A few months ago, I started seeing a local outfitter's online ads for Lucchese boots. The more I saw the ads, the more I wanted to buy a pair. They were beautiful boots!
The last ad I saw offered a 20% discount on the boots through the end of the month.
I didn't hesitate. I clicked on a link that took me to the seller's website. But since I never buy shoes or clothes without trying them on, I was searching the site for the store's hours.
The website was not impressive. I couldn't find their hours, and I couldn't find pictures or even a mention of the boots showcased in all those ads.
I finally found a phone number, so I gave them a call.
My visit to the store's website was disappointing, but my telephone experience was even worse.
After the fourth or fifth ring, a woman answered with only the name of the store and then "please hold." And then...nothing!
It took me a few seconds to realize I was on hold.
After what seemed like five minutes (but was probably closer to one or two), she picked up the phone. I let her know I was interested in their Lucchese boots and asked for the store's hours.
"We're closed," she said.
No effort to answer my question. No "I'm sorry." No "but we'll be open at 9am tomorrow."
I was so frustrated I hung up without saying good-bye.
That company obviously spent time and money trying to attract my attention. And they did a good job drawing me in. But the excitement their advertising built in me was quickly eroded when I visited their website, and it completely vanished after being treated so callously on the phone.
How could this business have ensured that my customer experience matched the expectation they encouraged with their ads?
1) They should have made the product they were advertising easier to find on their website.
2) They should have made their store hours - and other basic information - easy to find on their site.
3) They should have taught all their employees about the value of proper telephone etiquette. Answering my call with "Thank you for calling XYZ Store. This is Judy. May I put you on hold for a moment?" would have done wonders for my attitude.
Hearing her name would have made her seem more personable and suggested that she was taking responsibility for my call. And asking my permission to put me on hold would have given me a sense of control and reduced any stress. Pretty basic stuff, but what an immediate difference it makes.
4) My time on hold would not have been wasted if the owners had used that time to share information about the purchase and care of their boots, or tell me about one of their convenient services, or provide an on-hold offer, or reinforce the reasons for shopping there.
5) The company should have provided all of their employees with communication and customer service training. I clearly told the lady I spoke with that I wanted to try on their Lucchese boots. She could have said she was sorry the store was closed. And she should have told me right away when they would re-open.
Your customers will tolerate disappointment when you offer solutions, or, at the very least, a little empathy.
6) Perhaps most importantly, the company should have a more stringent hiring process to ensure that only happy, confident, customer-centric employees are given the responsibility of communicating directly with prospects and customers. Make it a privilege to represent your brand, not a chore for those unwilling to embrace the honor.
A solid Point-of-Entry Marketing program that focuses on providing a more fulfilling online and on-phone experience would have definitely brought me into that store to buy a new pair of Lucchese boots.
I did buy the boots, by the way. Two weeks later. From that store's competitor.