This post is not about bikes, it is about life and human interaction. Bike content in the future, to be sure.
Rural America, small business and large business in general, wake up! Every interaction with customers is important now.
You’re not the only game in town anymore. Your business will be buried if you don’t work on your customer interactions and if you don’t get flexible. Large businesses, there are A LOT more of you out there now that are easily acessible. Small businesses, every single interaction counts. Every. Single. One.
The new economy, powered by the internet, is here and has been for almost 15 years, trying to ignore it is worse than short-sighted, it’s idiotic. Transportation is still cheap enough that if you can’t/won’t help someone or you give them a bad experience, they’ll go to the next town to (large retailer) or order it on the internet from (large e-retailer). Every customer interaction should be a personal mission for point people to show they care and they want your business/interaction. It’s easier than ever to get what you need from a multitude of sources cheaply and quickly. Every interaction is important now.
Here are some examples.
Weeks ago, I spent the day in a small Midwestern town that I don’t live in. I had (4) interactions with people who, ostensibly, are expected to serve the public. Out of the (4), only ONE was successful and pleasant. This is bad.
I went to (large retailer) first because I needed a male-to-male HDMI plug. I checked their website before I went and thought that I saw that it was available. I searched the area of (large retailer) that should stock said item, I couldn’t find it. I found a staff member working the area and asked if they knew where it was. Their response: “We don’t sell that, you should shop somewhere else.” That was it. Annoyed, I asked, “Are you sure? Your website says it’s here. Can you look or show me where to look?”, after an angry sigh and an annoyed look, they took me to the proper spot in the miles of aisles and we looked together. Sure enough, they didn’t have it. I apologized for being sharp and left the building. However, due to the interaction I had I’m now going to shop at (large electronics retailer) for that plug now, (large electronics retailer) has a reputation for helpfulness and efficiency. Good work (large retailer) you lost my business. This may seem like a tiny drop in the bucket, but I’m going to tell my friends about it too. We may not hurt your bottom line, but we can change your local reputation for customer service. In the internet age, reputation can be MORE important than dollars.
Then I went to (local public library). I needed to study and I wanted to listen to some music while I did so. I’d never been to (local public library) before, and I’d heard middling to poor reports about their patron interactions, but I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, reports turned out to be true.
I found some cd cases in the stacks and took them to the front desk to get the actual cds. What followed was a back and forth with a librarian, where due to non-residence and disinterest in spending money on a free public service (library card) the cds were ultimately restricted from use. STUPID! I wanted knowledge (music) which at a library should be freely given, and I was denied. There are so many other ways to get what (local public library) has I may never go back in. I would have, however, come back again and again, and referred others to go in there. But alas, it was not to be, I suppose. Every interaction is important now.
Next I went the local coffee shop/bookstore for a pick-me-up. When I went in I looked at the board, and didn’t see the coffee that I wanted. I asked the barista for a straight black coffee, which wasn’t on the menu, and she was happy to make one for me. Her response, “Sure, we can do that!” She was quick, cheerful, and she made it clear that you value to our interaction. This is the way business should be done in the modern economy. She will get repeat business from me, and I will refer as many people as I can to go get coffee there.
Finally I went to (large fast food chain), to get a fountain drink for my wife. I know that they have a super-modern machine with multiple flavors and styles of soda. I pulled up in the drive-through, and made the crazy order that my wife wanted. It sounded good so I ordered one for myself too. However, the fast food worker told me that the only way for me to purchase that was for me to come inside. The super-fancy soda machine is in the dining room, which is three steps away from the counter. I wanted to spend about seven dollars on soda and this person couldn’t take three steps. I went in and ordered the stupid soda, but I won’t be eating there again.
I was infuriated but not totally surprised by what I experienced. The reason e-retailers and the internet have become so incredibly dominant is because of exchanges like this. Brick and Mortar stores have been struggling because they’re not chasing every sale by focusing on every interaction. Every. Single. Interaction. Matters.
That is all, thanks for listening.
Bike content to come next week. Look for “Reintroductions”