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creative living for big and little kids

WHEN THE CUSTOMER IS NEVER RIGHT

customer is never right picture

Does anyone else have a problem buying gifts for men?

With three sons and a Hubby, it seems like a constant challenge to come up with the right gift.

This year I wracked my brains right up until the week before Hubby’s birthday to come up with a thoughtful and caring gift – only to be talked out of buying it.

Do you ever get the impression salespeople don’t actually want to sell you anything?

Normally super organised when it comes to birthday and Christmas gifts, I was having a mental block when it came to Hubby’s birthday. Inspiration didn’t strike until the week before when I thought about buying him an electric shaver as his skin has become sensitive from having many skin cancers treated.

Filled with excitement and gratitude at finally coming up with something, I went to The Shaver Shop at our local shopping centre.

I told the salesperson what I wanted – an electric shaver that was good for sensitive skin.

WHEN THE SELLER REFUSES TO SELL

 

customer is never right picture

She pointed out one that was well over $300 and I explained I didn’t want to spend that much as I was unsure if Hubby would even use it, having always preferred a simple stick shaver.

Surely there was a cheaper alternative? Apparently not. That was the only one in a shop full of shavers, all of which were on sale (except that one!).

I pleaded a bit for an alternative (I was down to the wire time-wise) but she held her ground.

WHEN THE CUSTOMER IS NEVER RIGHT

“It’s not just my job to sell you something,” she said.

“I’m here to educate you as well”.

I resisted the urge to tell her if I wanted an education about shavers I’d go to the appropriate school – is there even such a place as shaver school?

Instead, I left the store empty handed, went to Big W and paid a third of the price for a shaver that advertises it is perfect for sensitive skin.

I did this without the assistance of a sales assistant.

Unbelievable that a person who is paid to sell actually talks customers who are desperately eager to buy, out of the purchase.

I truly hate to be talked into buying something that I’m not interested in, or that will not work for me, but by insisting on recommending only the most expensive option, this woman lost a sale. She also lost a customer, as I will not return to that store. She may lose other customers, as I will spread the word.

What ever happened to “the customer is always right”?

I’ve worked in retail and have dealt with the public enough to know how very annoying it can be. However, it’s a crazy time for stores to be losing customer service when so many people are already rejecting them for the convenience of online shopping.

WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR PRODUCT

One of my daughters-in-law recently went to Baby Bunting to buy a new car seat. This is a store that specialises in baby products so you would think the staff would know what they’re talking about.

DIL was looking for a seat that would keep her five-year-old daughter harnessed until she is eight. The shop assistant told her the Goddess was too big for a car seat and it was safer to have her in a normal seat belt, despite all evidence from doctors saying the opposite.

DIL, who has done a lot of her own research on the safest way for young kids to travel in cars, then showed the shop assistant how the car seat extended to cater for taller kids, something the salesperson should have known.

The experience left DIL wondering how many kids were in the wrong car seats because the shopkeepers had no idea what they were talking about.

AND THEN THERE’S THAT MISSING R

Do you remember my missing R? If you missed it, read R is for Ridiculous – remarkable rambling and raving.

Twice I went to the place of purchase, Harvey Norman, only to have that naughty letter behave perfectly – much as the sick dog makes a magical recovery when you get to the vet.

I typed, the staff typed, and that R was there every time.

 

customer is never right picture

The staff told me there had been similar problems with other laptops of the same brand. They decided the problem must be with my notebook and not the keyboard and recommended I do a total restore.

Fortunately, I listened to advice telling me not to do this as it is a major hassle and I would probably lose information.

Then someone I know at another branch went to bat for me. By now the notebook and keyboard were out of warranty but under a special product care, I had paid extra for.

When my friend asked for copies of my invoice at the branch where I purchased the notebook (Penrith branch), the computer salesperson asked her why.

She explained she would organise a replacement for me from her branch as they seemed unwilling to help.

The sales guy told her they had offered me a replacement but I had stormed out of the store and that I didn’t know how to type (I was hitting the keys too softly apparently) which is why it wasn’t working.

Aside from the obvious contradiction, this was, of course, a lie. My friend explained her relationship to me and was answered with a guilty silence.

The happy end result is that I have a new keyboard which works perfectly – no reset required.

The downside is that this is another store I won’t return to – one at which, over the space of a few decades, I had been a loyal customer for furniture and electrical needs.

It is interesting to note that statistics recently released puts Harvey Norman in second place for the top 20 most complained about businesses in New South Wales.

THE IMPACT OF BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE

customer is never right picture

Who knows what impact the way you treat others could have?

