I’ve been a Best Buy customer for years. Yes it’s a big box store, but it’s the best of my limited options when I’m looking for decent tech right here, right now (yes, sometimes Instant Gratification Girl is just too impatient to wait on Amazon Prime next day delivery. Shocker). While I love technology, I’ve learned it’s significantly easier to rely on someone else’s knowledge for the finer points in the latest tech equipment. I do my due diligence by researching products and online reviews, but when I walk into Best Buy, 95% of the time I’m already committed to dropping an easy $100 — if not significantly more (fortunately TheCop doesn’t read my blog). I’m comfortable with the brands they carry and, if I have a question I can’t answer myself, I’m relatively confident their associates can.
Today marks the second time I’ve walked into Best Buy ready to buy something, been ignored while sales associates stood chatting in a cluster 20 feet away, and walked out again empty handed because it pissed me off to do all the work on the sale and then hand over my card to boot. I then walked 20 yards next door to Staples where I purchased an AC 1750 Dual Band Gigabit Netgear router in 10 minutes with the help of a sales associate who not only explained the finer points of the dual band coverage, but sold me the better router on sale that was equal price to the one I was looking at, then found it online at $10 still lower so he matched the price, then gave me another discount off because I was willing to check the status of my new phone eligibility with AT&T. Didn’t pressure me to buy a phone, mind you; just asked me to check so he could give me more money off my final sale.
But Best Buy couldn’t even give me the time of day. Even the greeter merely watched with disinterest as I walked, unheeded, out the door.
Irritated, I decided to tweet about my experience.
— Robin Smail (@Robin2go) April 25, 2014
I’m still waiting for an acknowledgement from them.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME????
How many times do I have to say this? If you establish a communication channel, people, You. Must. Be. There. Your customers are your lifeline, and your brand is in their hands. Protecting your brand is critical, and you have the power to do that just by joining the conversation that is going on about you. The conversation will happen with or without you; it makes sense to have your ear to the ground, so to speak, so that you can acknowledge the happy customer or, god forbid, the irritated one. You know the kind. The one who, when she isn’t acknowledged, then takes her business elsewhere, then tells the store manager why they got her business that originally was going to a competitor, then tweets about it to 2,000 followers, then writes a blog post about her experience because tweeting wasn’t enough to mollify the irk, then has an online conversation with the people who not only favorite that tweet but then retweet and reply, airing their bad experience to the world… Yes. I’m that person. Imagine the damage I could do if I was really angry?
Those of us who work in higher ed aren’t immune to this behavior, either. Our students are our users and our customers. Are we giving them the best service we have to offer? Do we actually listen on our communication channels? Are we acknowledging them when they talk about us online? Are we celebrating with them when a student tweets about getting accepted? Are we trying to resolve a problem when they post about a bad experience on our Facebook page? Keeping a happy customer happy is sooo much easier than attempting to make an unhappy customer happy. Be there. Be engaged. Be present. It seems like such an easy thing to do, yet so very often we abandon our posts when our users need us most. Make no mistake — their loyalty is definitely up for grabs, and what they say and how they feel about you most definitely makes a difference. Customers with a bad brand experience are a bad thing, but you know what’s even worse?
Taking your users for granted.
PS. An hour out, and still no acknowledgement from Best Buy — or Staples, for that matter. Perhaps I should just learn patience and stick with Amazon, who rarely disappoints me.