One and done

“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.

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How warm is this jacket?

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.

A nice touch

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.

Well done, Patagonia!

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.

https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/546679-patagonia-to-donate-1-million-to-georgia-voting

Way ahead of us

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.

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No thanks, I am just buying

Post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 1/9/2016

Version 2

I was on the road for the company I worked for at the time and after several flight delays had finally landed in Atlanta. If all went well, I had just enough time to get to my appointment with the Atlanta store manager.

As I was stepping off the plane, I hit my arm against a cabinet near the plane’s doorway popping my watch off my wrist. The watch skidded across the floor and fell neatly between the plane and the gangway twenty feet to the tarmac below. In the post 9-11 era, I did not feel it would be worth the time and effort to try to get the inexpensive watch back.

Picking up my luggage and my rental car I quickly headed towards my appointment. Feeling lost without my watch, I checked the dashboard clock and calculated I had just enough time to buy a new watch at the store before my 5 o’clock meeting. I had actually been eyeing a specific watch for sometime.

Once in the store, I headed quickly towards the watch fixture grabbing a sales specialist along the way explaining that I was in a big hurry and asked if they could help me with watches. I once again I told him that my immediate need was speed.

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Happy Birthday, Colin Fletcher!

Photo: John Sexton / ALDHA

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Colin Fletcher. Those outdoors people that came of age in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s probably came across some of his writings. The most notable of these was the how-to book, The Complete Walker.

I received this book as a Christmas present when I was 12 years old and it changed my life. I was in the Boy Scouts but only knew about backpacking very vaguely. This book opened a whole new world to me.

Two other books that deeply influenced me were The Appalachian Trail by Ronald Fisher and National Geographic and Home in Your Pack by Bradford Angier.

Stymied

Post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 1/21/2016

Version 2

As stores begin to make room for their summer assortment, they discount their winter outerwear making January a great time to buy.  I decided to take advantage of this and headed to the mall to find my next winter jacket. (It did not hurt that holiday weekend sales events were in full swing.)

Walking towards the storefront of one of my favorite brands, I saw signs proclaiming “EVERYTHING UP TO 60% OFF!” The signs only served to feed my expectations as I entered the store and walked past a salesman posted just inside the front door.  It was poor form of him to not greet me as I passed since he was not busy with anything. Continuing further into the store, I began checking out a rack of men’s winter jackets. The clerk finally called out a friendly greeting.

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