when immediate face-to-face interaction with the retailer is not available 
     The last of these three creates particular opportunities and dangers. What determines which, say the Ohio/Deakin researchers, is the nature of any service guarantee assuring resolution promptly after a transaction goes awry. Proper service guarantees reduce consumer dissatisfaction, negative word-of-mouth, and store switching.
     The researchers propose characteristics for a proper SST service guarantee. Chief among these is that the guarantee be attribute-specific rather than unconditional. An unconditional guarantee says that the problem will be fixed no matter what the reason for dissatisfaction. An attribute-specific guarantee lists the reasons the retailer will take remedial action. It might be for late delivery of a perfect product or for inaccuracies in a prompt delivery, for instance.
     Here’s why I agree with the recommendation for attribute-specific guarantees:
  • Consumers are more likely to believe an attribute-specific guarantee. 
  • Listing the attributes allows you to describe again the benefits of what you offer, such as promising prompt delivery and flawless accuracy. 
  • In making your promise more specific, you protect yourself better against exploitation by unscrupulous shoppers. 
     Not that most shoppers are out to exploit you. On the contrary, the researchers say that when a large remedy—such as reimbursement for the entire purchase price—is made for what was a minor inconvenience—such as a vending machine taking a long time to respond—the consumer feels uncomfortable. If a bank offered to match with bank funds the amount of a flawed ATM withdrawal, the bank customer might start to doubt the fiduciary skills of the bank.
     Then, regardless of a guarantee’s conditions, urge SST customers to let you know about the problems so you can correct them.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Incorporate Vending Machine Technologies 
Guarantee with Care

No comments:

Post a Comment