How to (not) keep your customers
Most of the time it’s all about photography on the blog, but I know you guys also love some business tips in between.
Let me start by stating that both me and Annewiek have been running our own companies for over 25 years so we definitely know how running a business works.
Customer care and happiness
One of the most important things is keeping customers happy and giving them the feeling they were treated fairly. This doesn’t always mean the customer is right, it means that in the end the customer understands the solution and in most cases is happy with it. Let’s be clear, some customers you can never satisfy and they will try to get the utmost out of a situation and even don’t feel any shame to threaten with courts even if they are 100% not right, in all cases they will actually not push through but at that point for us as a company the trust and willingness to work for a customer is also gone, so always be careful how far you push a well willing shop/company
let’s give you a recent example and als the reason I think it’s important to write this as a business tip.
It’s no secret I love playing guitar and recording music. So during the pandemic we build a nice small studio setup at home, which we also use for the digital classroom episodes that stream from our home (something we couldn’t do before and now half of the streams are done via this setup)
The heart of a setup like this is the console
I bought a second hand console which worked like a charm but due to my switch to the M1 macs I needed to upgrade it and the choice was a behringer x32, the problem…… it was out of stock everywhere and when calling around delivery times of June this year would be expected (this was November last year)
To my surprise a huge music store in Germany did claim they had stock, even 2, so I immediately ordered the console and because the next digital classroom was 10 days later I expected it all to work out great, however my order didn’t update to shipped, at first I tried some emails and when I got an answer it was always the same “I see it in the storage and it will be send out tomorrow” now in the Netherlands a day is 24 hours and unless I missed something major it should also be in Germany. In the mean time we were almost 5 days further and the weekend was approaching so I tried to call them to hear the same, delivery on Saturday was absolutely no problem, it was on stock as they have been telling me from the start, they were actually surprised I asked because the site said stock…. Somehow they didn’t seem to understand that if I order something on Sunday that’s on stock I expect it to be shipped the latest on Tuesday. But we were now already on Friday.
via a friend of us we found another x32 that was offered via Amazon and decided to order that one also because mails and telephone calls to musicstore.de were very problematic with vague answers and more an attitude like “we send stuff out when we think it’s time and now stop asking”
the next day my x32 from Amazon came in and much to my surprise on Monday the x32 from the German store, because the other one was already installed we immediately send the x32 back to the German store unopened and the next day we got it in, of course we did mail them about it and because they have a 30 days money back option we didn’t expect any problems. Also because on their website the x32 still was not send out so although I did receive it there was no tracking number etc. If this was the case I have some understanding of what happens next.
much to our surprise we did not get our money back, in fact we got the message after asking a few times that we had store credit and that they did this manual, so I had to order for 1699 products and mail them and they will then handle that. This was the moment I started to protest and feel uncomfortable a lot.
Finding excuses to not pay up
excuse me…. Why do I need to buy 1699 in products (which I don’t need)?
Their response was pretty shocking and shows little to no customer support
According to musicstore.de the product I ordered COULD be used for a commercial product and send back, and their rules are simple, if you order something that could be used for a concert or event and send back they never give money back……
This is a bit like saying, we sell clothing and have a 30 days money back if you don’t like it, but if it’s a product that could be worn for a day you don’t get your money back.
For people that don’t get this….
Almost 100% of music products that are being sold could be labeled like that.
You could use an effects unit for a show, a guitar, speakers for a mix, mics to record etc. The only thing you can’t really send back of course are strings. So in essence they claim they can decide if they feel like giving money back or not and for us it was the end of the line, we had to spend 1699 otherwise there was no option, we even offered to pay restocking or for shipping, but no…. 1699 in credit.
now luckily we still have income during the pandemic but also for us this is boatload of money that just disappears now and can’t be used for food, mortgage etc. I can imagine for people that save for a year to be able to buy a product from musicstore.de will get into financial problems for the simple reason 1699 for most people (including us) is not the kind of amount you just spend for fun
but if you think it ends there….. no way
I decided to order 3 products which in essence I might have bought in the next 1-2 years. So my Xmas and birthday presents came early for the next 2 years.
Two products were in stock when I ordered, one not
It took us at least 4 hours calling to get everything in order, of course you never get a call back, and waiting times can be huge while another time you get someone within 10 minutes. But hey its a lot of money.
by the time we had the store credit it was another week after my order, and now…. One of the products was sold out but because I ordered it I expected to get it anyway (when we take orders the products are locked to that customer, even with backorders they are delivered in order of the order time)but no such luck, after a few mails demanding they deliver at least what’s on stock I never got an answer but the first product did came in.
after 4 weeks we saw that product 2 was on stock and I expected to see it delivered…. No luck so after a week (we are not unreasonable) started mailing again, no responses, so tried different mail addresses, no response, after a more demanding mail we still didn’t get an answer but two days later the product…. So it seems that keep pounding at the door does seem to help.
we are now months later and my third product also came in, so that was the time to write this article (first wanted to make sure it all was in) Now for us, the bizarre thing is that they claim that my mistake was not cancelling my order, the story that I did call them several times and also mailed them I would send it back a day after receipt because someone else did deliver out of stock all doesn’t count according to them….
so what is the learning part?
First of all…
Listen to your customer
without customers your company doesn’t make money, and customers have to come back, also mouth to mouth is the best advertising you can have, one angry customer can do more damage than 100 happy customers. So listen to your customer
We have a rule of 24 hours, if you mail us we respond asap, even if we don’t have the answer.
Keep your client updated
This can be done via your site and order system, or just answer their mails when they ask about orders
service also beyond
You can always mail or call us about the products we distribute. Even if you didn’t buy them from us, we stand behind our company and if someone is unhappy about a product a dealer delivers and doesn’t have the answer this could be negative for our products while in real life 99% of the problems are easily solved. So we always try to work seamlessly with our dealers. Which helps the reputation of them, our products and our company, for the simple reason they trust us to also get other products from us.
the customer is almost always right
As mentioned before not all customers are equal but in our book the customer is always right unless it’s 110% sure he/she is not. But even if we find the customer not to be right we will try to find a solution he/she is happy with even if it means we have to take a hit financial (to a certain extend)
What could they have done better?
Well they broke almost every rule
We didn’t feel taken serious because we were treated like a nagging child waiting for it’s gift while in essence we were waiting for an expensive piece of gear that I clearly told them had to be in before Saturday.
when they didn’t deliver due to their mistakes in communication or transport we were held responsible for the costs and had to buy other products which they again messed up in their communication and even when the site said stock it took us several mails pointing them towards that fact before they send it out, all without a response from them by the way. So ok we didn’t cancel the order via the website, but this is like we make 10 mistakes and we don’t give a f7ck but you don’t mail us to cancel so bad news for you……
So how to make the customer happy?
Simple. First of all, just deliver what you promise, stock means we send it out today or tomorrow or the first working day. When you have a customer that is not happy mark that customer and make sure that someone in customer support picks up that customer and makes sure from that point on everything does go smooth.
the most bizarre part,… my x32 on my customer page is still…. In transit…..
Musicstore.de is huge, they have a very nice site and what I can see store, but this was my first and last experience with them, we regularly order gear from Baxstore, KeyMusic and Thomann and never ever had problems with returns or customer support, in fact all three call you up and when there is a problem all three are super easy with returns, and that way they will always see me back and I send a lot of friends to them. Musicstore.de lost us as a customer but did gave me the perfect example on how not to do business…
feel free to add your ideas or experiences
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