” Have you bough it here?” and the golden after-sales opportunity.
When you sell something, you’ve met somebody’s need, but when you repair something, you’ve solved someone’s problem.
In Japan, there is an old fine art called Kintsugi which translates with “golden repair”.
Kintsugi is the art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.
Every break is unique and instead of repairing an item like new, the 400-year-old technique actually highlights the “scars” as a part of the design.
Using this as a metaphor teaches us an important lesson: Sometimes in the process of repairing things that have broken, we actually create something more unique and beautiful.
Whilst our society seems to be obsessed with “new”, many people have an emotional connection with their old possessions, be them clothes, pieces of furniture, working tools, books, etc, even if they are not items of value, memorabilia, or precious things that keep or see their value increase with time.
Unfortunately, many businesses seem not to pay enough attention to the after sales, or repair shall I say, side of their business, at least from a customer experience point of view.
Let me explain: while it’s (quite) common to be welcomed with a smile when we buy something, and to be taken with reasonable pleasantness through the mechanics of the buying process, everything changes when we approach the after sales counter, or division, of many businesses. This is where all the friendliness and simplification are gone, and the company shows it bureaucratic, Kafkaesque side.
To make things worse, and provided that the business is equipped to do so, the awfulness of the experience grows exponentially when you dare asking to repair something you haven’t bought from them. What a shame, what a pity, what a missed opportunity!
Recently, I had an experience that portraits perfectly what I am trying to convey with this blog post:
While traveling the strap of my handbag broke and I decided to visit the local multiband retailer of the international brand from which I bought my bag (they don’t have a mono-brand store in that city) to have it fixed, hopefully on the spot.
Things didn’t go quite as well as I hoped….
When I approached the brand’s counter of this large store, I got suspiciously acknowledged by a salesperson, who seemed to have spotted already that I was not there to buy (yet), and who asked me if I needed any help.
When I said I was there to have my bag fixed she asked: “Did you buy it here?” and when she heard “no” as an answer, any trace of interest and desire to help disappeared from her face.
To make a long story short, she pointed me to the after-sales counter, a dark, “unassuming” spot located at the end of the otherwise elegant, yet dated, store and I had to talk to three more people before someone, presumably a senior brand or division manager, offered me any concrete assistance.
Many readers would agree with me that this was an opportunity to provide a potential customer with a reason to come back and buy that the retailer missed completely.
What many companies haven’t’ realized yet, is that customer experience is built upon every touch point and every single interaction between a client/prospect and that the after-sales stage is a great place to impress them, and win them for life.
I always say that an existing client asking for assistance is gold, but someone who didn’t buy from needing your aftersales support is platinum.
Think about it: they come to you already sold on your product category, they don’t need further marketing investments to get to know you, they are willing to listen to your pitch because they ultimately need you to solve their problems, and if you can make the experience pleasant you’re going to save the day and win a loyal client for life.
While not every business can service their products, let alone their competitors’, many can do it and they should think about making it a great experience for their clients.
If you have a sales superstar in your team, let her/him work in or lead the aftersales department.
They’ll turn problems into opportunities, frustration into loyalty, and prospects into clients.
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