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How do you feel when you are almost about to take home your favorite product (phone, tablet, gaming device, or anything else) and burning a hole in your pocket to afford it when suddenly a salesman takes a U turn on the price when you are just about to pay and and finally feel good? Disgruntled, baffled, pathetic, upset? It's like you were about to eat that ice cream and the moment you brought it close to your mouth, the whole scoop fell down - that experience is colder than that ice cream itself, isn't it? 🙂

I recently went to one of the biggest retail chains for Gadgets in the UK to purchase a tablet/laptop - MS Pro6 – yes, it's not the cheapest gadget on the market and it definitely makes a hole in your pocket.

After exploring several options with a decent budget in hand, I zeroed down on this machine (with my heart pounding to whether I am making a good bet to shell out GBP 1200+). The salesman giving me the details, describing features of the product gave me a thumbs-up congratulating me for my choice! Wow, it was a great feeling, pricey though but it was something which will not only bring great usability and utility for me but also add some sleek cool look to my presentations. I was already visualizing to deliver some great presentations using this new gadget.

Everything was going fine, I was all pumped up by the salesman's pitch and raving reviews and features (we know how sales people can sometimes try to oversell, this although called for it :)). I confirmed to the salesman, that I am ready to purchase and will also like to buy add-ons (which the salesman smartly packed into the overall deal) because I want a one stop shop experience for everything related to this gadget purchase.

There was a small caveat though, which was only revealed to me after I had already convinced myself and my wallet to be ready to shell out that money. I asked him to get the invoice ready and before that, run me through the break-up of the total price.

This is when the Sales man revealed the price of the Keyboard and Mouse of the tablet is 50% more - I was a little surprised initially thinking that may be just a mistake, but no, the salesman insisted that what he showed me was different to what he is selling me!! Why???? Yes, a BIG WHY - that is what my rolling eyeballs were screaming. I told him, that I'm buying based on what you communicated and showed to me and now you want me to shed more money - to which he said that he cannot do anything about this! I was surprised by that reaction thinking how can you afford to loose a Customer in a split second! A few minutes back, everyone was happy, and in a second the whole feeling of excitement was ruined! I still asked him, to check with his store manager if they could do something about this as I had traveled a long distance to the store and not bought it online with the intention to feel the gadget, try it out, and then buy it then and there just because online buying will miss all these parameters. He came back to me saying they cannot do anything about it!! - With that, it did not took me even a second to decide that I should walk off from the deal and the store!

I thanked him for his time (although I was absolutely upset, one because I could not buy what I wanted to so much that day and two I was extremely unhappy on the lame attitude and miscommunication of the Salesman) – my experience did not go bad just with that salesman, but for me, that Retail chain set a good example of a bad Customer experience. Anyway, I still bought my gadget (online this time) where I got a better price and some offers too - just by few clicks!!

Here is what I analyzed from my buying journey to my experience with the retail chain.

  • A Customer makes perceptions about a product, store or service by hearing it from other people (word of mouth), online reviews, web visits, etc. – although they play an important role in the buying journey, however, they may not always be true – one bad experience makes the whole journey regrettable. All good things a Customer gets to hear/read about your product and service, should mirror to what you actually provide to the Customer.

  • While you may be the best salesperson in your store, out in the field, in your Organization - one small miscommunication, one small mis-commitment, one wrong expectation you set with your Customer and you could loose the whole deal (remember, I called off the whole deal because of one miscommunication on the price of an accessory and not because of the whole Product itself)

  • It’s no more about ‘one bad experience does not matter and the Customer has not much options to buy from someone else’. Small bad experience can have large scale impact(s). I strongly believe the whole Customer mindset has evolved today - from ‘this is what’s available' so I will buy it’ to ‘I will only buy if I get the best – best product, best suited to my wallet and with best Customer Service’. From the same channels - positive word of mouth and reviews through which a Customer reaches to an Organization, it could lead to a negative word of mouth and reviews!

  • When dealing with a net new Customer/Prospect, I cannot insist more on how crucial it is to manage that first impression, that first interaction, that first experience of the Customer – You can either give the Customer a bad experience which will go a long way in bad mouthing your services, it may send negative signal to someone planning to do business with you, it may even have your existing Customers doubt your services, it may do a lot more damage than you can probably imagine – it’s a different world today and things spread like wildfire!

  • On the other hand, you could try to understand where the Customer is coming from, what are their needs, what do they like/dislike, what works for them, and try to build trust through honest commitment, clear and transparent communication, set the correct expectations, and make all efforts to convert this prospect into your Customer and then provide Services in a way that the Customer could trust you the same way you tell them about your Trusted advisory when you pitch your product and services to them.

  • Loosing a Customer can take a split-second, but acquiring and retaining a Customer, that’s something which takes weeks or months and building Trust takes even longer. For demanding Customers of today, with the entire gamut of choices and options at their disposal, you cannot afford to let go a Customer just like that. Having the right training and tools, a well-crafted strategy on how to be agile and quick to turn a ‘on the verge of loosing’ to ‘lifelong Customer’ is not an option for Organizations anymore. If you cannot think a step ahead of your Customer, the Customer will take a step ahead to ditch you and associate with your competitor.

  • Customer experience is not just about selling your products and services to your Customers and getting orders for your business – it’s about understanding the whole buying emotion a Customer carries with them, mapping that emotion into outstanding products and services with empathy in each interaction, and keeping a proactive and constant connect with your Customer.

“Hearing is a gift you get from your birth but Listening is a skill you develop”,– while hearing can aid the transmission of Customer voice to you brains, listening will enable you to process it the way a Customer expects, this can tremendously change your Customer’s perception about you and can take your relationship with the Customer and the Customer’s experience with you to an entirely different level!