A Sure-Fire Way to Tick People Off & Lose Customers For Life

May 24, 2011

How One Flower Shop Lost More than a $2,000 Sale

Be nice to people; smile; say please and thank you; listen to others; don’t interrupt.  Simple stuff right?  Seems like common sense, especially for those employed in the service industry.  However, experience repeatedly shows that COMMON SENSE IS NOT ALWAYS COMMON PRACTICE!

Last week I arrived early to a business meeting where about 25 colleagues and I were scheduled to review a project.  Several of us try to arrive early to hang out for a few minutes, slam some coffee, and kibitz about current events in our lives.  On this day, someone asked my colleague, Kristen, “Hey, how’s the wedding planning going?”  For the most part everything was going great, except for one small thing…

Kristen proceeded to tell us a horrific story about a local flower shop that broke every written and unwritten rule in the customer service handbook.  Their policy was to talk incessantly, hurl a canned pitch, spout out as many useless facts as possible, avoid answering any question directly, and be sure to tell the bride why her favorite flowers stink.  I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details, but trust me when I tell you, they were dead wrong in their approach. This is not some bridezilla tale here; Kristen is one of the kindest and most gentle souls you will ever meet.

Despite the ‘hard pressure sale’ that followed, she said “no!” and went down the street to spend her $2,000 elsewhere.  At this point in her story, there were now 12 people in the room, actively engaged in the coffee klatch.  It occurred to me – all of us know this flower shop.  We drive by it on a regular basis; some may have done business there in the past.  Would any one of us do business there in the future?  Probably not.  There are simply too many competitors in this marketplace to accept mediocrity from any service provider.  So shop “x” lost not only Kristen’s $2k…but immeasurable future dollars from the potential customers who heard her tale of woe.

Countless books have been written to help people learn the principles of good human relations, including Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  The great thing about this book is that the concepts are simple; dare I say “common sense.”  However, as this example demonstrates, common sense is NOT always common practice.  I wonder what the world would be like if we all tried to be a little bit more like Dale?  How might our businesses grow?

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Alabama, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Huntsville, Alabama. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @DaleCarnegieALA

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