Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to Scare Away Potential Customers.

It's very easy to scare away potential customers, but most people have enough sense not to do it. Some people simply don't realize that although someone might like the product being offered, they might not like customer service provided. When selling on line, customer service is highly important. In person, we can touch the product, look around and fall in love with it enough to buy it even if customer service isn't the best. Even then however stores can loose a lot of customers. On line, we have to know that the item will be shipped promptly, packaged well enough to not get damaged and that it will be of high quality. How can I trust all these things to be done for me if I can clearly tell that customer service in this online store is a train wreck?

Now, why am I writing this post? Well, it's simple, something unimaginable happened, I got the worst customer service I have ever seen in one of the etsy shops. It was in fact a train wreck that just kept on crashing. Lets start from the beginning however. I entered a giveaway for a $25 certificate for anything in the shop. It was a bridal shop and although I am not planning a wedding, I know a few people who are. I figured that if I win it, I can either buy something for my friend's wedding or see if they can use this certificate. To enter the giveaway I followed the seller's blog, twitter account, liked her facebook page and favorited her etsy shop. I'm registered on each of these sites under the same exact name. Each of these sites can be used to find and contact me right? I received a message on etsy stating that it was very hard to find me and that I won. I must say, I was really exited that I won, so it took me a few minutes to realize that apparently it is very hard to check who is following you on all these accounts. I decided not to pay attention to this and instead went to the shop to look through the items and see what my friends might need. I found one item I liked and it was the only item I could afford, so I clicked on it to see the details. It is a hair pin with a flower on it. Costs $20. Shipping however was insane. It's $10.70 to ship it within the US and $46 worldwide. Honestly, I have been shipping packages much heavier than a hair pin (a few books at a time to be exact) and it cost me under $30. When I see someone with shipping prices like this, this is what I think: this person is trying to lure customers in by underpricing items but makes up for it by overcharging the shipping. I have seen it done on ebay, but never on etsy. It was actually rather shocking to me. I figured however that since I needed to ship it to the US it wouldn't be that bad because I had that $25 that can cover the shipping.

I wanted to ask my friends however if they wanted anything from this store so that I don't waste it on something no one will need. I also wanted to see if I can have my friends use the certificate, so I asked the seller if it would be OK with her. She said she doesn't normally do this, but she will do it this time if I give her the email address of the person I want to use this certificate. Well... I find giving email addresses out without permission to be disrespectful. Plus I really don't know email addresses of most of my friends since it's not the way we usually comunicate. I told her that I would have to get back to her on this after I talk to my friends. As soon as I sent here this message, I got on the phone and started calling my friends. In under an hour I was done and logged back in, ready to give the needed information. To my surprise, I found 3 messages from this seller in my inbox. First message was asking me for the name. Second message was sent about 15 minutes later stating that if she doesn't get the name within 16 minutes, she will have to pick a new winner since she doesn't want me to sell the certificate. The third message came just a few minutes before I logged back in stating that she picked a new winner. She gave me exactly 34 minutes to respond to her.

The end result, even though my friends loved her items and were willing to pay the full price, they ended up not getting anything after I read the messages I received because they didn't want their handmade wedding accessory from someone who would give this type of customer service. Even though I was thinking about using this certificate myself if I couldn't transfer it, I ended up not buying anything there because I don't like being accused in lying (I clearly stated that I wanted this certificate for one of my friends.) Plus she lost a few more potential customers because IF I would've gotten good customer service, I would've written about it on both of my blogs, posted it on all of the social networks I can and mentioned it in one of my YouTube videos.

So, in total, she made mistakes by
1. having the first message in accusatory, poor little me tone.
2. overcharging for shipping.
3. Suspecting a potential customer in trying to cheat her somehow (I don't actually understand why she was so against selling the certificate in the first place to be honest, financially it wouldn't have mattered to her) even though there really was no reason for suspicion as far as I can see. Besides, when I win items in giveaways I very often give them to others anyway, never heard anyone complain about using giveaways to get someone a gift.
4. Expecting to get a response in 34 minutes (honestly, people have lives, what if I had a fire alarm go off in the building, you know how long it takes to get that settled?)
5. Asking for something that is wildly accepted to be confidential (meaning email address of a third party)

Did I miss anything? I think I got all the most important mistakes she made during this little ordeal. Hmm... oh, she also wasted my time, but that's actually not as annoying as the rest of it.

I can add one more thing that happens to me every now and again as far as poor customer service goes although it didn't happen this time. When I am on the phone with a company sometimes the person on the other end starts talking very slowly and repeats everything twice after they hear me speak. That's because I have a slight accent. People who have English as their second language often know it better then some of the people who spoke it their whole life.

Something that often happens to others, mostly those who have long hair or facial hair is that they are sometimes being followed in the store by one of the employees because they are potential thieves. I must say, I've met a lot of people who match the description (my husband included) who would give money to a total stranger even when they themselves are broke. They would most certainly not steal. I do on the other hand know some clean shaven, suit and tie kind of guys who do steal all the time.

Is there anything you can think of? Something that would make you run away screaming from a store?

PS: I decided not to include a link to this shop because it might help her google rankings and because I don't care much for acknowledging shops like that.

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