Stop Complaints Before They Start

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Yes, you’re a furniture retailer, but you’re also a consumer – which means you’ve likely fallen victim to the expectation gap.

What is the expectation gap? Simply put, It’s the space between what is expected and what’s actually delivered. And this gap could cause major issues for your business if not handled quickly.  

ABC News reported on common consumer complaints and household goods – like furniture and appliances - make the list. The top issues? Misrepresentations, failure to deliver and faulty repairs. Other areas of frustration included internet sales and the deception surrounding online goods, along with retail sales and the false advertising, deceptive practices and defective merchandise.  

And, while It’s true that your store isn’t responsible for faulty assembly from the manufacturer, there are plenty of ways to manage the client’s expectation to create a more satisfying buying experience. Because satisfied clients make referrals and return to buy more themselves, this is an easy area of maintenance that garners additional sales.

To reduce the number of complaints from clients:

1. Employ New Technology

Whether it’s a new POS system or a communication tool that makes it easier for your staff to do their job on the floor, new technology is an easy way to provide shoppers with the answers they need quickly and easily. Just be sure that you’re using a tool like Amber Engine to populate your devices with accurate and up-to-date vendor catalog data. This ensures that your sales team can answer questions about the furniture’s size, weight, fabrics and more.

The alternative? Your client receives a 48-inch width chair when their space called for a 38. The expectation? A chair that fits their space. The reality? A chair that’s size was misrepresented because your team didn’t have all the facts. Now, the chair doesn’t fit and can’t be used – but worse still, a new set of annoyances and inconveniences that make them question your store’s credibility and tell all of their friends on social media about the horrible experience they had with you.

When you use new technology equipped with accurate data from Amber Engine, the chair arrives in the size promised, without worry or hassle. The client then floods social media with pictures of their new chair and a glowing report of how easy it was to work with your team. #loveit

2. Complaint Log

Whether you have an existing “complaint and solution” log or you’re just starting one today, it’s imperative to keep track of what’s causing your store problems so you can go about fixing it. This also serves as a reference book for employees facing a challenge when a manager isn’t readily available to help.  

If you do have an existing log, take some time to look back through the challenges and frustrations that have plagued your shoppers in the past. Are these issues that could be solved with Suggestion One? If you routinely see “wrong size,” “wrong color,” “product not as expected,” it might be time to insect your vendor catalog data.

When the information in your system is incorrect, your team simply relays the incorrect information to clients – mistakenly setting a false expectation. It truly pays to ensure your product information is correct.

3. Don’t Overpromise

It’s tempting to fudge the truth a little in the name of closing a sale. But, doing so only damages your store’s reputation. If the table won’t be available for another 3 months, share that hard truth with your guest. Yes, it’s disappointing, but it’s devastating to believe that they will receive the table in 2 weeks when they really have 2.5 more months of waiting to do!

When bad news is inevitable, be ready with a solution. “The table you love isn’t available until XYZ date, but here’s something similar that meets your size requirements and can be here in ABC timeframe.”

You see, when you keep your systems up-to-date with pertinent product information, it’s easy to provide customers with the answers they need to make informed buying decisions.

When your store manages customer expectations with accurate product information, clear timelines, more solutions and optimistic realism, you build trust and form a deeper relationship that will serve your store well into the future.

If you would like some help brushing up the product information or vendor catalog data in your system, Amber Engine is happy to help. Just send us an S,O.S. and we’ll make sure that help is on the way!

In case you missed the first articles in this series, check out:

1:5 It’s Time to Talk About Time

2:5 Change is Good

3:5 Better Data, Better Sales