Customer Service and its nuances
Walk into any big shop/store and look around for about a few minutes and you will have a sales rep walk by you and check if he/she could help you with something. In a departmental store or boutique or even an electronics, you would probably be interested in something specific or could just be looking around… Or even loitering around
But when you are actually interested in something a bit bigger which couldn’t fit into a carry-bag or the boot of your car, you would generally want to hear what the sales rep has to say before you decide, embark on an online research journey, read up on product reviews, assessed your options weighing them against brand/pricing and blah blah blah….
Now when you are actually at the store, a good sales rep is generally very courteous and can rant off the product features even in his/her sleep. What does happen is that when you are doing a market survey, you tend to visit multiple product stores and note the quotations. When it is a big purchase, sometimes the sales rep take your contact details and get back to you to try and close the sale if they figure out that you are impressed by the product that they are selling. What the sales rep sometimes forgets is that the decision to buy or sell is completely a customer’s prerogative. Pitching for the product was the best thing that he/she could do, and if they did a good job on that and followed up regarding the purchase, then it’s a job well done!! Definitely if the sale was done, then you achieved a “+” against your monthly quota and got closer to that elusive incentive package that most sales reps chase! Showing dejection or frustration at the customer not buying the product is a big faux pas that should be avoided at all costs!
I was on the receiving end of such faux pas a few days back in various manifestations! As long as I didn’t respond with the magic sentence “I don’t think I will be making the purchase as I am evaluating other options. Thanks for following-up.”, I received multiple follow-up calls spaced over 2-3 days.
Here are the various responses I got:
Sales Rep: <Hangs up>
Sales Rep: “But you said you were interested. Why are you not buying it?”
Sales Rep: Fine <Hangs up>
Yes, I was interested but I didn’t commit to buy!
Some of these responses didn’t really affect my choice because I have used what the company had to offer in the past and was very satisfied with the service and the quality of the product. (read: returning customer)
The problem arises when you are a new customer. I don’t have first-hand experience of the company’s product and all I know about it is hearsay, what I read about it in the product reviews and maybe some additional facts from existing customers that I had interacted with. In such a scenario, where I got any of the responses above in contrast to a company offering a similar value proposition but with a much better customer service response…… I would end up picking the latter. Such small things which may seem petty in retrospect but when done with a substantially large volume of customers can end up in negative perception which may or may not be truly reflective of the company’s customer service quality! And unfortunately such experiences do spread by word-of-mouth pretty fast!!
A negative experience leaves an indelible mark in the customer’s mind which is deeper than the effect of a hundred positive experiences!