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Customer Service in a Compeitive Market


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#1 McBruce

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 12:41 PM

In the last month, I have had two sets of experinces showing great customer service and worse then poor. It amazes me how companies can keep growing when they don't take care of their customers.

Issue 1) I have been shopping for a new pistol. Last week my hunting partner and I walked into Sportsmans warehouse to do some shopping and to look at firearms.
When we got to the counter, there was 3 groups of people standing there waiting for service. 1 person working behind the counter. As we waited our turn, 1 group got tiredof waiting and simply walked away, One group wandered off a ways browsing but keeping an eye on the counter for someone to help them, One group was now being helped. I pulled up a stool ( should have been an indication that the waits at the gun counter are long with when the store provides stools. ) and I sat down and waited my turn. I was amazed when the person behind the counter finished with the people he was with, glanced towards me, and the other people waiting....and then left. Leaving NO one behind the counter. Everyone stood around for a few mins seeing if someone was coming back, and when no one did, we all filtered away. Not a word of acknowlagement was said about let me go find someone to help you, i'll be right back, NOTHING.

So we took care of the other items we were there for, picked up a knife sharpener and some other camping items. Came back to the firearms counter and Dustin is standing behind the counter, doodling and not looking to excited about helping anyone. Another employee was helping people as fast as he could. I went up and sat down again and finaly with great effort, Dustin straightens himself up and walks over from the rifles to the hand guns and asks what we need. I tell him what I am looking for and he pulls a couple of pistols off the wall, sets them in front of me and proceeds to eves drop on the other people who are being helped farther down the counter. He is so distracted by their converstaion that when I start asking questions he doesnt even answer me. My hunting partner finaly says EXCUSE ME, you've been asked a question twice now! Dustin just sort of shrugs it off with..." Yea, whaterver" picks up the guns puts them back on the wall and says you need anything else?

NOPE I SURE DON"T and we left.
Now this is not the first time I have seen this happen with this guy. The first time was 4 months ago and he had the exact same attitude then that he did this day.

Now the pistol I was looking at were Kimber CDP II Pro's which is a thousand dollar firearm. Needless to say, Sportsmans warehouse did not make the sale and less then a week later I placed an order with a gun shop to buy the gun.

The shop I ended up buying the gun from, took all the time in the world with me, as if I was there one and only customer. ( altho the place was very busy ) The diffrance in cusomter service made the diffrance of a 1000 dollar sale or losing it.


Now I mentioned a knife sharpern. I had gone online and was going to order a sharpener set from Cabelas However they did not carry the brand that was recomended to me. So I went and checked Bass Pro. I found what I was looking for and placed the order. 2 days later I recieved an email informing me the order had been shipped. However, it was shipped to the wrong address. Where I live the mail does not deliever to a physical address, it only goes to PO Box's.
I had put instructions in my order that if shipping ground ( UPS/DHL/Fed Ex ) it needed to go to my physical address, if it was shipped via the post office, it needed to go to my PO Box. Those special instructions were not read and it was shipped via the post office to my physical address.

I sent a reply email explaining that the package could not be delievered how it was sent, and never got a reply. A day later I sent a 2nd email, and I did get a reply that stated my email had been recieved. ( auto responce ) ok maybe they didn't get the 1st one. later that day I got another reply that stated it was being reviewed, however none of my questions were answered and no solution was given to me concerning how it would be corrected. I waited 2 more days and sent yet another email, which when replied informed me I would need to wait at least 7 days to see if the package could be delievered.

At this point I called the company and explained the situation, my displeasure with the auto replies and how none of my questions being answered. The person on the other end of the line, didn't want to hear any of this and instructed me to contact the local post office and to tell them I had a package coming and that I would come in and pick it up. I asked the customer service rep how this was going to work, since I am employeed in a neighboring town and leave for work before the post office opens and get home well after it has closed. I was informed that I had been given a solution and that is what I needed to do.

I sent another email instructing Bass Pro to credit my Credit card and cancel the order and that this repeated display of lack of concern about a customer simply insured that they would not recieve any more business from me.
At this point, I got an actuall response. This email appologies for the problems and stated that they could not ( meaning would not ) credit my credit card untill they actually recieved the package back. They then extended an offer of issuing me a 10.00 dollar credit on my account to be applied to a future order. ( mind you the shipping charges of a simple knife sharpening set was 8.95 ) so I basicaly got free shipping on a future order ( of a small item )

I waited another week, and again contacted them pointing out that it has now been a month, my credit card is not showing the credit and I have not recieved the order.
The same customer service rep who offered me the 10 dollar credit responded again appologiesing for the problems and informing me that when she checked, yes it had come back to them as undelieverable, and that no credit had been issued and that she had just then, issued a full credit , and she even pointed out, including shipping charges to my credit card and stated that they were looking forward to being able to handle more orders in the future.

