Here is a real-life customer-service interaction and lesson. I've had bad interactions with retail salespeople in the past, but this one takes the cake.
So, Here’s My Problem
I need windows for my house – about ten of them. The wood around them has rotted to the point that I need the whole window replacement, not just an insert. Our house is 26 years old, and when it was built, wood windows were pretty much the standard. Unfortunately, time and my lack of appropriate attention to detail has led to this issue.
It’s going to be expensive to replace these windows, so I wanted to check with several suppliers. Last Saturday, I visited four. The first two were window specialists. They were very helpful and explained options, costs and gave me literature.
Then I went to a major home-improvement center. The guy, again, was helpful, or at least as helpful as he could be explaining that the “window guy” was at lunch and, if possible, I should talk to him when he got back in half an hour.
He finished our interaction in a good way by asking my name and then said with a smile, “I’m Dave. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. If there is anything we can do, just let us know.”
Meet Mr. Know-It-All
It had become clear that this would not be an easy purchase decision, so I made one last stop at another major home-improvement store – a different chain – to see what they had available. Seated at the “windows desk” was the salesperson, an older gentleman who didn't appear to be busy with anything as I approached.
“Windows?” I asked.
“What about them?,” he responded not looking at me.
“I need some for my house. The wood has rotted around them. Let me show you what I’m dealing with,” I said as I pulled out my cell phone to show him a photo of the house just as I had at the other stores.
“I’ve been doing this for 45 years. I know what you’re going to show me,” he snapped.
Taken aback by his comment, I said, “Well... humor me if you will. Here’s the house. I’m replacing windows in this section. What have you got?” thinking it would be nice if he got off his chair and took me to the displays like the other salespeople had done.
“There’s all types,” he said, now looking at me but still seated in his chair.
“How about if you show me what you have on display?,” I asked, walking toward the displays and seemingly forcing him to finally get up.
“Don’t touch that,” he said sharply as I motioned toward a display window. “That’s an insert. It’s what you could have used if you had painted your trim five years ago. But you said that your wood is rotten. So that train has left the station. That means you’ve gone from here (his hands down low) to here (raises his hands) in terms of price.”
“Well, too bad my house was built 26 years ago. Wood was my only option,” I explained.
“Not true,” he responded. “They had other options back then. But they used them mainly on commercial property.” (Wait. Isn’t that what I said?)
“You should have used vinyl or aluminum clad ‘cause they won’t rot. I’m trying to explain this so you’ll understand. Do you understand what I’m sayin’?”
“Most of it,” I said, resisting the temptation tell him what I really was thinking. “Why don’t you give me some litera...”
“Let me take care of this customer first,” he said, abruptly walking back to the register near his desk where a man was waiting with some products to check out.
“That’s okay,” I said. “I think I’ve gotten what I need.”
The Question for You to Consider
I left quickly trying not to shake my head in disbelief until out of sight. As I walked out, I should have felt angry, but instead, I felt sorry for the store. Obviously, they don’t know how insulting this guy is.
And that raises an important question for you to consider. Do you know how your salespeople are interacting with your customers? Have they been appropriately trained? Have you observed them recently?
I assume they do much better than what I've related here. But even so, proper interaction doesn’t automatically happen, so occasional skill refreshers are important. Your team needs to listen, empathize and help the customer with a problem rather than brag about their knowledge, act pushy, abrupt or let a bad day lead to rude behavior?
If you think poor customer interaction won't happen at your business, I’m sure that’s what they are thinking at this major home-improvement center. But, obviously, it does happen there. And they’re paying this salesperson even though he can’t be helping the image of the store or selling much.
I mean... would you buy anything from this guy?
Dennis L. Rosen is the WinFluence® expert on customer service and sales improvement for retailers, service providers and sales professionals. More information on presentations and training as well as helpful articles are available at www.FaceToFaceService.com.
© 2017 by Dennis L. Rosen.