Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is This Happening In Your Business?

My friend, Chris, had an interesting experience with a specialty retailer the other day. I'll let him tell you in his own words...

I went for a long bike ride the other day and stopped at a bike shop I'd never been to before to buy a mirror. Asked a question, got an adequate (if cursory) answer, bought the mirror, and left to assemble it in their parking lot.

And as I did I thought: I am a new customer with a new bike, with more gear to buy, and they made ZERO effort to get to know me. No questions about my bike, or where I was going on it, where I was from, nothing.

Yet, I heard a radio ad for them yesterday. ...they will invest money in an ad but will not invest two or three minutes getting to know me. It makes no sense, and speaks to an enormous lack of curiosity, a laziness, that plagues our age.

And here's the thing: they sell commodities. Even their nicest bikes and gear can be found elsewhere, in other shops or online. The only thing they can do to become something more than commodity brokers is, as Seth put it, to be more human.

Why won't they do that?


Chris tried to answer his own question with the thought that maybe they didn't want to put forth the effort for somebody they didn't believe would ever be back in the store. Or maybe they didn't want to put the effort into educating the customer only to have that customer take the info and go online to save a few bucks.

Are our customers training us to give poor customer service for fear if they get good information they might never come back?

My response to Chris was that education is the bond that brings customers back because they will have more questions. If you answer their questions well the first time they will be back the next time.

About 50% of the retail customers in any category shop based on trust first, then price and all that other stuff next. The other 50% shop first on price. And every person has categories where trust is our number one decision maker and categories where price is our number one factor.

People talk about the Internet as being this vast wealth of information. And it is. What people need, however, is a guide to sort through that info and pull out only what is relevant.

In retail that relates to not just knowing your product info (features & benefits) but understanding your customers so well that you consistently find the benefit that makes the most sense to them. That is how you earn their trust.

Sure, some of your customers will be price-first. But some will be trust-first. And you never know which is which. So try to earn trust with ALL of your customers and consider that 50% of them will simply be training fodder to help you be better so that you can win the hearts (and pocketbooks) of the other 50%.

-Phil Wrzesinski
http://www.philsforum.com/

PS To understand more about how Trust and Price play a role in customer buying habits, read this post.

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