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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Customer No-Service Vent

Normally I don't get too fired up about anything, but this one got me going so I have to share.
A few months ago, we got an invitation to come and look at Direct Buy, a membership based store that sells home improvement items to the consumer at wholesale prices. Think Sam's meets Home Depot. Partly curious and partly skeptical my wife and I decided we should go check it out.

After several weeks passed we finally scheduled a time to go, and began talking about a time line to do some remodeling to our basement and our living room we wanted to do. Direct Buy was a little off the beaten path so we got a little lost trying to find their store. That combined with all the construction between our house and their store put us a few minutes behind.

When we walked in the front door and were greeted by the receptionist. We said we were here for our open house tour. She looked at her watch and said, "Oh, let's see that started at 1:15 and it's now 1:20, so you're 5 minutes late. We have another time available at 3:00 or how about next Saturday?"

"Couldn't we just catch up to the group which is right inside that door?" I thought to myself.

She must have been able to read the look on my face because she said, "The tour starts promptly at 1:15 and since you're 5 minutes late you will have to reschedule for a later time."

To which we said, "Uhhh... NO!" and started to leave. On the way out the door, she stopped us and wanted our name so she could make sure they took us off their list.

When we got home I was amazed to find a voice mail from some sales rep at Direct Buy letting us know that we must have forgotten our appointment and she'd be happy to reschedule us for next week. Again my response was, "Uhhh... NO!"

What I know about customer service is that a good portion of quality customer service is accommodation. What I don't understand about Direct Buy is how they can exist, and not understand what I do about customer service. I honestly can't imagine trying to sell memberships at a fairly significant price per year to people who will then make large purchases of home improvement products like flooring, cabinets and furniture and then being unwilling to accommodate them.

Imagine someone walking into your place of business or even your church and saying "Hi, I'm here for the 8:30 service." and you look at your watch and say "Gosh, I'm sorry, but It's 8:35 and you're not welcome right now, you'll have to come back at our 11:00 service so we can tell you why you should give us your money and become part of our group."

Well, to the people at Direct Buy, I'm sorry, but I will not be recommending your company to my two friends that have major home renovation projects going on this summer and would have probably made great members at Direct Buy. In fact I'll be letting them know why they shouldn't join.

For more information on the customer no-service phenomenon, check out customer service guru Clark Howard.