I’m reminded of a story about the Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer, in search of food after a late night at a casino.

The first restaurant he stopped at was closing and would not serve him so he went to the next one and the staff there did serve him, though that restaurant was also closing. Packer gave the waiter a £10,000 tip asking him to “make sure your mate down the road gets to hear”.

We don’t all have the luxury of such riches but we do have a voice and a choice.

As consumers, we can choose where to spend our time and money and we can let others know when we’ve been treated unfairly.

As salespeople, we have a responsibility to act with integrity and care.

To quote Robert Louis Stevenson; “Everybody lives by selling something”. You could be selling a product, a brand, a service, an idea, or a persona.

How we treat the people we sell to not only impacts our financial success in life but also our personal lives.

What has your worst sales experience been?

Have a gleeful week, Tamuria.

 

 

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32 Comments

  1. Tami,

    Greta article and love the photos. I learned a lot about taking careof the customer and feel that you should give your best to the them Thanks for this article.

    Lori English
    Lori English recently posted…Consistent and Easy Ways to Improve Self -EsteemMy Profile

    • Giving your best to the customer is definitely the way to go if you want to grow whatever business you’re in, Lori. I think the key is hiring staff who actually care about this.

  2. I agree. I rather do the research and then go to the store and buy what I want. No need to sell me anything or educate me. Though, if I have time, I don’t mind them telling me some information about the product. But, if I don’t have the time, just sell me what I want.

    • Absolutely Sabrina, and don’t try to force the most expensive option onto a customer and risk losing the chance of any sale.

  3. I love this, Tamuria. So true, as Stevenson said, we’re all selling something. And so true as well: “How we treat the people we sell to not only impacts our financial success in life, but also our personal lives.” We all have to look in the mirror.
    Nice post!
    Susan Mary Malone recently posted…You Think You’re a Failure in Life? So What?My Profile

  4. I’ve come to LOVE it when I actually have a wonderful and encouraging experience with a sales person, Tami! The not so good ones number in the hundreds. Often if I have a great sales person, I make sure to let their supervisor know, as too often they only hear the complaints and not the compliments. As retail is struggling, I imagine they are cutting back on staff and this sadly creates a self-serve world. There are a few companies I deal with who I admire for their commitment to customer service, as when I call them, not only does someone answer immediately, but they are more than willing to help! Rare indeed though.
    Beverley Golden recently posted…3 Wildly Popular Health Myths—That Aren’t TrueMy Profile

    • It is wonderful when you come across those gems, Beverley. Like you, I always try to let managers know when a staff member has been really helpful. It’s important to give that credit and recognition when you can.

  5. The customer/client is always right, except when they’re not.

    I believe that, as professionals, we should treat our clients with respect and care. We should deliver what we promise and be in integrity around providing whatever they pay us for. However I believe, equally, that our clients have the same responsibility to us. In direct service businesses, like coaching and consulting, we trade our knowledge, time, and life energy to help our clients succeed. They are not responsible to us but they do have to commit to the process and show up to do the work and I have had a handful who were not forthright.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…Content Marketing Strategies for More ClientsMy Profile

    • Customers who refuse to do the right thing is worthy of its own post, Rachel. I’ve worked in retail and also dealt with the parents of my art students who expected way more than my school was offering, so I understand the frustrations of dealing with the public. It must be frustrating for coaches and consultants when people expect miracles without putting in the necessary effort.

  6. Well those are certainly some bad experiences! I can’t recall my worst shopping experience, but when I do come upon a sales person who is terrible at their job, I’ve got to assume they are unhappy or that they should quit their job.

    Being a personal trainer and owning 3 studios, I’ve dealt a lot with the public and could tell you some pretty outrageous stories about crazy customers too! 😉

    • Yes, I’ve had some pretty shabby experiences with customers too, Lisa. I think you’re right about the sales people who are rotten at their jobs – they are unhappy and should probably find another form of work. A good manager would offer incentives to ensure their staff were well educated about the products and also how to deal with the public.

  7. Wonderful article Tami about customer service. I have a friend who is a mystery shopper and she regales me with incidents of poor service she has to report on. There are some businesses that take customer service seriously and it’s always enjoyable to return there. The best way is to shop with your feet and never return. Maybe those guys will get the message.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…7 ways your business brain responds to infoMy Profile

    • I’ve always been fascinated with the job of mystery shopper and for a while thought it would be fun. These days I’m kind of over rude people, particularly in stores where I’m trying to buy something, so it’s probably not for me.

