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Thread: Customer Service Practices in the Furniture Industry

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    High Point, NC
    Posts
    259

    Default Customer Service Practices in the Furniture Industry

    Duane,

    I am commissioning a study of customer service practices within the furniture industry. The plan is to take 10 furniture retailers and comparatively examine how they react to routine and not-so-routine customer service situations that can come up in the course of business.

    Each of the 10 studies would be published independently and then all would be combined into a single blog.

    At this point I am thinking that the study might need to be separated into in-stock sales vs. special orders. As you know, a company's customer service handling of a special order can be very different from the way they treat an in-stock order.

    Of the 10 stores to be surveyed, I am currently thinking of including:

    1. IKEA
    2. Ashley
    3. CSN.com (probably the largest exclusively on-line furniture retailer.)
    4. JC Penneys
    5. Simplicity Sofas

    I would like to include The Keeping Room, if you have no objection.

    I would also like suggestions from you and your readers as to the other 4 furniture retailers that should be examined in this study. (We need 1 or 2 more well-known high end retailers.)

    Even if you decide to opt out of this project, I would love to have your input and the input of others on this forum concerning good questions that these companies could be asked.

    For example, in a hypothetical situation, a customer receives a special order sofa but complains that the fabric is not exactly the same as the swatch they ordered from. They want to return the sofa for a refund. What do you do?

    Looking forward to reading some interesting responses.

    Jeff

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Alexandria VA
    Posts
    15,951

    Default Re: Customer Service Practices in the Furniture Industry

    Sure Jeff, glad to help! You've got some pretty large operations on your list, do you think they will participate?
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Lakewood Ranch, Florida
    Posts
    243

    Default Re: Customer Service Practices in the Furniture Industry

    Jeff,

    I wonder if you will get realistic answers or PR/marketing responses, particularly from the big time chain retailers you have listed. In addition, I would suspect the responses would vary by store within a chain/region, and would be greatly influenced by local conditions (store management, location, local practices, etc.) Certainly a Boyles would be more apt to give good support for local NC purchases especially with local manufacturers than say a JC Penneys store located in NJ might with the same NC manufacturer. My point is the data you collect may be very difficult to analyze and draw accurate conclusions. Also, the customer service responses will be difficult to validate so you will need to design your survey carefully or use professional pollsters to help.

    Good luck, I'm looking forward to hearing more about your project and the results of your efforts.

    Larry

  4. #4
    organic_smallhome Guest

    Default Re: Customer Service Practices in the Furniture Industry

    Hi Jeff. Interesting project. Most people in my area (New England) tend to buy furniture from well-known regional, rather than national, stores. A really, really big one here is Jordan's Furniture (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon once said in an interview that one of the things they miss about living in the Boston area is the Jordan's radio ads). People from all over New England purchase from them. My experience is that their customer service is superb. Another big one one is Bob's Furniture: basically crap from China. I'm guessing that, despite their popularity, their customer service is awful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    568

    Default Re: Customer Service Practices in the Furniture Industry

    I would look at national chains if you can, there are tons of regional furniture stores out there and really only people in that region care about the results. Unless you are trying to see if service varies amongst store-types (national, regional, local, non-chain). Suggestions on national brands - Macy's, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Thomasville, Ethan Allen. For regional; Havertys has stores in 17 states, Arhaus has stores in 13.

  6. #6
    hello23 Guest

    Default Re: Customer Service Practices in the Furniture Industry

    While admirable, your study may not be of much use because of the lack of validity. You should do a "blind" study. To do a blind study you study the retailers without letting them know that they're being studied. This is a little impractical because how do you instigate a customer service issue? Well, if you have a lot of money you could buy an item from each of the retailers, pretend that there is an issue, and begin begin the complaint process. By their reactions, you can then judge their customer service. Good luck!

    ____________________________
    log furniture

  7. #7
    bigrnm Guest

    Default Re: Customer Service Practices in the Furniture Industry

    That is a good point Hello23. You can not do a realistic study with preconceived answers already in mind. Also, if the study is not national, you might have to do several regional studies as well.

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