The Price of Satisfaction

When a box store boasts of 100% satisfaction, it becomes a challenge for the employees to find new and original ways to satisfy our customers. Add to this the unique clients with unique situations that are attracted to this guarantee.
Author:
Publish date:
WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

When a box store boasts of 100% satisfaction, it becomes a challenge for the employees to find new and original ways to satisfy our customers. Add to this the unique clients with unique situations that are attracted to this guarantee.

Working in an outdoor retailer as a bicycle technician allowed me to meet Mr. Blue for the first time by phone. I had finished tuning his bicycle, a two-year-old entry-level bike with some expected wear and tear. This prompted my call to Mr. Blue, to tell him that his bike was ready and to explain what issues need be addressed.

You must understand that Mr. Blue is an intolerably inquisitive individual with more interest in his questions than patience for to listen to the answers provided. In fact, my first two words of response had enough pause between each for him to fire off two more questions. With his inquisition, I learned that Mr. Blue had purchased the bike from a dealer thirty miles away. He believed he had been sold a used bicycle as new. He was preposterously frugal, and my simple repair call had become very complex. The last statement from him was “Will you tell “S” (the owner of the bike shop) exactly what you told me?” Without response, Mr. Blue hung up to call “S”.

I found myself a mediator a few minutes later when Mr. Blue called to say that “S” would be in contact, their conversation wasn’t fruitful, and ended with “S”, lacking patience for Blue’s inquisitive manner, hanging up on him. Smart man.

With the call from “S”, I worked out an arrangement, which solved their situation with limited contact.

Then Mr. Blue shopped our store for a new bike. His frugality surfaced with his first choice, a bike that had been returned after a year of use. Carefully, we steered him away from that choice still unable to answer a single question in full. Then we found a perfect closeout bike marked down fifteen percent, within his low price expectations, and easily matching the minimal quality, which he was accustomed.

Early in negotiations, the unwitting outfitter mentioned a coupon sent out to Co-op members allowing a twenty percent reduction off a full-priced item. Despite his rapid-fire questions, we informed Mr. Blue that he could use the coupon against the full value of the bicycle.

With this solution, Mr. Blue walked out the door to consider his options. Two days later the Vice-President of the retail division called our supervisor. Apparently Mr. Blue had contacted our CEO, a significant feat in itself, to solve his dilemma.

He wanted twenty percent off of a bicycle rather than fifteen percent; the deal we had already struck, effectively giving us the added support of the head of the company on this transaction. In the end, Mr. Blue had a friend from Oregon purchase the bike (no sales tax) and saved thirteen dollars.

He left with a bicycle and at least 95% satisfied.
-- Bruce Schuster, REI - Bellingham, WA

Through July 1, retail sales staff answered the contest call to submit a story of survival and perseverance in the face of challenging customers. The story titles with summaries that made the first round of qualifications are listed below, and each is now in the hands of our judges to decide on the top 10. You can read each story in its entirety by going to the contest landing page -- click here.

Ten lucky story writers will each win over $1,000 in product prizes based on the contest judges' votes. Here is where you come in! Of those 10, one will be named the grand prizewinner, cashing in on a trip for two to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007. Three others will be named official "honorable mentions," and in addition to the valuable prizes, each will receive a gift certificate that can be redeemed toward attendance at an Outdoor Industry Association-sponsored event, such as Outdoor University, Mountain Sports Festival or the OIA Rendezvous. The grand prize winner will be announced at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006. We will determine the grand prize winner and the three runner up winners based on popular vote (sorry judges) -- those among the top ten receiving the most votes win, it's that simple. This is for store pride, for knowing you have a winner amongst you, so vote as often as you like. Tell your friends. Tell your friends friends. Tell your dog -- but only if he can work a computer keyboard.

Deadline for voting is August 1, 2006.Click here to register your vote now!

Did you miss out on this year's contest? Bummer, but no worries. If you haven't already done so, outdoor retail staff can get ready for next year by activating a subscription now at www.snewsnet.com/freeretail/snewsarticle-contest.html. Then, watch your SNEWS® for announcements calling for our next contest entries and get ready to be a winner.

Related

For Kelty, 'The Price Is Right'

Six boxes of Kelty backpacks, tents and kid carriers are on their way to Hollywood for a shot at game show stardom -- Bob Barker style that is.The shipments will be divided into two prize packages that will make their screen debut in front of a live studio audience during a Dec. ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Hosed by a Clown

In my 20 years of owning a bicycle shop I’ve seen my fair share of people requesting crotch-sprocket bearings, gear boxes, and toe-clap strips. So I never really know what each day will bring. A young man came in wanting to purchase our demo bike. He seemed like a normal guy, ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Clashing Cultures

I've been working in the outdoor retail industry for years, but this was my first year working in the states. I had never come across such an amusing day like this before. To start with my accent (I'm from New Zealand) doesn't help the situation when talking to customers who ...read more

HFB Expo survey shows overall satisfaction

In the results of an annual independent survey just released by the management of the Health & Fitness Business show, nearly half of the respondents said they were "very satisfied" with the show.That's the good news. The bad news is that the total of those who said they were ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Rack 'em up...

We are often told to remember that we, as employees of authentic outfitters, do not always represent the majority of our customer base. We sometimes take our intimately detailed knowledge of our own gear for granted. A customer seeking a roof rack for his SUV drilled this point ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Where Are the Parents?

“Rule #1 for retail customers: No amount of apologizing you can do in defense of your children’s behavior can compensate for the effort you should have put towards actually watching them in the first place,” a knowledgeable employee explained on one of my first days of work.It ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Guide to Surviving Customers (Runner Up Award)

During my brief yet potent tenure as a retail employee, I’ve witnessed the gamut of customer species, ranging from the miserly Waddem tightus, whose survival depends on their ability to procure an additional 2% off any purchase, to the snarling Jerkis completem, whose only ...read more