  8. I can’t recall a terrible sales experience but I can comment that when I pick up the phone & the salesperson does not speak clearly, I’m done. I wonder how some get hired at call centers when they don’t seem suited for the job. Same is true in stores. Most salespeople do not know their products. If I need help, I want a knowledgeable person. I love your examples.

    • Oh, that really does my head in Roz. If you are going to call me and try to sell something, at least speak clearly so I can understand. A lot of the call centres are based overseas and the callers have strong accents which can make it particularly difficult to understand them. They are so intent on reading their spiel you can’t get a word in to tell them you can’t decipher what they’re saying – so frustrating. It’s very important salespeople know their product, especially if they are selling life-saving equipment such as child car seats.

  9. I have had good and bad. I have been been on both sides too. It is a communication, knowledge, respect, and humankindness that is needed for all. We always get an opportunity to learn from each experience regardless of the position. Sorry you had just difficult experiences, I know that is frustrating.
    Teresa Salhi recently posted…Woman Entrepreneur – Why Doing It Alone HurtsMy Profile

    • I so agree that every experience is an opportunity to learn, Teresa. I did find those experiences frustrating but also felt sad for the salespeople involved. Clearly, they are not working in their dream jobs because when you are, going the extra mile is so easy.

  10. I just had a wonderful salesperson at the hardware store the other day. Then I regularly have teenagers at the grocery store who are too busy talking to each other to ring up my things or bag correctly. It frustrates me, and sometimes I’ll mention it to a manager – not to get them in trouble, but because I like the store, and if I can, I’d like to help them improve. I want people to have a good experience going there.
    Kimberly recently posted…[VIDEO] What’s The Atmosphere Like At Your House?My Profile

    • The wonderful salespeople really stand out these days, don’t they Kimberly? When I’m treated extra well, or extra badly, I often let the manager know as I would like to know what my staff was up to if I was running a business with employees.

  11. Love the stories, Tamuria – so much fun in hindsight – not so much fun when they’re happening! It is utterly incredible that the sales person refused to sell you a shaver! She must have read in a manual somewhere that she will build customer loyalty that way. Boy, did she read the situation wrong. Did your hubby like the shaver you got him?
    Reba Linker recently posted…Heal Your Midlife CrisisMy Profile

    • So true Reba, those stories are fun in hindsight and I love regaling people with my shaver shop experience because it’s quite extraordinary. I really don’t know what her problem was but she totally misread me. Yes, Hubby loves the new shaver and it is doing the trick so all’s well that ends well.

  12. My mother was a customer service executive, so it was drilled into me. Unfortunately, it no longer exists. It’s almost as if brick and mortar stores expect to lose sales to online competition. But that’s no excuse for rudeness, it which you were subjected. And, unfortunately, it seems to be a generational thing. Too many young people were raised to think they are “special,” and they don’t know how to be gracious to others.

    • The rude attitude astounds me when I know young people are having problems finding jobs. I agree, Carol, many think are too special to show courtesy and respect.

  13. Really enjoyed your stories Tamuria, thank you for sharing your experiences 🙂 I can totally relate, as I have had a few of those salespeople who just try to “educate” and end up NOT selling a thing lol Funny thing, I had heard that too about the “customer being right”, but never really 100% agreed, because after working in a Dunkin Donuts and having to deal with customers daily, it was my job to make sure to make them happy even if I felt they were NOT right lol Had to make them leave the store happy so they will keep coming back 🙂

    Great share!
    Joan M Harrington recently posted…Revealed The Simple Tactic to Get More People Addicted to Your BlogMy Profile

    • I have worked in various retail jobs Joan, and have to agree, some customers certainly do not deserve to be treated as if they are always right when they are so clearly not. 🙂 However, the onus is on the salesperson to keep the customer happy so they will return.

  14. “Find products for your customers.” Sheesh. I have beat my head against a wall for 4 years, trying to find customers for my products. Finally — as hard-headed as I am — I’ve reached the point with Seth Godin’s quote makes sense. Better late than never, right?

    • That can be a tough one when we already have a strong idea about what we want to offer, Jackie – even if it’s not what the customer wants. I think it takes most of us a bit of time to get this one right.

  15. Indeed. We all want to be heard. To have our needs met in a transaction is what we are looking for. I’m all for suggestive selling so long as listening is involved. If someone won’t listen to what I need, I’ll go elsewhere. Nailed it!
    Jennifer Quisenberry recently posted…Chocolate CAN be your best friend!My Profile

    • Yes, Jennifer, I think it’s the not listening part that was so frustrating. I’m open to suggestions but I like to be given options.

  16. Nothing can ever be more frustrating than Sales Assistants who don’t actually want to sell! I have experienced very poor and rude customer service more than enough times.

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