Leading you business to extinction?

I’m not picky but I have to say I’ve never seen so many examples of bad customer service. Considering all the books on “customer experience”, something is wrong here. Maybe business owners don’t care to read anymore?

In our next episode of BuzzBooster Tv #54 we talk about our “experience” at Applebees.

Today I want to write to you about my “experience” at Hobby Lobby.

I usually love to go there! They have most of the things I need for my projects. On a first moment is a great store. But the love turns into frustration every time I need help from a person. Believe me, what I’m about to tell you didn’t happen just once, it just happens to be the most recent event.

I went there to buy alcohol based paint. I saw it in a magazine and wanted to try.

Go to the paint section and couldn’t find what I was looking for. Looked around and saw a lady organizing some frames. Asked her.

She said : I don’t know what that is, but the paints are all on isle…

Thanked her and continued to look on the next isle. Heard her say: “people expect you to know where everything is”

Well, if you work there I kind of do and also expect that you at least try to find it or call someone that would know.

Went around this huge store looking for another human being. No luck, went back and kept looking.

There was another customer on a similar quest. We look at each other and she says: “Do you know anything about paints? I’m lost here” So am I.

Went looking for an employee again. Found a lady and asked if she knew someone at the store that understood paint. She said no but she could try to help.

It is a craft store. Wouldn’t you expect to find someone that understood something about paints?

She goes to the isle and begin to look. This one is acrylic, this one oil…. minutes go by. I grab something that looked like what I saw on the magazine, show it to her and say: The one I saw looks like this one but this one doesn’t say if it is alcohol based.

She says: I’ll call customer service.

When she comes back she says: I never heard of alcohol based paint. They said if it doesn’t say it is because it is not and we don’t have.

I say: It doesn’t say what is based on, could be oil, could be water etc. It needs to be based on something.

She: If it doesn’t say, it is not. And she leaves.

Well, I thought, I just experience a surreal and absurd moment but I don’t quit that easy. I’ve been through this before. I’m a fighter.

I give up any type of human interaction and go back to my quest.

Twenty minutes later I find the alcohol based paint together with stamps and embossing devices. I have succeeded one more time.

I start my way to the cashier with my cart now full of other stuff I had no plans of buying before when the same helper enters the isle I’m in.

I decided to diminish the pain for the next victim that enters the store looking for this type of paint, grab the package and say; ” Hey, you have the paint, it was not on the paint isle”

She doesn’t even take to time to look at my hand holding the product, says “cool” and continues walking.

I think: she really doesn’t care.

To the cashier I go.

The is one cashier functioning only and a line. In line I stand.

Consumer at the cashier has a product that has no price. Cashier picks up the phone, ask the price to be checked and we wait.

Line is getting a lot bigger. After 7 minutes, she picks up the phone again and asks for another cashier.

There is a second cashier, calls for the next in line. Line splits, people on both. Second cashier doesn’t finish with that consumer for some reason and everybody else keep waiting

After several minutes, I left without my things. I had other commitments.

Came home, went online, bought everything I wanted and will get tomorrow morning and my bill was lower than what I would have paid at the store.

Now, as you can see, I don’t need to go to a physical store. It takes time, my most precious asset, I spend gas, it is usually more expensive and when I have to interact with zombies, it steals my good mood.

I do it because I believe the Buy local movement is a good thing. But if businesses don’t work on the touch points with the consumer, what is the advantage of spending your money there? You do not have to do them a favor, it needs to be an exchange of values.

Employees should be trained on the products and services a business offers, should understand that the consumer is not there to interrupt their day but to help keep them in the job and if they don’t perform, are not proactive, they should be fired.

There are lot of competent, proactive people out there looking for a job.

It is up to the business owner to provide adequate training, systems and ways to track performance. Very easy to say that it is because of the recession or consumer being resistant to buy that things are bad and to under staff the business and not care about customer service. This might be the excuse of choice, but is not true.

We saw big chains going out of business last year, we are going to see more. Not because of a bad economy but because business owners make the unconscious decision to put themselves out of business. They allow external circumstances to serve as excuses for inaction.

You better care for your customers. Maybe you can’t give all they expect but you probably can give a lot more than you are. Visit all the touch points you have with prospects and customers and choose to improve all of them.

Or become a dinosaur. By the way, it doesn’t work to do more marketing if you don’t fix the gaps.

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