Friday, 16 December 2011

Are standards dropping?

Last week I had 3 complaints outstanding against 3 different large multi million pound companies.  One complaint about awful service, 1 about being over charged and 1 about damaged goods (the 3rd lot of damaged itemse i've had from that company in 3 orders!). 

I started to wonder why are we having to complain so much more, is it just because we are all so much shorter of money now that we expect more for our money?  Or are companies starting to drop their standards?

The notebooks I ordered from Peony and Thistle
I think that it's not only us smaller businesses who are being affected by credit crunch but the large companies too.  They are finding costs are rising but they are still expected to be competitive, especially as people are buying less and being a lot more price conscious.  We are now starting to see the effects in the service and quality of goods we receive.

The company that I received damaged items in 3 seperate orders from told me some of their usual suppliers had gone into administration so they were having to use a supplier they haven't used before and haven't had chance to quality check their work as much as they normally would.  Hence, an increase in damaged products being sent out and more complaints being received.  Others are just trying to cut corners to save money hoping that we won't notice.

When I posted a link to this post on Twitter Zoe Grant from Zoe & Drew said she'd been having problems with a well known supermarket and their customer service she tweeted ' The reason big high street & supermarket brands are losing profits is because they have forgotten how to look after their customers.'

However,  for us the good news is that we can really make our small businesses stand out by ensuring that our customer service and the quality of our goods is as good as possible.  Smaller businesses often compete with the larger ones on price, but we can more than make up for it with customer service.  We can deliver that personal touch, and leave our customers with quality goods/services and a happy shopping experience.

The fabrics I received from Dragonfly Fabrics
I recently purchased the pictured set of notebooks from Peony & Thistle on Folksy as a treat for myself on my 30th birthday. Not only did they come beautifully wrapped in a handmade enveloppe but Dorothy, the shop owner, had included a beautiful birthday card inside too.  It was the first order I have ever placed with her and I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.  That is the kind of personal touch that small businesses give that larger ones don't, and it pays off, a few weeks later I them ordered 6 more of these notebooks as Christmas presents.

Many of the fabric stores I have received fabrics from recently Celtic Fusion FabricsDragonfly Fabrics and Ecotale not only wrap their fabrics in delicate tissue paper but they wrap them with free ribbons, or include little extras like buttons or postcards with a personal message on ensuring that every customer is happy and will order again.  So much nicer than just something wrapped in plastic with a printed receipt or thank you note that every customer gets.

Now is the time to make sure that the service and quality of products we provide keeps people buying handmade and from smaller businesses whilst the larger businesses learn the hard way that they can't continue to cut costs and expect the same level of customer satisfaction. 

What do you think?  Have you noticed a change in standards lately?  Are you having to complain more?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


Lucy @ Charm About You said...

I have noticed a drop in quality certainly, I think so many things are being cheaply made and in many instances the service isn't what it used to be. I try to shop locally and support small businesses whenever I can and I agree that the service you get from them is generally outstanding and much more personal!

Peony and Thistle said...

Thanks so much for your lovely comments about our customer service! We're delighted that you've been pleased with it!

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Wendy said...

Unfortunately, I've also experienced bad customer service from some small on-line stores. I emailed 3 on-line fabric stores asking if they'd help me match a cross stitch I'd done to some co-ordinating fabric as it's almost impossible to do on a computer screen and I don't have an LQS. All three of them completely ignored me. I was then recommended to try the Eternal Maker who responded quickly and were really helpful. They've just gained a customer for life whereas the other three have lost me as a customer.

The Sewing Directory said...

That's one thing that really gets Wendy, people who don't get back to you at all, even if they are unable to help. It only takes a few seconds to click reply and say sorry i'm unable to help and at least it doesn't leave you with a bad impression of them.

If I get a query that I am unble to assist with I always reply and I try to suggest where they could get help.

Hopefully one day the big companies will learn that people don't mind paying a little more for good quality & service.

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