Two kinds of customer experience: Which one would you choose?
Quite a few years ago, I had two very contrary experiences in two different retail stores (one of them a few more years back than the other). I have kept them in my memory ever since for being examples of good vs. bad salesmanship. Let’s have a look at the first story…
The photo store experience
Experience number one took place in a store where I had left quite a few bucks as an adolescent for camera gear and film processing. Every advice I had ever gotten from the customer service there was “buy it from us and you won’t have trouble”. A few years later, I had just bought my first digital camera from an online shop and had a little problem with the lens hood. I walked in at that store to let the guy have a look at it.
Before I had finished explaining my problem, the guy (in his fifties) asked: “Did you buy this camera from me?”
Me: “Well, no, but…”
Him: “Then don’t bother me with it!”
It was like him telling me without words to fuck off.
He had just saved himself two minutes of his time, and as I walked out, I was convinced to never again set a foot into that store again. Haven’t had to go out of my way to keep that resolution!
Sure, you might think, this guy doesn’t want to offer service for things bought from online stores. Which is completely justifiable.
But let’s have a look at experience number two:
The snowboard store experience
I had just ordered a snowboard with a small flaw from the bay for a very reasonable price and wanted to get a second opinion whether that defect would cause me trouble. I took the board to the local store where I had been buying some clothes now and then.
The guy (in his early twenties) had a close look at it and reassured me that I wouldn’t be getting any trouble at all with it.
His words were like “Wow, what a good deal! It’s a great board that I love to ride myself! Definitely go for it!”
I ended up with the best snowboard I could ever wish for (which I probably wouldn’t have bought at a regular price, and which I enjoy riding still today) and some bindings and boots from that store. Needless to say that I walked in there many times after that to buy stuff, and I brought my friends along with me!
Conclusions to draw
What lessons can we learn from this? Actually, a few very basic things, but they seem too easy to forget :)
- Embrace change, don’t fight it.
You can’t stem the tide, and you can’t keep people from buying somewhere else by denying them your service. Don’t try to force them to buy from you, it will work in the opposite direction.
- Build trust.
If you promise something, deliver. Be warm and ready to help. Don’t be narrow-minded when it comes to details.
- Invest in a good and personal customer relationship.
Smile, and go the extra mile. Make your customers happy. A happy customer will return, recommend you to his friends, and gladly spend a few bucks more because he knows it’s worth it.
- Be cool!
They won’t appreciate you for your restrictive service policies. But they’ll simply love you for being the helpful, caring and easy guy you are!
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