My final email pointed out that there would not be any future orders that I would not risk allowing them access to my credit card again and I hoped that someone from their company could grasp the poor handling of this at ever turn.
they had not followed the special instructions I had sent with the order on shipping, they had not responded properly to not 1 but 4 emails, they found it acceptable to tell a customer it was up to them to handle the situation and then when it was returned they hadn't even processed my credit back.

I'm not even opening any further emails from them. There isn't anything that can be said that will ever take me back to doing business with them again.

On the flip side, I ordered some archery broadheads from Cabelas while all of this was going on with bass pro and wouldn't you know it, the exact same thing happened with them. They shipped via the post office to my physical address.
I sent one email pointing out what had happened and waiting thinking this can't be happening again with another company. The reply I got back was the same day.
it stated we appologies for the mistake, we have shipped your order out via UPS and if by chance the orgional order is delievered some how, would you please simply refuse delievery and have it sent back to us. Thank you for your business.

I actually picked up the phone and called Cabelas and asked if this was correct. They stated that it was their mistake and that I shouldn't have to wait for the delays of the postal service to send it back.

Again the diffrence was like night and day.

In a market place where eveyone scrambles for their slice of the pie it amazes me that some companies lose sight of basic customer service. Even more so, when their competitors are doing such a diffrent and better job at it.
McBruce
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#2 VicMc

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 06:58 PM

You know Bruce a lot of times it has more to do with the employee (of the moment) you are dealing with, more so than the company. Sad thing is though that, most of these places are quite big and well to be honest seem to think they can afford to loose a customer or two. What's even more sad is they are right 99% of the time as, there are so many who use them that the little guys are forgotten as quick as another customer appears. What a truly sad way to be. Thanks for the heads up. :)

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#3 McBruce

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 12:14 AM

Vic, I agree, the places are big and a poor preformance by an employee or an upset customer can go un noticed by those in charge. Being in the hospitality business, one employee can leave a bad mark for the entire company, however usually when it comes to our attention what has occured, Our handling of the situation is what will make or break if we save a customer or lose one. Like wise I am totaly aware of the number of people who pull scams and try to get one over on what they see as a company. It becomes very trying to keep up the good customer service.

My personal experinces with Cabelas has been that customer serivce is in the forefront of their over all business plan, like wise, it is obviouse that their people have gone through training and it is instilled in them, how to deal with a situation.

Bass Pro had repeated opertunity to make the situation right, in many diffrent ways. By the time someone actually noticed that there was a problem, it was to late. ( in my case) to convince me that I really wanted to give them another chance.
One item that annoyes me beyond words, is the offer of something on your next order.
This in my opionion is a cheap way out. if they have lost me as a customer it is an empty offer. It is not my next purchase that is the situation, it is the current one.
If you want to give me 10 dollars credit to show me I matter as a customer, do it in the current situation. Don't run a ploy. ( this is something I have seen many times in many companies including the one I work for ) I feel this is an insult to the consumer.

The issue I ran into with Sportsmans, was not a lone occurance. The young man with the attitude, had the same attitude about helping customers 4 months ago when he waited on me. To leave people at a counter waiting for help, without any type of acknowlegement, is a huge mistake. The over all attitude when I have shopped there has been split probably 50/50 with some being good, and some being very poor. To have that amount of employees in a store blowing off customers, reflects back on the management and lack of training of the employees.

I have praised Royal Archery in the past for the job they did, the huge diffrence was the owners understanding that you treat each person who walks through the door with the same attention as the guy who has purchased 3 or 4 bows from you. The person walking through the door may be the next customer that becomes a valued assest to your business.
Never prejudge the guy who strolls in in blue jeans and tee shirt, this customer may have saved for a year to buy that special gun, bow, knife set, gps, whatever. He may also be the guy who fishes with the owner of the company. You just never know.

