Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shopping for a Fireplace Insert: Cold Customer Service

While shopping for a fireplace insert we visited a store that we had noticed because they advertised a lot on the radio and in the paper. It was a family run store so naturally I expected warm and friendly service.

Instead they greatly disappointed me.

We weren’t tire kicking. We had already decided that we would buy a fireplace gas insert. We had a beautiful fireplace and enjoyed sitting in front of a roaring fire. But we preferred the convenience of gas instead of logs.

We were willing to spend between $2500 - $3500. All we needed to decide is where would we buy and which model.

So how was our shopping experience at this particular store?

In short – horrible.

First, we were kept waiting about 10 minutes before anyone even acknowledged us. One sales rep even pushed by us (without apologizing) without offering to help.

The sales person who eventually talked to us - yapped and yapped.

I showed my displeasure with her approach and tried to ask her some questions. This is how she responded.

She defended - "No one told me about the special"
She made excuses, "I know my product - but I forgot that information"
She lied "everyone does it this way" when we had learned differently the previous day from a major competitor.
She interrupted me a few times while I was asking a question.

And the big trust stealer was - they wanted full payment before the work is completed. Their competitor only required a 50%`deposit.

I finally muttered "Never mind - we are leaving."

That sales person didn’t know what she did wrong. And that business owner didn’t know what they were doing wrong. They’ll probably blame somebody or something for their lack of business.

Curious that we next stopped at a Dollar store and spent $4. The cashier (who I assumed was the owner) was pleasant to both of us - even though I impatiently hovered while my wife bought. He spoke and looked friendly at each of us in turn and asked us both to come back.

I wanted to ask him if he had any fireplace inserts.

We eventually found a store where we bought our fireplace insert.

All the expensive radio and newspaper ads in the world will be defeated by poor customer service. Where should you invest your time and money first?

George Torok
Marketing Speaker


Friday, January 14, 2011

Pigs or Prudes - Who are your customers?

Are They Pigs?

This is not about passing judgement. This is about having a clear picture of your best customers. Who are they? What do they look like? What are their values? What makes them laugh? What annoys them?

How can you package your product to fit their values?

For example:

If they are pigs you might rave about the latest fart app. You might have it on your phone. You might review the top ten.

Consider that one of the biggest selling iPhone apps is a fart app. For $0.99 you can make your iPhone make a fart noise. Disgusting to some but shear joy to pigs. If your customers are pigs, they will love the fart app. It's selling over 10,000 downloads a day.

I guess that I'm a prude because I would not want that on my smart phone - and I would never have thought of that as a product.

Read more here:

Go ahead - pull my finger.

George Torok

Marketing Expert & Speaker


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bell Mobility - a new adventure

I bought a new Blackberry from Bell Mobility.

Two day’s later I receive a message from the store manager that they had accidently charged my credit card twice for the purchase.

He said that I needed to contact my credit card company and ask them to “dispute” the charge.

I experienced mixed thoughts. Why did they screw up? Glad that they noticed their mistake. Glad that they notified me. Why did they expect me to fix it? It was their mistake. Why didn’t they fix it?

Naturally I called him back.

During the short and apparently inconvenient conversation these statements from the store manager stuck with me.

“I don’t have time to talk about this now.”

“Finance emailed me and instructed me to call you to tell you to “dispute the charge with your credit card company.”

“One other customer also asked me why we don’t credit the extra charge and I don’t know.”

“I’m surprised that finance asked me to call you about the double charge. The company I worked with before simply waited for customers to notice the extra charge on their statement and expect the customer to dispute the over charge.”

Naturally, I responded to that last statement with, “Who did you work for before?”

His answer, “Rogers.”

I thanked him for notifying me of their error. I also pointed out that because it was their error I expected them to fix it by crediting my account. He claimed that he was unable to do that and repeated the instructions from “Finance” to dispute the charge. I pointed out that this would require time and effort from me to fix their mistake.

He was clearly out of his depth, ability and level of corporate trust.

I wondered, “How will this store manager ever learn about responsibility to customer service?”

He conveyed the message that he was doing me a favour by calling me and telling me what to do.

I called MasterCard and explained my strange request. The woman readily complied. I asked her if this was normal. “Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the seller to credit me for their mistake?” She agreed that “disputing” the charge required much more paperwork “but because this was Bell they would do it this way.”

Hmmm, I just signed a three year contract with Bell. I hope that I don’t regret it.

George Torok