Sales, Service, and Education

February 26, 2008

I liked this article at 1to1 Media Forrester Research is quoted as saying that 20 percent of High Definition Television (HDTV) sets sold at retail are returned – not because they are defective – but because the consumer had no idea that the set was not going to give the expected HD user experience unless both your cable provider has HDTV services, and that you are paying for those extra services.

I was happy to read this, because I am now aware that I am not alone. Over the years there has been more than one instance where I have purchased something that had a dependency that that would negate its usefulness unless I had that dependent part or piece. Even in speaking with sales people at the time of purchase – in these cases not one had said – by the way – for this to work, you need …

The end result for me is either a frustrating return to trip to the store to either return the item, or purchase its dependencies. Neither of which makes me a happy customer.

On the flip side, the opposite can be true. I purchased an Apple iPod accessory as a gift, the sales representative walked through the requirements of the model compatibility and the types of adapters each model would require. If I ever need another accessory for these things I know where I will go. (I am not an iPod fan, but that is another story)

Although the above article references retail, service businesses can be just as bad. I recently had a services company provide as estimate on some work that I want done. Not once was I told that the quotation was useless unless I already had another particular service performed first. It was only casually mentioned to me by someone else who had already had similar work done. Needless to say I still don’t have that particular work done.

In todays competitive, and very low loyalty market, it makes sense to educate your customers. At its simplest, they won’t be sticking you with returns costs, or just avoiding the product or service. If you are lucky enough to supply the dependency, it is also a cross sell opportunity.

Unless of course, you are one of the lucky ones who don’t need to worry if your customer ever comes back.

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3 Responses to “Sales, Service, and Education”

  1. elliotross Says:

    Hi Robert –

    Yes – expensive! – I know a situation where three technical services companies in a row fired a customer because the customer is not willing to help them selves.

    I do hope that is the minority though.

    At the end of the day, leaving out pre-sales & the actual sale;

    1) Customer service **is expensive

    2) The more you can reduce the most expensive (phone) through good reference material, Web FAQ etc – you benefit

    3) The value & method of service MUST be considered in context of the value

    I have a new blog post coming up soon going into more detail on that one.

    Regards

  2. Robert Bacal Says:

    Cool. When I started my consulting business some 17 years ago, part of our mission was to educate our customers, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Our online centers for topics like customer service, management, leadership are all free and full of handpicked stuff, as is our site on training and learning (I’m not stumping for visitors here so I’ll not put in lnks).

    It’s a bit self-serving. It drives me nuts or did to work with senior executives who needed serious education in the topics but refused to acknowledge the need. These clients ended up “expensive” as often as not the projects bombed. I don’t like failing.

    I’d rather sacrifice on customer service and niceness, turn away customers who won’t accept help even if they pay for it, and above all educate them.

    The returns are huge but you also narrow your market some. And get known as having huge integrity and cahones. All of the mgmt consultants I know have embraced this and succeeded.

    …ranting a bit. Thanks for turning me on to your blog.


  3. […] an example, consider that customers who purchased high definition television sets report being dissatisfied because they were not aware that to get the full benefit, they have […]


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