Sears has been in trouble for a while now, with an ancient business model and a seeming shortage of vision for the future.
They’ve been struggling in the traditional retail world for over a decade. And now, they are demonstrating that they also don’t have what it takes to compete in the world of e-commerce.
The bar, of course, has been set by Amazon.com, Indigo.ca and Zappos.com. Their sites are easy to navigate. Their delivery is fast and reliable. Their customer service is off the charts. Not the least impressive are their service recovery practices. When things go sideways, their teams are empowered to make things right. And with very few exceptions, they do.
The people at the very top of Sears need to be profoundly embarrassed. The board of directors needs to be embarrassed. This is a company that, 25 years ago, had one of the best reputations on the planet for their customer service, their policies ad their processes. Now, there is absolutely no-one who would hold them up as an example that any business should follow.
I’ve experienced their horrendous service levels first-hand. Most recently with an item I’m still struggling to get delivered. I’ve called their customer service line a half dozen times. I’ve been lied to and stalled. Nobody in the organization cares enough to do anything about it, nobody has empowerment, and they have no effective escalation process. Seriously? Who was it in Sears that decided that this was acceptable.
The sad part is that the fix wouldn’t really be that complex. All they really have to do is remember what it was like when they used to give a darn about their customers. Unfortunately, their time seems to be running out. Sears will soon the the object lesson of how your customers will stop caring about you as soon as they realize that you have stopped caring about them.
Shaun Belding is CEO of The Belding Group of Companies, and has been consulting in customer experience for over 23 years.
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