June 18, 2008

Gratitude. Pass it on.

My friend and mentor Kim @ Scrapbiz writes about showing gratitude toward businesses that get it right. And let me tell you, I will never hesitate to tell a business owner when their service or attitude has affected me -- good or bad. I'm also the first to sing the praises of a store that has impressed me. I will shout it from the rooftops. On the flip side, if a business disappoints me with an unwillingness to customize or personalize their service or just has an overall bad attitude, there's no telling how many people I'll complain to about them.

Just in the past week I've had 2 vastly different experiences at 2 local bicycle retailers.

I took my son's bike back to the locally owned bike shop for a warranty repair. I was told it was a quick fix, but they needed to order a replacement part and to check back on Tuesday. I missed Tuesday, and they never contact me. A week went by before I could get back to the shop. The owner didn't remember me, made excuses due to "how busy they are at this time of year" then tried to charge me $10 for a warranty repair. I honestly thought he was joking. He gave me some song and dance about having to cover the cost of his time, and how otherwise he'd have to apply to the manufacturer with a warranty claim (a very well known manufacturer), yadda, yadda, yadda. Well duh. That's how warranty works. (as a business owner I'll do everything in my power to exchange, replace, fix or take back a product that is defective, even if it means I absorb the cost) I think my biggest disappointment was that this is a small, locally owned, long-standing business in town, and the perception is that small businesses are more personalized, accommodating and service oriented. I found out that this isn't always the case.

Hubby and I ended up buying new bikes (first ones we've owned as adults!) at a big box sports chain store at the other end of town. Not only did the manager help us personally, he allowed us to take our time, try out as many bikes as we wanted, didn't try to upsell us on more bike than we needed, and didn't shove us out the door as we were there past closing. And when I went back yesterday (2 weeks later-to get a credit because the bikes went on sale), he not only remembered me, but remembered which bike I'd bought. He took the time with me to answer some questions, address some concerns I had, let me try out another bike, and offered to exchange the one I bought if I still wasn't satisfied. I think I was most delighted because we got personalized, patient, knowledgeable service where we least expected it.

The craziest thing is, I've had similar -- drastically different -- experiences in the past few weeks at 2 local pet food retailers, 2 local home building stores, and 2 different paint stores.


Kim said...

Unfortunately, I think some small independent business owners are starting to act desperate given the cash and credit crunch. Instead of giving BETTER service, they are just trying to stick it to everyone they can squeeze a dime out of. Customers should not be shamed into spending money with you. You should treat your customers so great that they are THRILLED to do business with you.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. Very well written, thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

ITA...with all the competition out there, all you have is one shot to impress a customer. And you should never underestimate "word of mouth"...it's a powerful thing!

I had a similar experience buying prescription glasses recently. Two independent stores, but very different experiences!

Don't just sit there...SCRAP SOMETHING!