Send your prospect away….

I was early for a meeting yesterday and across the way was a Magnolia Audio & Video store. We keep pondering the high definition TV and I’ve wandered through the store once in a while. They claim “At Magnolia, we provide an exceptional experience from the moment you walk through our doors. Our stores feature comfortable demonstration rooms, knowledgeable consultants and premium brands that deliver outstanding performance.”

So I strolled! I was greeted pleasantly and left to wander – great start! I spotted a lot of Bose equipment and it struck a chord. We have a Bose Lifestyle system at home, and I’d called Bose last weekend – don’t you love those 24×7 order lines? – and ordered a replacement for the remote control which didn’t seem to be working. It came promptly, and I put in batteries only to find that I STILL had to be within two feet of the unit for the remote to work. That’s the problem we had with the old unit, so i seemed that my assumptions that the remote was faulty were wrong. Hey ho. Add a call to Bose to my GTD list (BTW, I use an application called iGTD on my Macbook that is quite stunning). But here I was with a pile of Bose equipment and a row of experts as long as my arm.

“Can you repair my Bose Lifestyle?” “Did you buy it from us?” I sensed the conversation was headed downhill. I was right. This gist was if I didn’t buy it from them, no dice.

It always amazes me when companies adopt that as (what I assume is) a corporate policy. Here am I admitting that I have a broken piece of high end audio and they see me as an annoyance to be shooed out. They don’t see me as a potential customer (it’s broken after all), they don’t see me as a revenue stream for additional items (they didn’t know I wanted a big TV – have to get one within 18 months). But what a lost opportunity to ask me a few questions, see what I have, offer their expertise and advice (from their knowledgeable people about their premium brands – at least one of which I own). I was smartly dressed (not always the case – and I have been known to dress down when going shopping), had given information that should have triggered some sales smarts, yet all three of the unoccupied people let me walk out. Worse still, they let me walk out with a severely damaged view of their organization. To the extent that when I do spend my dollars – Magnolia will not be on my list for consideration.

So they have just kissed around $5,000 goodbye. Was it guaranteed – absolutely not. But they have – in that instant that I call the ‘decisive moment’ – converted me from a recommender (I advised a friend to try there within the last month) and potential revenue stream – I won’t even think about lifetime value – to a detractor. And here is the kicker, they have little to no opportunity to redress that situation. How can they? Advertising will just remind me of the last experience – and reinforce it probably. It’s the difference in impact between a personal interaction and a cold reinforcement of a Brand Name.

Compare and contrast with Apple. I have talked before about the Genius Bar and the way that the folks there connect and, even when delivering bad news, do it in a way that keeps people as customers. Could that be why Apple’s retail sales are FOUR times higher than the best of the retailers?

{WOM, Brand, Customer Service, Marketing, Product}

Technorati Tags: Brand, Customer Service, Marketing, Product, User Experience, WOM

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