There are ways to deal with situations and it does not take years of training, it does take the effort of the manager(s) to insure that programs are in place to invest in your employees how your customers should be treated.
Most entrance level employees, don't understand that God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth, use them that way. Listen to the customer, if there is a situation, find out what the problem is and then work with them to find a way to resolve it. Simply listening in most cases will show the customer that it really does matter to you.
From an employee's stand point, it gives them the time to listen and hear what the real issue maybe, as many customers will not come out and state up front what it is that is actually upsetting them. If the employee has not been taught how to listen, your behind the 8 ball from the get go.
McBruce
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#4 Larry $

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 06:26 AM

I've been to Sportsman's Warehouse north of Denver maybe 8 times in the past couple of years and got pretty much the same service you did each time. One time the guy at the electronic's counter did a good job of selling me some GPS mapping software, the rest of the times it was as if I was bothering the employees. Their prices aren't that good anyway (though they have a good inventory) so I would really prefer to spend my money at Gander Mountain in Aurora. I've been there three times now and called once, and each time the folks were friendly, helpful and on the ball. Heck, the last time we were there, one of the fishing guys cleared an aisleway, gave a guy and his son a quick fly fishing lesson and then let them have at it until they selected the rods they wanted. And remember what happened with Melody's boots?

Then we were in Gart's Sports in Colorado Springs last week looking at shotguns for Melody. The guy behind the counter refused to even look at her, didn't answer a single question she asked and just started going on and on and on about all the guns he's owned, how many animals he's shot with them and how much money he made on each one he sold; as if I really cared. Won't be back.

It comes down to the old adage: "When ya pay peanuts, ya get monkeys." My impression is that Sportsman's Warehouse hires mostly young folks on the cheap and then gets what they pay for. It also comes down to training, management (leadership) and motivation. As one who hires young folks all the time I can attest that it's getting harder and harder to find people who will take intitiative, have learned a good work ethic and care about doing a good job. At the same time, I have also learned that once you get people on staff, it takes effective leadeship for a staff to want to excel at their job.

Just my two cents. So, do we need to put some rocking chairs on the porch and our dentures in a glass while we sit around and complain about the youth of today? :lol:
Elk: it's what's for dinner!

#5 VicMc

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 08:44 AM

I agree whole heartedly.

Advance Auto parts kinda peed my flakes the other day also. LOL, I am 40 and to have a snot nose 18 year old point out something I knew already and in a condecending way, well let's just say......thank God I recently rededicated. ;) LOL

"Good Luck and Good Hunting"

 


#6 mzlloader

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 10:11 AM

Being in the service industry, My opinion is the customer allways comes first, if it is my time for lunch, or a break, I always make sure that any customer I am with is taken care of first, If I cant take care of them then I will call someone else to give me a hand,

my old college dean had a sign on his desk, it read ( I WOULD RATHER HAVE 1 CUSTOMER COME AND SEE 100 TIME, THAN HAVE A 100 CUSTOMERS COME BACK AND SEE ME ONCE)

My paycheck depends on customer service, If I have peeoed customers then my chances of doing what I love most will suffer.

I hate it when I go into a shop, store, resteraunt and have bad service, I will let the upper manager know the situation I am not nor ever have been afraid to speak my mind it that situation, if upper management does not take care of it then I will find some other place to shop or eat, and I will let everyone I know about the type of service I had recived. I have driven over 100 miles to a sport authority to buy camping gear when I lived less than 20 miles from one because the service at the one closer to home was real bad, but the other one gave me there whole hearted service.



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#7 sschneid73

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 08:37 AM

Wow Bruce I have had the very same thing happen to me in several stores. I think Vic hit it on the head when he said that there are so many of us that losing one or two customers to a bad experiance won't affect them. We have a Scheels sports store here in Omaha trying to vie for there piece of the pie in the sports market. They are an all sports store and each division has their quilified service person behind the counter. I went there to buy a $1000.00 scope for my B.A.R. 300 Win mag. I had this scope on my list for several years but only had to save for it. Well I purchased it and had a person mount it and bore sight it. I also had the scope that I had mounted on the 300 put on my 270 which I had a cheap scope on it. Well right before elk season in 2004 I went to my spot to sight them both in. This was going to be my first rifle elk hunt so I was very excited to lay the cross-hairs of that 300 on a nice elk. (ONLY IN MY DREAMS) I started shooting the 300 and it was no where on the paper at 100 yds. I moved up to 50 yds and still nothing. So I started to adjust it and couldn't believe I wasn't hitting the paper. Well I gave up on that and took out the ol reliable 270 and began to fire that at 100 yds. I hit the paper and adjusted to bring in the pattern a little tighter. I fired again and no holes on the paper. What in the world is going on. Well before I fired another shot I noticed that the scope was mounted wrong and the up and down was on the side and the left to right adj. was on the top. I took the rifles back to Sheels and right away the manager was very appologetic and fixed the problem right away with two boxes of each brand of ammo I was using plus a $25.00 gift cert. for my problem. He also spoke with the guy who mounted the scopes and he appologized for what he did. They know me now on a first name basis and I will continue to use that store for most of my hunting supplies. Customer service is, in my book VERY important. that is what keeps me coming back.

Steve




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