Globe University-Woodbury students in the Customer Services Strategies class travel to a local mall and to the St. Paul Farmers Market to compare customer service and to determine if customer service plays a role in the customer retention for a business.
The students were asked to compare the difference in customer service between the hourly employees at a mall and the small-business owners at the farmers market.
According to Instructor Thomas Hakko, numerous studies show that returning customers spend more money, and this directly impacts the profitability of a business.
The students put this statistic to the test by going into different stores at the mall to see how they were treated.
“The priority to ensure customer satisfaction seemed to be diluted and nonexistent at some stores in the mall,” said Kristina McMahon, business administration student. She continued by saying that she would rather shop online than take the time to go to the stores when they don’t even care if she comes in or leaves.
“Most of the store employees at the mall really don’t want to be bothered or they don’t have the authority to do anything if a customer would ask it,” said Edward Oberg, information technology student. “The mall did have a few stores that offered good customer service but all in all, the customer service experience at the mall is sub-par.”
All of the students agreed that the overall customer service at the mall was average to below average, especially when compared to the customer service they received from the small business owners at the local farmers market.
“The farmers market in Saint Paul was a completely different experience that encourages a long-term relationship. Everyone was very helpful and sincerely acknowledged my presence when I walked by. I bought a bar of soap from a farmer simply because he said, ‘smelling is free and encouraged’,” said McMahon.
According to Hakko, knowing your customer, giving value for the money they spend, and something as simple as a smile still go a long way to keeping a customer.
“We are training our students for careers in management, and we try to teach them how to motivate staff and customers,” said Hakko. “Overall the mall experience showed the difference between owning a business and understanding the importance of repeat business and just collecting a paycheck.”
This class trip was a great way to bring the real world into the overall course objective, according to Hakko. The objective of the Customer Service Strategies course is to focus customer service strategies that lead to a competitive advantage for the business organization.
“This was a superb way for students to study the interrelationships of customer service and other facets of what makes a successful business,” said Hakko.