BestBuy spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring customers into their store, presumably to leave their cash behind and walk out with bags full of music, movies, video games and other assorted electronics.
Once a potential purchaser is lured into crossing the threshold you’d think their employees would apply at least a minimal amount of effort to separate the sucker from their money, right? Not so fast, sparky…
I spy a DVD collection of three movies on sale and I want it. In my mind, I’ve already purchased it. Being a bit of a film geek, I only buy movies in widescreen format. Problem is, the movie pack I’ve found doesn’t say if the flicks are full-frame or widescreen. I read every line of copy on the shrink-wrapped box and not a bit of details on the format.
I searched for a customer service person so they could look it up on their computer (of course I couldn’t find one) so I took control of one of their computers myself and looked it up. Nothing. No details on the information I was seeking about the movie.
I walk over the the Gaming department and find a new customer service person I can tell he’s new because he can still be found by shoppers instead of hiding in the back room (like all the service people must be doing.) He basically makes the same two attempts I made: reads the box and then checks their computer. Same findings — no indication of screen dimensions. While we’re speaking two other employees come over (presumably to tell the newbie he’s supposed to be hiding from customers, not helping them) and I layout the situation to the two newcomers.
Here is where these two lumps of losers turn the situation from simply lame service to outright self-destructive customer disservice. Once they’re aware of what we’ve already tried in order to answer my question about the screen format, they basically say there’s nothing else they can do to confirm it, but they are “sure” it’s the widescreen version that I am seeking.
I ask if they’re so sure it’s the right format, would they allow me to return it for a refund if I got it home and found out it was the wrong format. “Huh, no” I am told. Their policy (which I already knew) was not to give refunds on any opened movie, software, music, or game because people could copy it and then return the original. Sure, that makes sense — when you can answer questions about the product. I’m told I can exchange an open purchase for the exact same item (which is a real big help considering if it’s the wrong format another copy of it – in the wrong format – solves nothing.)
I propose another solution. Since they don’t know the answer to the screen format question, why not open a copy, pop it into one of the hundred DVD players they have for sale, and confirm their certainty that it’s the widescreen version. I’ll buy the open product if it’s the right format and we all win (and they’ll know the answer the next time a customer asks the widescreen/full-screen question.) Nope. That’s against policy too.
I ask the end question: “so, you rather I walk out without buying this DVD than to get an answer to my question or allow an exception to your policy?”
You can guess the answer.
These three stooges of customer disservice all agree that the wise choice is to let this customer who is trying to give them money — the one who became familiar with the brand through untold monies being spent on print, television, and web advertising campaigns by the corporation that pays them a salary to show up everyday and (supposedly) help these qualified and ready-to-buy leads drop a bundle of money in their store — to let this customer leave without spending a dime because they just couldn’t be bothered enough to get an answer to a simple question.
This is indeed a rather long story, but there are many lessons contained within.
1. This will be the first story I tell the very next time a business tells me “advertising doesn’t work.” Nay, my friend… advertising works fine. It’s the treatment they get when a prospect enters your business that negates all the good your advertising has done. In most cases, this damage can never be repaired.
2. Is your “policy” preventing people from making purchases? In the story above there were at least three places policy prevented the prospect from getting what they desired — to BUY.
3. Any hourly or minimum wage worker should be required to seek approval from a manager responsible for sales figures and store profits before they tell a customer “no.”
I spend hundreds of dollars a month on media. Books, movies, music, games, electronics, and assorted sundries. How much of my money (of money from those like me) is your store losing because your customer service people are trained to quote policy and have learned it’s easier to say “no” than to get off your ass and find a better answer?
Stores have “loss prevention” experts. Meaning, people who are in charge of preventing store theft. You might want to start thinking about hiring a “customer loss prevention” expert.