The Bed Expert: Customers that purchased elsewhere

Vic Smith, owner of independent beds retailer Vic Smith Beds, talks about what options are available when dealing with a question from a customer that purchased elsewhere.

No matter what we sell, we all have competitors. Despite what we would like to believe, people have done and will do, go elsewhere. We don’t often get a chance to find out why either. It could be something as silly as your product being slightly over their budget, or one of the staff having a bad day, projecting that onto the customer. But sometimes to add insult to injury, you’ll get someone come in, they have bought the product elsewhere, it’s gone wrong in some way with delivery, or they have a problem with the product afterwards, and want your advice as to what they should do. 

Now here lies the dilemma – if like what we do in our advertising, which quotes as us being the experts, technically they are correct in coming to us for advice. But we are human, can’t deny it doesn’t rankle that they didn’t value the expert advice in the first place to trust us with their money and then come back to us as second fiddle.

So, how do you deal with it? There are three ways in my opinion that this scenario can go. The first is the most obvious one and send them away telling them that they should have bought from you in the first place, and issue x, y or z wouldn’t have happened. But the danger zone with that, is that experience remains their last potential memory of dealing with you.  

The other two scenarios can go one of two ways – you can give them the advice of how best to deal with their problem, and hopefully, they are either able to cancel their mistake (of course not buying from us is always a mistake – again often used in our advertising!) and place the order with you. This results in their recommendations to friends and family being that they should come to us. Or the last way is that you give them the advice, the order remains with the original place, but there is a hope that actually they do regret their choice, and their answer to friends and family would be to come to you in the first place.

Like everything in life, it’s a gamble – but bills don’t get paid if you don’t sell or turn things around.

Now the big question is – do you ask why they didn’t buy the product from you in the first place? We would – because all feedback, or to politely put it, constructive criticism is necessary. Just because you don’t want to hear something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. And you must be open minded enough to take it on board. We all need to grow and evolve in our businesses, and dare I say it, that would be one of the best forms of training. Because we don’t all know everything about our business model – our customers are not the same as they were 30 years ago. They have more choice, more ways to hunt things down. And as I said at the start, we don’t often get a chance to find out why we weren’t necessarily ‘the go to’ this time.

If you get a chance to turn a negative into a positive – grab it!

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