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Saturday, October 16, 2010

How To Deal With Customers

I was at a local computer store this afternoon and I overhead a conversation between who I believe to be the owner and a customer. I didn't hear the whole conversation since I walked in half way through, but the part that I did hear I found startling.

The customer was ranting and raving about how much he hated the computer that he had brought in. He was livid about how it constantly lost data, crashed and generally didn't do what he wanted. He kept saying that he was going to try a Mac because of all of the problems.

Instead of talking the man down gently and being generally agreeable the owner decided to get into a verbal fist-fight with the customer. For every knock the customer had against his computer the owner had something to say about it.

"It just turns itself off after an update!" "It doesn't just shut down, it give you 5 minutes to save what you're doing!"

"The screen doesn't work right." "These things work fine. If yours isn't working it's probably a faulty card or something."

The owner kept trying to give the customer reasons that he should stick with a Windows PC.

"The Mac has 1 trillionth the amount of software." "I don't care. It's not a toy, it's a tool. I don't need lots of software, I just need something that allows me to get my work done!"

The icing on the cake came towards the end of the conversation when the owner said, and I quote: "90% of the world can't be wrong."

In this case, I think the customer was angry when he walked in the door. He was looking for a fight. Clearly the owner doesn't have children. If he did he'd have realized what the customer was doing to him. Instead of fighting with the guy, he should have just agreed with all of his points and suggested that he do try a Mac. The customer had already made up his mind that he wanted to try one.
When the customer asked questions that he didn't know the answer to he should have picked up the phone and called one of the Mac stores in town. That would have diffused the situation and earned him some emotional currency. He could have even gone as far as to ask one of the stores if they do rentals or have a try-before-you-buy program. That customer didn't come in to buy anything, he came in for some help. So help him.

If the customer did ultimately decide to go with the Mac, he'd only have good things to say about the store. He'd refer business over to them if anyone asked and was in the PC market. In the age when brick and mortar stores are close to extinction any way that you can distinguish yourself from a faceless web site and earn some emotional currency is worth the price. Yes you might lose a sale, but you'll just have earned some in the future.