Oh for the days when customers appreciated a sales rep.
I long for the days of rotary phones, yellow tablets, cedar pencils and a pocket full of change for the pay phone.
The internet is a big killer in our industry. It has eliminated exclusivity with product lines. It is so embarrassing when a customer looks up a stock number of the product you are offering and points out the fact it can be bought on line for less. (Really)
Brick and mortar has been replaced by elaborate web stores linking to all major suppliers. Pricing has been reduced to competition between “garage store bandits” and legitimate businesses.
Fighting this problem is very easy. All you have to do is offer service, quality and a reasonable price. Service is not free and the good customers will realize this after their first experience on the internet. Purchasing custom apparel or products on the web is a big risk when you are shopping for price only.
At Northwest Apparel we love it when a customer has abandoned us for the internet and returns with stories about their terrible experiences. Incorrect colors, wrong logo, wrong sizes, shortages, hidden charges and no place to complain are a few of their horrible experiences. Most important trying to resolve problems using e-mail is near impossible.
The future is bright for companies who actually answer their phones actually service a customer and are a living breathing human being. Yes, change is coming but it is nothing to fear. It all revolves back to personal relationships and a friendly smile.
Author: Jim MIckelson
CEO of Northwest Custom Apparel