Archive for December, 2009

7 Ways to Lose a Customer (part two)

December 8, 2009

So, it seems that tactics 1 – 4 have struck a chord with some of our readers – we’re pleased to be back with Part 2.

Remember, we’ve already covered:

Tactic One:    Don’t Engage with the Customer
Tactic Two:    Look as Unappealing as Possible
Tactic Three: Feign or Cultivate Total Ignorance of your Product and Services
Tactic Four:   Keep the Customer Waiting

Now we come to one of my favourites, Tactic Five:  ‘Destroy the Customers Desire to Buy’

Half Price chocolate with that newspaper?
Would you like chocolate with your paper?

We are now at the point where customers arrive at the till clutching their potential purchase. If you are working the till this is a dangerous time because if you are not careful you will have to abandon your discussion with your mate and perform a transaction.  Luckily for you your masters may have devised a strategy that will often put the kibosh on any need to open the till a second time: the Clunky Cross-sell.

WH Smith is brilliant at this. You put down your books, your CD and your DVD purchase and then you are asked, “Would you like a half-price bar of chocolate with that?” This really drives people round the twist!

Our electrical retailing friends have taken this process one step further; they actually throw doubt on the very thing you’ve purchased before it has even gone into the bag!  I refer, of course, to that magical device – the extended warranty!  You arrive at the till, excited by that special purchase, only to be told that there is very good chance that it will pack up, the tube will go, the screen will scratch, the drum will rust, the hose will crack, the microchips will fry and you will have to fork out for a new one! Unless that is you are prepared now to fork a sum almost as large as the purchase price to insure against this dire eventuality.  Well this ruins the sale for many people …

Even the banks are in on the act: as you pay in a cheque the cashier has been trained to ask, “Would you like a pension with that? You just need to see our Financial Adviser…can I book you an appointment?”

Saturday Sales Staff
“Er I think it’ll work..”

So, to Tactic Six: Emulate The Saturday Staffing Experience

Classic amongst the ignorant are ‘Saturday Staff.”  We just love them because it is immediately and blindingly obvious that they have no idea about any of the products they are there to sell (see Tactic Three).

You can imagine the board meeting at the electrical retailers with the red logo…

Smithers: “I’ve just had a brilliant idea!”

Big Wig: “Go on Smithers…”

Smithers: “Can I just check something out with Geoff in Finance? Geoff what’s our busiest day of the week?

Geoff : “That’ll be Saturday.”

Smithers: “Well then… let’s fill the shop with school children who know nothing about our products! It’ll save us a fortune; not using highly trained sales-people.”

Big Wig: “Genius!”

Now look here’s an idea. Saturday Staff turn away customers because if they want advice – they ain’t going to get it. So why not train your full time staff to emulate the Saturday experience. The staff member just has to skulk around trying not to be noticed and avoiding eye contact at all costs.  If by some mishap they are cornered by a customer the routine is as follows: Look nervous. As soon as the customer asks for advice, break eye contact, furrow the brow and look around wildly for help. When none is forthcoming walk them over to the items in question, sweep your arm around in general fashion, read out (moronically) the features described on the blurb, then explain that actually these days all the washing-machines/televisions/hairsprays/shoes/toilet papers are much the same so just choose the one you fancy. Then leg it.

I am sure that by this point you have come to the realisation that with the right training (or rather with absolutely no training whatsoever) staff can quickly become highly proficient at keeping customers at bay. But then they move on. So, the next problem you have to face is that of recruiting replacement staff. If you get this wrong you can find customers coming back through the door and messing everything up again.  I have undertaken numerous surveys and so can share with you those attributes which customers tell us constitute good service. They use words such as:

Friendly, Polite, Knowledgeable, Well-trained, Helpful, Chatty, Smart, Clean, Smiley, Attentive, Focussed

You have been warned. If you interview someone who matches that description… send them away, employ them not.  They will only upset your peace and quiet, unsettle your existing staff and bring on all the pressure and stress that you have worked so hard to remove.

And so, finally my last; Tactic Seven – Use Technology and Internal Processes to Distract Your Staff from Serving the Customer!

Confusing till?

Not all staff get up in the morning intent on giving rubbish service – so you may have to help them out. For those of you desperate to keep customers firmly at bay, the arrival of the high technology tills is an absolute gift. The great things about them are: their unreliability, their dependence on telecommunications and their sheer complexity, which means that most staff do not have a clue how to work them.

In the village where I live we have a community shop – a charming little store.  Unfortunately the decision was made to equip this little shop with the ultimate in computer driven, point of sale, bar code reading, flat touch screen, digital, wiz-bang tills.  As a result as you enter the shop all you could see behind the counter was the top of three heads.

“Well what did you press dear?”

“I think it was that one but now the drawer won’t open.”

“Well that should have worked.  Are you sure you pressed that?”

“Don’t press it again! Oh dear, it is so difficult to see without my glasses.”

“ I found that it is better to use the end of a biro than my finger- look.”

“Oh no, wrong end, now you’ve drawn on the screen dear.”

“Oh bother, we’ll try a bit of Vim in a minute.”

“Oh sorry … can I help you? You don’t happen to have the right money do you? We can’t open the drawer.”

If you don’t have the money for “smart tills’ just get your staff doing stock takes at busy times, or hack them off so they are miserable and surly with everyone, or target them to cross-sell more (without training them how to do it properly) or introduce an automated telephone answering system.The staff are totally distracted by technology and internal procedure and as a result completely ignore their customers.

Follow these simple guidelines and you too will find that shelves remain neatly stacked, phones don’t ring, carpets are not muddied, the postman’s delivery is light and peace and tranquillity can be yours. Customers – who needs them?

Be sure to let us have your observations. How have shop-keepers or suppliers made sure you went elsewhere? Please let us know – we can feel a regular column coming on!