Monday, April 02, 2007

Good Service is All About Expectations

Mouse Print, a blog that tracks down sweet little marketing lies, wrote about customer service at Woot, and they're off base.

Woot, in case you're not familiar with it, is a site that offers one item each day for sales at rock-bottom prices. The items appear at midnight, are available until they run out, and are replaced by a different item at the next midnight.

Go to Woot on any given day, and you might see a DVD player, or a coffee maker, or who knows what.  

Mouse Print's complaint with Woot is that you can't return items as you would at another store. Well, what do you expect? They sell items for one day. They can't resell it. You're getting a super-cheap price (and the fun of seeing what's there that day).

And Woot tells you this before you buy it.

There's a place in the world for cheap but low service options like Woot. As long as you know that's what you're doing, the spartan customer service isn't bad, it's the deal you agreed to when you bought from them - and if you're not comfortable with it, you don't buy from them.

It's all about expectations. Woot is setting them accurately, and delivering what they promise. That's not bad service, or misleading.

And there's a little lesson there - despite the emotional appeal of crowing about your fabulous customer service (whether it's real or not), you don't have to be the service leader if that's not what you're good at. You can provide more basic service but better prices or faster delivery. You can provide no service but offer amazing deals.

The key is understanding what you can deliver and whether there's a market niche for it.

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