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You just waisted hours on the phone being unavailable to other customers that could call you, waisted time and money to ship product. And your nerves. Is there any polite method to tell the people to go away somewhere else before they place an order?
For example, if they ask about discounts you explain how good the product is, rather then saying sorry, no discounts. Many people can smell if you want to compromise and will keep pushing. Or if they talk about problems you address them when it has nothing to do with the purchase. Aunt May does not like brown etc.
Voice tone is also very important. When I tell people no discounts they don't call back, they run.
As for returns you either have a return policy AND RESTOCKING FEE or you do not. Make that clear on line and during phone orders.
If, after a bad experience, they want to buy something else you say: "I'm sorry, sir/madam, we've been unable to satisfy you in the past and do not wish to repeat the experience. I'm sure you can find a similar product elsewhere." Then hang up the phone. Don't keep talking!
But I'm amazed people have the nerve to ask for help to be a competitor. I haven't had that happen yet. Though, I think I probably worried about that the first few years. Now, not so much, because when I think about how much work and effort it has taken just to get this far, I have to think there's not many people that would last.
It's now at the stage where if somebody actually calls pre-sale, they are almost certainly not in the market for my products - however there will always be people who just want to know that there is somebody on the end of the phone before they part with their hard earned, which is understandable.
Another thing you could do is to setup something like a helpdesk and online chat. It is faster to address emails/messages than direct calls and you can use templates for common issues.
The BEST thing you can do is send those people to your competitors.
And I learned about 20 years ago that the people who waste your time beating you to death on price will NEVER be satisfied, and are always the ones that cause problems after they become your customer.
You don't need them...
Anywho, we are open to the public as well, so we get plenty of people who look us up in the phone book and waltz in with some 50 year old part from a manufacturer that went defunct 20 years ago...and DEMAND wholesale price on a special order item that may take an hour of research to even find a potential replacement. I mean, these are parts which not even the engineer who designed it would be able to tell you whether it will work until he's tried it.
Well, after a few near-fights between our staff and 'customers' we instituted a Technical Service Charge and posted a nice big sign. Essentially, if you want to sit at our counter and ask us questions, make us look up parts, contact manufacturers, create special orders, etc., you're going to pay us $15 for every 30 minutes of work which go into researching the answers (we won't even talk to them until they hand over a credit card)...on top of paying MSRP for any item ordered. Those 'customers' who want to come in and argue and waste our time now take one look at the sign and walk right out the door again. Bottom line, if they're too cheap to be good customers, tell them you're going to charge them for wasting your time and they'll happily go somewhere else and waste their time. So far, in 2009, we have had zero Technical Service Charges in 27 B&M locations and no incidents between the sales staff and customers. Must be working!
Radeckd - I understand your frustration, I am often in a similar situation. But since you've done the first major steps getting the relationship off the ground, is it not pointless to throw it away?! I would rather waste my time than pass my business to someone else or throw it away.