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December 07, 2006

No, It's not all in our heads...

By now many guys think that customer inequality no longer exists. That women and men get the same treatment as long as the card clears. WRONG! It happens even to successful and tech smart women like Elizabeth Albrycht. Elizabeth runs her Corporate PR biz from France and recently reviewed In Women We Trust (thank you!) starting it off with a personal testimony and punch line...

The book is full of examples that I am sure most of my female readers can relate to:  shopping for electronic equipment or cars are two iconic ones.  I still seethe when I think about how I was treated at a major electronics chain a few years ago when I went there to buy a digital camera.  Standing at the outside of the square counter, with the (male) clerk behind it, I was ignored completely while he waited on at least four other men (some of whom arrived after me), then when he finally asked me if he could help with a sigh, I launched into my questions, which he really didn't listen to (he barely looked at me) and then, when he was interrupted by another man with a “quick question” that turned into a lecture on the benefits of pixels, I simply walked away, left the store, and vowed never to buy anything from them again.  And I spread the word among my female friends.  I bought the $600 camera at another store.

A) She walked away from the moment and the person and the store never knew why they lost the $600 sale. B) She "still seethes" thinking about it. C) She was kind and didn't mention the store's name in her well read blog, but she did tell her friends.

Is that what you want ? A seething customer who talks to her friends? I know, I know, it's customer service 101 and oh well... can't win them all... But that's the point. You CAN win them all, if you treat all customers with the same level of respect and acknowledgment. She didn't walk because the sales rep was busy, she walked because of his attitude towards her.

By the way, check out her full write up for the top tips that resonated with her.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for the wonderful review and also for letting other's know what's in your head.


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I wish I could say that was the only example I have of frustrating buying experiences! Alas no. To me, finding testimonials and information online has been a godsend. I don't have to deal with surly/indifferent/unknowledgable clerks. When I buy something, I now know exactly what I want before I get to the store (if I even go to the store - I buy most of my electronics and many other goods online now). Rarely do I change my mind when I get there. If I do, it is because the person selling to me is simply so fabulous, the shock of it all tends to send me into "buy more" mode.

If I think about the best experiences I have had with people at a store (or offering a service), the core ingredient of them was that a kind person helped me to solve a problem. Once a lovely woman LENT me a cable for my laptop overnight as the retail stores were closed and I was in a desperate state needing to check email and unable to do so. I was in a little town in France and actually cried in the office I was so frustrated (I ended up at a computer training center). She took pity on my fractured French, gave me the cable and told me to come back when I was done. Such an action renewed my faith in humans!

If only people would take a little time to help others solve problems in a kind way (not a condescending/warning kind of way), the world would be a better place.

Well said, Elizabeth. Solving problems in a kind way isn't sale's training, it's how to be human training.

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