The Value of Service, Part II
Yesterday I detailed a truly awful customer experience from the point of view of the business owner. The experience and conversation documented, customer expectations identified and the disappointing response from the manufacturer outlined.
The feedback was varied but the several I found most poignant detailed my extreme naiveté for even imagining that customer service in the firearms business could ever equal any other industry. A sad viewpoint I found distressing that anyone would simply expect poor service and quietly endue it when it occurred. Given the time, money and energy I have invested in my representatives over the years, striving for ‘World Class’ customer service that identifies your business as a trusted partner in the customer’s purpose was a natural expectation. Especially when one considers that the average firearms purchaser buys less than one firearm per year.
Charitably, the reasons for poor service in an exploding market are easy to discern. An ever increasing customer pool eager to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights before it is no longer available creates ‘out the door’ lines. Fox News reported this morning that NCIS background checks on Black Friday exceeded 154 thousand – far above any previous day. So ‘churn ‘em and burn ‘em’.
Most gun shops sport an ‘All Sales are Final’ sign. From a business point of view, returns add extra cost in a market of already extremely thin margins. The reasons supporting the ‘All Sales are Final’ policy are myriad and completely support the ‘Churn ‘em and Burn ‘em’ ethos. Buyer’s remorse over price, unrealistic expectations on how the purchase would exist in their everyday lives and confusion over how the purchase works are the top reasons for returns.
However, this policy prevents the business from identifying opportunities in how they could address the customer’s needs and create a ‘Returning Customer’. Conversations with customer over how they plan to use the weapon, their experience and overall comfort level often gives way to the most feasible ‘ytr’ (yield to representative). I don’t know that I can count the number of times the representative pitched the deal of the day following a short greeting.
Simple operation instructions or how to field strip the weapon are rarely discussed as the sale closes. Missed opportunities to include the customer in CCDW classes, range memberships and small gun safes for pistols are examples of money left on the table. Over the years I have supplied my email address to many guns shops never receiving so much as an advertisement.
Good customer service takes effort but I believe is well worth it. I hope that Business Owners will consider the possibilities in those moments when there are no customers in the store and the only task calling your name involves your high score on ‘Angry Birds’