Thursday, August 30, 2012

What to Do About Showrooming

We all have been showroomed.  The customer comes in, looks at your stuff, then leaves the store only to order the same items online.  Heck, maybe you have done some showrooming yourself.

I had a customer who came in, asked our opinion about car seats, had us show her how they all fit in her car, talked through options, how to install, how to keep the kid buckled in properly, and even how to clean up after a spill.  After several trips out to her car with car seats, she told us she would be back to purchase.  One week later she stopped in to ask if we could help install her car seat.  It was still in the box with the shipping label from the online site where she ordered it still attached!

Some of you are already hopping mad.  I understand your reaction.  I was telling this story to a friend who said her initial response would have been to refuse to install the seat, telling the customer to ask the online website where she ordered it to install the seat.

Here is what we did.

We gladly installed the seat.  We talked through all the options of where to place the seat, what is the safest way to travel with a baby, how to install the seat, how to adjust the straps, and then helped her get it properly installed in her car.  Then we invited her back if she ever needed help with that seat or any other seat.

Some of you might think I'm crazy.  We gained nothing from that customer, yet we spent valuable resources on her (our time, our expertise, etc).  She showroomed us.

The way I see it, she showed up.  She took the time to come to my store - twice!  Now it is my responsibility to make sure she has an awesome time at my store.  It is my responsibility that she gets phenomenal customer service whether or not she makes a purchase at that time.

Why?

Because I sell far more than car seats and she will need to buy far more than just that one car seat.  I may have lost the opportunity to sell that one car seat, but since she came back to the store, she has given me an opportunity to sell her other things she might need either today or down the road.

Because I treasure Word-of-Mouth advertising.  She may not have given me the sale, but if I treat her just as rudely as she treated me, she'll bad mouth me to everyone she knows (conveniently leaving out her own behavior).  If I treat her well, at the very least she has nothing bad to say, but more likely she will say something positive about us.

Because I like the challenge a customer like this presents to us.  You have heard the phrase,

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."  
One of my staff told me the other day,

"You can lead a horse to water, and if you can get him to float on his back, then you really have something."  
Customers like these are a great training ground for the staff.  If we can turn them from showroomers into customers, then we really have something.  If we don't, at least we got valuable training on what doesn't get work.

Don't look at showrooming as a problem.  Look at it as an opportunity.  Get those customers to float on their backs, and then you really have something.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS  If you don't feel you have the resources to help them or if your resources need to be spent on other customers, then do what you have to do.  But never ever stoop to the rudeness of your rudest customers.  That's a competition you can never win.

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