Margo Chevers
Northeast Leadership Enterprise
PO Box 281
Wales, MA 01081

Is Your Attitude Worth Catching?

STOP the BS (Bad Service)

The Power of Managing Customer Expectations

Leadership for the New Millenium

Margo Chevers Blog

Monday, August 29, 2005

Service that should be standard expectations

Rarely do I have such a fantastic experience of service while making a purchase, that I am compelled to comment on it to the sales associate. recently, I had that kind of encounter. I went to Home Depot in Wilbraham, MA to check out refrigerators. I was just there to check out the models, capacities and the prices. There was a sales associate who asked me if I needed help. I told her that yes, I did. She then asked me what my needs were, what color I was looking for, etc. She then asked the dimensions of the opening the old refrigerator was in. I told her I didn’t know, I thought they were all standard size. She assured me that was not the case and many people purchased units that wouldn’t fit into the existing space. She showed her knowledge of her product in many ways. She knew capacities, features as well as advising me that if I bought an energy saver model, I might be eligible for a rebate from my electric company. She then made copies of the models specifications that I was most interested in. She acknowledged the fact that I had two children with me, addressed comments to them, even though they are both babies, and I thanked her and went on my way. When I got home and measured the opening, you guessed it, the models I liked wouldn’t fit. I was so grateful she had pointed out that I needed to measure. I went back to the store with the measurements in hand a few days later. A different sales associated was on duty and when I told him I had measured my existing space, he said he couldn’t help me because all the models they had were larger than my opening. Then, miraculously, the previous sales associate came up to us, recognized me and the babies and asked how we were. The sales associate who had just told me there were no refrigerators in the size I wanted, asked the woman if she could help me. Immediately, she went to the computer to check to see what was available. After much searching, she found one that was the size I needed, with the features I wanted. I told her I’d take it. She then said that she’d give me a coupon for 10 percent off. That was a $100 savings. She told me how to use it at the cash register, she explained how to get my delivery charge rebate, how it would be delivered and put all my paper work together in a neat, paper-clipped document. I profusely thanked her for her help. She had gone above and beyond. Just yesterday, even before the refrigerator has been delivered, she sent me a note and a coupon for an additional $100 rebate on the refrigerator. She was pleasant, helpful, knowledgeable, created a sense of importance and comfort on my part and went out of her way to help me save money. That is service that is over and above what most retail store clerks offer.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sales lesson 101

I am in the process of buying a new car. This is not a task I enjoy, but it is a necessary evil since I need reliable transportation to travel to my clients. I stopped into a dealership to look for cars. When I walked into the dealership, I looked around to see who was waiting on customers. After what seemed like a very long time, a young gentleman approached me and asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted to buy a car. He pointed to another gentleman who was seated in front of the windows (supposedly to see when customers come into the dealership) and told me he was a salesman. I walked over to his desk and to my amazement, he didn’t even stand up, tell me his name, or shake my hand. I stood talking to him for a few minutes before he decided that when I said I wanted to buy a car, I was serious. He showed me a few cars, I decided on one I liked and asked to take it for a test drive. We went back in for keys and while he was doing that, I went to wash my hands. When I got back, someone approached me and asked if I needed help. I said no, I was waiting to take a test drive. He asked who my salesperson was, and I had to honestly say that I didn’t know his name. At that moment, my salesperson walked up and overheard me saying I didn’t know his name. Then, he stuck out his hand, introduced himself. I guessed it was better late than never. The whole time we were taking the test drive, he kept up a strong, aggressive sales pitch about the vehicle. When we got back to the dealership and I asked the price, he said he had to talk with his manager. The pressure was brought to bear almost immediately. The business manager and the salesperson both teamed up to try to get me to make a decision right then and there. Asking if I liked the car, the price, the deal, why I wouldn’t make a decision on the spot. Although I was extremely interested, I didn’t feel I had enough breathing room to make a decision, plus the fact that I didn’t like the pressure tactics. So I told them I had to think about it. The salesperson gave me his card and I told him I’d call him the next day. When I called him at 9:15 in the morning, he wasn’t in yet. When I asked what time he was due in, I was told he was due at 9AM. I gave the phone numbers where I could be reached and waited to hear from him. Finally, I decided to try another dealership. When I drove up on that lot, it was like I had landed on a totally different planet from the first dealership. Out in the lot, there was a young woman who as soon as I got out of my car, introduced herself and asked if she could help me. I told her yes, I was looking to buy a car. I told her the car I was interested in and she showed a few to me. I told her of my interest in one of them and we went for a test drive. She was personable and gave me space to think while I drove. When we got back to the dealership, I told her I was in a hurry since I had a lunch date with a client. She said, no problem, she just needed a little bit of information and I could stop in on my way back from lunch. Bottom line, I bought my car from the second salesperson. She made a great first impression, always called me back, always responded to my questions, didn’t pressure me, and respected my desire to be in charge of my time and decision. It is now almost a week after I first looked at a car. Do you think that first salesperson has called me back yet? No way. He lost a sale. I keep wondering what his reaction would be if he learned that I bought a car from another dealership. He would probably blame me and say that I was playing games, or couldn’t make up my mind. If he knew, would he learn from this experience? That’s the whole point. We should constantly be learning from our experiences. In this instance the lessons are: First impressions mean a lot. Always stand, shake hands and introduce yourself. Don’t pressure your customer, let them feel as though they are in control of the buying process. And then follow up, follow up, follow up. Statistics tell us that most sales aren’t made until the 7th call. Don’t make the same mistakes this gentleman made.