Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year trying to find new clients. In 2014, companies spent $180.12 BILLION on advertising, according to a report by Statista, most of that spent on digital advertising. You’d think after all that money, companies large and small would cherish those hard-won consumers. Instead, they take customers for granted and cause them untold grief.
Let’s take Jeremy’s case. Jeremy was shopping recently at a national big box hardware store; he needed some materials for a cabinet he was building. Jeremy went into the store looking for a specific type of wood, which had been advertised in the Sunday circular. He didn’t see it on display, so he went looking for someone to help. After 10 minutes of not seeing anyone, he finally found a guy in plumbing and asked his question. The clerk said, “I’m in plumbing. I don’t know anything about lumber. Let’s go to the manager and see if he can find someone to help you.” By the time they actually found the manager, Jeremy had now spent 45 minutes in the store and was very frustrated. The manager was not in his office, so they had to have him paged and when he showed up, he told Jeremy they were sold out. Now, Jeremy was just angry and he stormed out, went to the closest competitor, found what he needed in less than 10 minutes, paid less than he would have paid at the first store and went home to begin his project.
In another case, a big box electronics/appliance store was quiet when Darlene and her daughter walked in; they were in search of a new television. As they walked in, all the sales clerks were chatting at the checkout stand and didn’t seem to take notice of Darlene. She and her daughter went back to where the televisions were, figured out which one they wanted and went in search of a salesman. By the time they needed a salesman, three of the salesmen who were chatting before, were helping a man and his wife to find a refrigerator. Darlene approached the group and asked if anyone could help. The response? “Just wait, honey. We’re busy here.” Darlene marched up to the checkout counter and asked to see the manager. The manager came out and, upon learning what Darlene had experienced, he said, “Well, we don’t make money on looky-loos. We need to take care of paying customers before someone who is just looking.” In fact, Darlene had $500 cash to spend on her television. She took the money out of her wallet, waved it at the manager and told him he just lost a sale. He was unconvinced. Darlene and her daughter went across the street, were immediately helped and spent less than their budgeted $500 to get the television they wanted.
In both cases, the problem was training, starting with the manager and working its way down to the lowest employee. The manager’s attitude is often mirrored by the employee’s attitudes, so if the manager doesn’t take the time to train his or her people, or if the manager isn’t enthusiastic about the job, no one is going to come out of it well – not the manager, not the employees and certainly not the customer, who was the target of all those ads in the Sunday paper.
Think of the last time you were in a big box store. You’re trying to check out and there are only three registers open, out of a total of 12 possible registers. You’re standing in line because the store’s manager didn’t realize there are peak times throughout the day and that time is when you’re in line. But bad customer service isn’t just limited to shopping in stores. Here are some other cute little tricks businesses play with their customers:
- Consumer Ping Pong. How many times have you heard the story: “I called the company that installed it, but they said it’s the manufacturer’s fault. The manufacturer says it’s the installer’s fault. Now I’m stuck in the middle.” It doesn’t matter what the product or service is … whenever a consumer is stuck in the middle of “Consumer Ping Pong,” they feel helpless and abused, which is the last thing a company wants their customers to feel. With all the money a company spends on attracting one new customer, you don’t engender loyalty in a customer by telling them it’s someone else’s problem. Businesses need to make the customer’s problem their own, because ultimately it is. They need to do whatever it takes to solve the problem for the customer as seamlessly as possible. As the commercial says – when there’s a problem – just do it – fix it.
- Lack of Communications. One of the biggest complaints consumers have is once they hire a contractor or company, they can’t get return telephone calls or they never hear from the company again. If a representative of the company has a problem getting to an appointment when scheduled, call the customer. If there’s a problem of any sort, businesses need to make sure the consumer knows. The consumer may be upset for a short time, but it’s better than how upset they’ll be if they can’t get in touch with the company and don’t know what’s going on. For all you know, the company’s never coming back without a callback.
It gets so frustrating when your concerns aren’t acknowledged by businesses. Tomorrow, we’re going to look at what you can do to ensure the best results when dealing with a company, especially when there’s a problem.