Thursday, November 20, 2008

Problems Are Wonderful Opportunities

When you sell something to someone and they have a problem with the product, this is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate your value as a company.

Let me share two experiences that happened yesterday. See which business you want to be.

1. I bought 20 volumes of a set of Time-Life books from a seller on eBay. This person has 1,908 feedback's and they are 100% positive. The price was right, the shipping was quick because we live in the same state. It should give you confidence to purchase from them.

The shipment arrived yesterday via USPS Parcel Post. Later when I opened it up, I noticed the box had been dropped on one corner, tearing the box and damaging the corners of all the books except three. I bought them to complete a set, so I needed them to be in very good condition and now they are not good at all. So, I sent them an email letting them know it arrived. I stated that the books were not packaged very well. They were just put in a box with another piece of cardboard folded to take up the extra space. I explained the condition. I asked what they would like to do?

Here's the response--and I quote, "I don't know of any 30 lb boxes of books dropped on their corner that fair well, accounts for loose sections and damaged corners. You need to check with USPS on damages."

2. My wife bought a new handbag from a company she found online called Ebags USA. The bag arrived perfectly packaged in a short time. The problem was that it was the wrong bag. So, she goes online to communicate the problem and together, they determine which bag she received and which it should have been, all the while apologizing for the problem. Then, they issue a prepaid return label to return the package and say they are shipping the correct one via expedited service at no charge to make up for lost time. All very professional and extremely well done. Just what you would expect of a good company regardless of their size. Makes you feel good about doing business with them. And, I will bet you that my wife will have no problem buying from them again. She said they have excellent prices and a great selection.

I'm done with the book seller. I won't even waste my energy leaving negative feedback. I'll just move on down the road. Now, this seller doesn't know this, but since I found him, I had bookmarked a number of his auction items and it looked like we could have had a great relationship, but with his kind of service, I cannot afford to waste any of my time with him.

It's so refreshing to have heard all about every step that took in handling my wife's problem. It was efficient, friendly, effective and painless. Just the way it should be, don't you think?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How Do You Improve the Mundane?

It doesn't get any more basic or mundane than shopping at Costco. I've been a member for many years and they have some incredible bargains. If you have been to one, you know that they are pretty basic in design. They used to call it a warehouse store and that still describes it very well. The selection of merchandise is great and there is always new things coming in all the time. They choose high quality items with recognized brand names on purpose and they buy in quantities sufficient to reduce the cost and pass that savings to the members. It is an excellent store and I continue to pay for the privilege each year.

Yet, with all the positives of this store, the one negative that most of us could agree on is that it is slow to check out and at most times there are long lines waiting to get up to the check out register. This makes it unpleasant enough that I do not go there except about once a month. If this were not the case, I think I would go more often.

So, how do you improve the shopping experience at the warehouse super stores? Simple: speed up the check out dramatically.

Now, my business partner likes Sam's Club which is a similar type of store run by Wal Mart. So, for our business, we joined Sam's Club and they have improved the checkout process. They have a guy that has a hand-held scanner and he gets your membership card, scans it, then scans all your items, so that when you get to the check out register, all you do is pay. Wow. I was really impressed. It was much faster and much more pleasant.

How can you take a lemon in your operation and make lemonade with it? Find out if there are any negative experiences of customers in your shop or store and think of great ways to solve that and create a superior experience. It will pay large dividends in repeat and more frequent visits.