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Swing on in ...

Porch swing
Not actually the swing I bought, but I would have.

When your sanctuary gets old and rusty, you have to find a new refuge.

My retreat is a cheap porch swing I bought eight years ago for my back deck. A tiny escape where I would swing in the breeze and read at night snuggled up in a blanket. I worked in it. I swang and snuggled my niece and nephew there, making up fairy tales to delight them before they shouted, “another one!”

It wasn’t much, but it was mine.

No browse, all buy

My refuge lasted a long time, but recently it was time to get a new porch swing. I researched all the places that sold such things online and I learned a LOT about competitive pricing, user experience of these (generally) awesome websites, and one giant lesson in customer service.

See, most people don’t browse in shops anymore. Certainly not for big purchases. They dig around online for the best price, do research, and expect customer reviews. People go to a store with a product number and walk out with what they want.

It creates a new dynamic for the store and explains why there’s never any staff in giant warehouses full of products.

Why do you care?

Because whether you’re a retail giant or a mom and pop, your website has to offer more! Unless you’re selling a product people enjoy browsing, like clothes or houses; you’re going to have to tell the visitor what makes every one of your products stand out. What’s special about it? Details like colour, size, and compatibility with other products is essential information.

Tell your customer how many you have in stock, allow your customers to leave reviews of the products, and for god’s sake - if you sell a million products - make your products searchable.

My final lesson has to do with customer service.

Sale made

When I chose the model of swing I wanted, I called the store and placed a hold on the item. I left my name and number and said what date and time I’d be coming to get it.

Upon arrival at the store, I was told there was no hold placed on the item, and the price I saw online was no longer available. It was now more than $100 over the price listed online.

I immediately whipped out my phone and looked up a competitor who had a similar product for the price I wanted. I was ready to leave the store and head to the other retailer, when the store manager I’d tracked down told me he’d gladly honour the price.

Let’s say the woman who was serving me gave me a face. I won’t say what kind of face, but it was a definite face with a capital F.

The manager even stopped to straighten up a shelf that was askew. He clearly cared about his store and getting the sale, while the woman didn’t.

I'll take it

The fact is, I had choices. And I wasn’t just purchasing the swing. I also needed deck stain and the accoutrements that come with cleaning up an outdoor space. The total on the bill was what the swing would have cost me at full price. I walked away happy and the manager made a sale he would have lost out on if he hadn’t been available.

You’ll notice I’m not mentioning where I shopped. This is not a customer review. It’s a wake-up call.

Wrap it up

In this economy people care about cost, but in the digital age, user experience is just as important. Moreover, customer service is ALWAYS the most important aspect of any sale.

Wondering how to index your products online? Need some content to show how your products beat the others? Want some customer experience coaching? Penguins do that. Reach out to find out how we can help you!

P.S. I wrote this in the porch swing. Expect more from my backyard soon!

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