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So my daughter turns 16 next Friday and I, being the awesome Dad I am, take her shopping. As a 16-year-old girl, one of the gifts she wanted was a pair of Tom’s shoes. Maybe you are familiar with Tom’s? For every pair sold, a small child gets a free sink in a developing nation. Anyway, the only place locally that you can find the miracle shoes is at the Mall. So we enter the marble paradise on our search for the magical shoes. Passing by the local shoppers, I was reminded of a recent area obesity study. We finally find our Toms at a store called Journair, which I think, is French for “We have really bad customer service”. As we entered the “manager” a 19 to 20 year old female was sitting on top of the counter barking orders to a young man who looked like he just stepped off the desert island from LOST. As we began our search the young man ran away or maybe he just disappeared and the manager yelled “So how you doin…”. She didn’t say doing, she said “doin…”. I replied, we’re fine and then returned to the shoes that we obviously have some interest in purchasing. After a few moments Miss Manager yells, “how you doin”, again missing that ever important “g”. I looked up and there is now another customer embarking upon the search for a pair of shoes. The customer looked a little scared, but said, “I’m fine”. Finally my daughter found her found the pair she was looking for and I held them up and asked 8 ½. Miss Manager looked at the other customer and said, “can you get you something so I don’t have to make an extra trip?” We finally were able to give a few “sheckles” for the “merch” and we were on our way now understanding why the Internet is winning.
There is an old story about a young man that entered a store to be greeted by a friendly employee asking why they were visiting the store that particular day. The young man replied he was looking for a part for a light switch, but he didn’t know exactly what it was called. The employee said, let me take you to the lighting area and let’s see if we can find your part. The employee walked with the customer exchanging pleasantries until they landed in the lightening isle. As the customer looked, the employee began asking what the part did and the customer began describing the design and feel of the part. The employee smiled, looked up, grabbed a part and said, “Is this it?” The man smiled, said “yes” and purchased the item. This story has been brought to you by the fine folks at Wonder Bread. Remember those days, the “olden days”. The good old days or maybe the golden days. Those days are gone and have been replaced with “What you doin…”
As we continued on our journey at the mall I decided that I would like a hard copy of a book I had been listening to on Audible on my Iphone. The book, “The 4 hour work week” is an amazing listen, but I would like to study it, Highlight it, and implement it in my life. I’m so enamored with the concepts I had purchased 10 copies online at Amazon.com earlier in the day. I’ll receive the books, which I will give to employees, friends, and clients about Monday, but I wanted a couple for my kids. As my daughter and I approached the counter, there were 3 people standing looking really “unbusy”. One was on her pink phone texting, the next looked at us as if to say “we’re talking here?” and the 3rd a young man said “Can I help you?” Ok! I’ve got some customer service; Do you have “The 4 hour work week”. “Ummmmmmmmmm, let me see, we actually don’t, but I can order it for you?” I said, no worries and began leaving the store. As we left I said, that’s why I bought the 10 copies online this morning.
The Internet is winning. I’m starting to buy about 75% of all my nonfood items online. I’m 43 and tired of the poor customer service, continued lack of in store products, and paying much more that if I buy it online. From the above stories, the sole reason people used to choose a store vs. the Internet was the “talking factor”. You could actually talk to someone, touch the product, and make sure it is what you wanted. Today, you don’t talk, but do what can sometimes be referred to as a communication square dance where one party must dance around the other to figure out what the other party is trying to communicate. This results from a lack of training and most companies putting money into their electronic infrastructure instead of their human employees.
As an independent insurance agency we have an amazing opportunity to create a point of difference with our clients. Most over the phone, but in our every day face-to-face interactions, we can show why you want to do business with our firm. The way we answer the phone, the question sets used, the listening skills of our trained employees allow us to utilize the “talking factor” to our benefit. As far retail items, I’m pretty sure that very soon 95% of my purchases will be online. As an independent insurance agency owner, my partner and I strive to separate our company from not just all other insurance agencies, but all other companies. Think of your experience when entering an Apple store, that is the experience that one day our clients will have either walking into our office or when our staff meets with our clients at their location. Not just an interaction, but an experience. The bar is set so low for the delivery of most products and service. Take advantage of YOUR opportunity to create a point of difference, a positive-amazing-change-your-life experience for your clients.
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