Thursday, January 12, 2006

When Are "They" Going To Learn?

Having been in some sort of retail business for 29 years or so, I sometimes have to wonder at what passes for customer relations these days. The practices employed by some companies makes me shudder. Especially when that company is in the bicycle business. Since I work at a shop, it hits a little closer to home, I guess.

Recently, there have been some not so pleasant reminders of poor company communications with their customers. One of them not directly related to the shop I work at, and one of them is. Both instances of poor customer relations are similar in these two cases. The customer wants a product. Product in question is new, and not yet available. A date is given by the company as to when to expect delivery of said product. guessed it, the product doesn't show up when promised. A new date is given to expect the product by, and...........yep! No dice! Both situations have not been resolved yet, and both go back to the fall of last year. NOT ACCEPTABLE!!

Look, there are plenty of reasons that the companies in question might have for the delays. Some legitimate ones too, I'd bet. Problem is...........the customer doesn't know that! The company didn't communicate the problem to the consumer. The consumer is left to believe that the company lied to him, because what else is he supposed to think? Why don't companies communicate the problems they are having with the consumer? I suppose one of the things they are worried about is looking bad. Huh? Is that better than looking bad because you appear to be lying? Hmm.............time to rethink things, me-thinks!

Want to see a better examples? Check out Surly, or Salsa for some. Both companies utilize blogs to keep consumers updated on manufacturing hiccups, product delays, product developements, and to tell folks when to expect things to be in stock. Salsa also has some of it's employees posting on internet forums where they can directly dialogue with consumers. There they can disseminate information and gain valuable feedback. They are able to react to consumers demands more quickly, and can keep a product delay from being seen as a broken promise by explaining the circumstances behind it.

Communication people! When are they ever going to learn!

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