Everyone claims that their service is what differentiates them from their competitors, and we often hear about under-promising and over-delivering in the era of “delighting” our customers. But what about when service breaks down? This is an example of just such a case with our experience at local bike shop.
We know that Covid has placed a strain on bicycle equipment and service. It seemed that in 2020 there were few if any bicycles available and replacement parts were nearly nonexistent. Many shops were swamped with repair work and shop work in our area was often scheduled 2-3 weeks out. It appears that in 2021, we are beginning to see a return to normal to some degree.
My wife is a year-round recreational cyclist who is also a bicycle commuter. She typically rides between 500 and 700 miles a month. We do the normal maintenance on our bikes ourselves, but she was having an issue with her front hub (a SON Dynamo hub), and we figured it was time for a professional tune up.
Our local shop has recently been bought by a large bicycle company, so my wife checked their website to see about their service packages. Looking over the service packages, she decided that a Level 2 at $139.99 plus parts should work for her, but she remained open to any suggestions that the bike mechanic might suggest.
Leafing through the circulars I received in the mail the other day, this montage of logos caught my eye. I thought that I had received the latest REI flyer until I looked a bit closer. It was a circular from Sportsman’s Warehouse.
Normally, Sportsman’s is associated with the hook & bullet crowd. But this flyer had no mention of hunting or firearms and only a small section on fishing. The main theme was about family; hiking together, camping together and fishing together.
They seem to be trying to attract a wider customer base than they have traditionally relied on. With their pending acquisition by Great American Outdoors Group (Bass Pro/Cabela’s), they will be part of a national chain of over 165 stores.
The company will be well positioned to carve off a significant junk of the outdoor dollars, particularly with smart marketing like this.
“First call resolution” is what they called it in a call center I supported. The core concept is that when you are contacted by a customer with a need or an issue, service providers work to meet all the customers needs during their first contact.
Our local bike shop could certainly take a lesson from that. (Well, it used to be our local bike shop, but they were recently bought out by a major bike brand from Wisconsin.)
My wife’s bike needed a tune up, so we brought the bike into the shop. (A whole other story that will be coming soon.) When it was time to pick up the bike, my wife and I walked over to the shop. I brought my bike along so we could ride home together.
With Covid precautions in place at the shop, I waited for my wife out in the parking lot while she went in to pick up her bike. Luckily, it was a lovely warm Spring day.
Or sleeping bag? Or boots/hat/gloves? It is always a tough question to field from a customer. All of these items are insulation that have relative values. Different customers have different standards of what is warm. Most sales people try to dodge the question. But some retailers allow the customers to decide for themselves.
At Alewalds in Stockholm Sweden, they installed a cold room to allow customers to check the product out for themselves.
I have seen these in the US in the past, the REI Denver store used to have one as did the Eddie Bauer in Bellevue, WA.
I placed a small order with Garage Grown Gear on Friday, April 2nd (Good Friday of Easter weekend). The order arrived at my home on the 6th. The order was complete and arrived surprisingly quick. Kudos to GGG.
What I really wanted to call out was the packing list in the box. There on the bottom of the packing list was a simple handwritten thank you note from Lloyd, a GGG employee, I assume.
It was nice to get a simple thank you, nothing showy or over the top. Nothing that made it sound like the employee had done me some huge favor by fulfilling my order or that I needed to reciprocate on. To me, it just seemed like simple heart-felt appreciation.
Sales associates: Remember common courtesy when working with your customers. “Thank you”, “Please” and “May I” should be a significant parts of your vocabulary. Say “Hello” and “Good bye” to your customers. Look for simple ways to add something a little extra to the service you provide. Remember what seems insignificant to you may have big impact on your customer.
Store managers; Set the expectation that you want employees to practice common courtesy not only when dealing with customers but also with fellow employees. Make sure that you recognize your employees when they do the little things for your customers.
Thank you Lloyd. I appreciate having you as someone that I spend my money with.
The outdoor industry has been working more in recent years to improve inclusion in the outdoors, sometimes more successfully than others.
Patagonia has truly gone beyond the typical efforts of hiring a more diverse looking sales team, adding persons of color to their catalog and supporting under-represented in outdoor endeavors. (All worthwhile attempts in themselves.) With their recent pledge of $1 million to promote voter access and to offset the regressive legislation recently passed in Georgia, Patagonia has broadened their inclusion work beyond retailing.
A great example of corporate responsibility, Mitch McConnell be damned.
I applaud the efforts of the outdoor retailers that are making an effort to encourage recycling, reselling and up cycling used outdoor gear. In particular, the work of Patagonia is truly commendable. But the Europeans are way ahead of us.
In 2018, I had the chance to visit Bergans of Norway in Oslo and in the back of the store, on the sales floor, was this repair/alteration/upcycle center.