I am an advocate of buying local. I see firsthand in my community how spending money locally impacts those around you. Yes, sometimes a local business may be more expensive but the experience that comes from buying local…it outweighs the cost, right? The buyer experience when purchasing local should be more personable, correct?
In my experience, though, these sadly were not true. I needed to buy a nail gun for some DIY renovations. I did my research online first, so I knew what needed before I entered the store. BUT I still wanted to consult with the local hardware store; I believed their expertise would lead to some tips, suggestions or even a better nail gun recommendation.
Upon entering the local hardware store, I was greeted right away but after explaining my problem to the un-energetic employee it was determined that he did not know how to handle a tool rental. This happened over and over again, until I got “passed” off to the only employee in the store who did have the expertise to solve my problem. Unfortunately, he was four people deep, solving other customer problems.
After patiently awaiting my turn, I explained in detail my DIY project by asking direct questions that related to my purchase decision. At the end of the conversation, the employee recommended renting a different tool than the one I had originally came to the store to rent. At this point, I could go one of two ways. Rent the tool I had originally come to the store for (based on my research) or go with the ‘expert’ recommendation. The gentleman seemed knowledgeable and although I had reservations, I accepted his different tool choice. After discussing price, I had one last question…”Do I need a compressor with your recommended tool? “. As it turns out, I would need to rent a compressor too. At this point, I wish the employee would have stopped selling me products and focused on an efficient solution to my problem.
The story continues at the inefficient checkout counter. Or should I say checkout counters? I was led first to the rental checkout counter for my tool rental and then to the hard goods counter for my other purchases. I inputted all my information and scanned my credit card multiple times and finally left the store after 50 frustrated minutes. I don’t mean to come off as harsh, but when you are on a deadline time is money. In this case, doing the right thing equaled slow, unhelpful customer service.
Turns out the tool did not work for my DIY renovation job; THE ONLINE RESEARCH I DID was correct and proved to be more valuable than any of the employees at the local store. In this day and age, consumers don’t need to engage with an actual salesperson. We can often arrive at an intelligent decision much faster by doing a simple online search.
So to conclude my tool rental story, I returned the tool that was needed. The store offered no compensation. They did offer to rent me the original tool I wanted (not an exchange, but to pay another rental fee). I declined. As to their inquiry of how would I finish the job…I responded, “without you”.
If you think your business is changing for the worst because it’s less people driven… think again, it’s all about helping people and it always will be. MAYBE your market doesn’t interact with you face-to-face anymore because you’re not as valuable to them as you think you are. Today, if you’re not needed… you’re not worth their time. The fault does not lie within the consumer but within the organization, because you haven’t established and maintained a value worth the consumers time to interact with you.
Companies that are emerging as winners, are focused on educating consumers online and then when the time comes for actual interaction with a salesperson, they are closing the sale because the consumer has found trust in both online and offline communications with the brand. This is selling the modern day customer.
I’m a millennial and I love the internet but I love connecting with people even more. I want to learn and engage with people who bring purpose to my life and vise versa.
Conversely… if I find my time wasted, I’ll find my own path and leave you out of it. Bad customer service leads to online buying.