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The Out of Towners: What Industrial Marketers Can Learn From Retailers

Fri, Jan 17, 2014 @ 11:40 AM / by Chuck Lohre

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I'm reposting a portion of a blog entry I read on Retail Design Diva dated November 5, 2013. Titled "Vacation Retail Tales," it's about a lost cell phone, customer service and redemption.

Industrial Marketing ServiceVacation Retail Tales -- Thanks Teddy at AT&T in Tarrytown, N.Y., for saving our vacation. A vacation that started off without a hitch until that panicked pat-down, which can only mean: “Where’s my (^$%@&) phone?!” While driving along the Hudson River (I couldn’t resist a quick email check), the missing iPhone signaled end of good times—at least for a few hours. (Thanks to CNN Money for the Tarrytown photo.)

The post continues with the writer retracing her steps from Starbucks to the quaint farmers’ market to find the lost phone. She receives helpful advice along the way -- in particular from a kind gent who suggests using the app to find it.

Eventually she writes, she and her travelling companion decide to pick up a free-ish replacement at AT&T. There she learns from Teddy Kang, the customer service rep, that her "Mr. Husband" could upgrade to a new phone but not she. And that's when Teddy's assistance and knowledge kick in regarding the options before them.

Industrial Marketing Customer ServiceHere’s the point, she writes: Teddy clearly and patiently pointed out our options and there were plenty for replacing/upgrading either phone. He spent time making sure we understood the up and downside of any decision. (Thanks to the Denver Business Journal for the photo.)

While under Teddy's care, an intermittently working Home button on Mr. Husband's iPhone is replaced with a digital one. Back home we’d been told we’d need to replace the phone. Nothing more could be done, sorry.

And back to the hotel, where they find the wayward iPhone on the coffee table and off they go to tell Teddy! There, Teddy helps again by adding an Apple ID for her phone, downloading the Find iPhone app and installing a digital Home button.

Industrial Marketing Customer Service AdvantageAnd the post goes on: I don’t know that we’ll be turning in our iPhones just yet, but I can say we’ll probably stick with AT&T—at least for the rest of our contract. I don’t mean to be mean, but I don’t think our local AT&T back home was nearly as accommodating or clear, for one, with the terms of our agreement. To be fair, perhaps I’m not the best listener and, yes, our store has many friendly and helpful associates. Maybe it takes a near crises far away from home for anyone (like me) to actually pay attention to what they’re signing, agreeing to or buying. And there you have it. Customers demand a lot from the store associate, while letting themselves slide on their end of the deal. (Thanks to iOSDoc for the photo)

But, I certainly won’t be forgetting Teddy in Tarrytown anytime soon. He sure knew his phones inside and out ... plus he offered his card and said he could help us with other questions even back home.

The post ends with a call for action from readers to submit comments. And they did -- including Teddy who offered his thanks and again offered to help the blog poster.

Okay, full disclosure here: I am Mr. Husband. So why repost? Because I witnessed this textbook example of the salesperson's opportunity to put his customer at ease though his extensive knowledge of both AT&T's products and services. 

The retail industry offers a number of shining examples. Starbucks and Apple have "hyper trained" employees, so too does Nordstrom, who will go to great lengths to satisfy a customer's need. Toyota is known for having the best-trained salespersons in the industry. In our "mystery shopper" surveys for clients, salespersons that ask the right questions to ensure the proper part is ordered, get the highest marks.

These days everyone is a "retail customer" even if they're buying industrial products and you can see why. No buyer wants to be treated poorly from being given off-the-mark advice or the wrong part. In orther words, take the time to show (not tell) your customer how you can solve their issue.  Be consultative in your approach and train some "Teddies" for your team!

If you liked this post, you may enjoy these: "Great Industrial Marketing Ads"

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Written by Chuck Lohre

Owner of Lohre & Associates Marketing Communications. The company celebrated their 80th Anniversary in 2015, his 38th.