It never ceases to amaze me how brick and mortar retailers find more ways to do themselves in while blaming e-tailers for their plight. Today’s example is Big 5 Sporting Goods. To be fair I rarely shop there, but have a few times over the years.
A few days ago we saw an ad for air mattresses and sleeping bags; two things we needed. Rather than buy them online from amazon, we decided to go to the local Big 5 to buy them there. Waste of time … unfortunately.
It was difficult if not impossible to figure out in the store what was actually on-sale and what features the various products offered. The signs on the sleeping bags suggested their “regular price” suggesting, at least to us, there was some other price available, but that was difficult to actually figure out.
After spending about 10 minutes trying to decide what to buy, we went to get help. At our Big 5 the only employees available to help you are the two cashiers. Thus you have to wait until they have cleared everyone in line before they can help. The cashier was friendly and modestly knowledgeable, but really left us more confused.
We decided to go home and buy them on amazon. Easy, probably about the same price, and, no hassle with lots of info. Too bad they lost the sale … to amazon. Not really, they lost the sale to lack of service. But at least their advertising got us into the store.
Digging through our archives we found this article from the 1999 issue of Electronic Business that Ralph wrote. It does not appear to be available online (even though the world-wide web existed back then), so we are posting it here as an image that you can read.
Mitch & Ralph
As I said in the prior five posts in this series, one of my Group Executives at Teledyne, Roy Fields, said those words to me (If you can’t fix it, feature it) and they have proven hugely valuable. This sign is just another example of how great that thinking can be.
It’s also a great example of how to respond to negative reviews.
I had the great pleasure to be interviewed on Terry White’s weekly radio show, Focus on Biz, about marketing. We spent a lot of the time talking about bringing new things to market as his adult children were preparing to launch a new to the market business and we spent a fair amount of the interview talking about the challenges of being first to market.
I was thrilled to learn that the radio station felt this was the best of Terry’s interviews ever. (Just bragging, but he did say so.)
Give it a listen.
Bayer is buying Monsanto. Many Americans recognize Bayer as aspirin, but really they are a global drug maker based in Germany. Monsanto is a global agri-products maker with a truly bad brand reputation at this point. So, smartly, Bayer is going to end the Monsanto name. Normally killing off a 117 year old, well-recognized brand would be a dubious strategy. In this case it is genius, since the Monsanto brand has become toxic.
Bayer will keep the product names/brands and claims they intend to “…deepen their dialogue with society.” And “…listen to our critics.” Time will tell how this goes, but meanwhile they are able to shed the baggage that became the Monsanto name.
Any observer of customer relationship management today can easily see we now live in a two-way world. Brands and companies no longer control the conversation or message delivered about them to the marketplace. Sharp companies have dedicated people monitoring social media to make sure the company knows what is being said about them, so they can respond appropriately. It is truly a two-way conversation … when it is.
I was reminded of the anomaly in this in a post by the Customer Value Foundation. They noted, accurately, “Have you noticed when dealing with companies, especially through the e-media, the company can get in touch with you? They contact you when they wish to. But when you try to get in touch with them, you cannot, unless it is pre-ordained by the company you can contact them.”
Think about it: how many companies that you deal with via the web make it impossible (or at least way difficult) to call them. Try to find a phone # for amazon. You can if you work hard at it, but it is not easy. And they claim to be totally customer obsessed. As long as you do it their way.
In the name of “efficiency” too many companies today are killing effectiveness. But then if they all do it, finding an alternative company to deal with can be difficult. Customer experience is likely now the only sustainable competitive advantage as almost everything else can be copied or replicated. However, if your company’s definition of “customer experience” is that you will be outstanding as long as the customer does it your way… I’m not convinced that is really a Customer experience focus.
There is an expression that I am reminded of: It’s better to have customers talking to you when they are not happy, then talking about you. And in today’s world everyone as the internet microphone.