Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I can fix some things around the house, but I'm not a handyman. I do love hardware stores, tho. I mean the old ones, where you can get lost in the shelves and shelves of every gadget, ratchet and wing nut known to man. Not only that, but the guy behind the counter had built everything in his lifetime, and could tell you about the inner workings of any number of gizmos. Those stores are fading away rapidly - I know there's at least one left in Little Rock, Arkansas - worth visiting if you're a doodad freak. Most are being overrun by the Building Supply Supercenters.

I was in one of those last weekend (I'm not a NASCAR fan, but I think they have a speedway somewhere) with a simple, or so I thought, question about my bathroom light fixture. I wanted to make sure I didn't break the fixture, or electrocute myself , and needed to ask someone what to do. The first "associate" stared at me blankly. " The second one wanted to play 20 questions asking me what I thought the problem was. If I had known the answer, I could have stayed home and fixed the problem. Neither employee was focused on solving the problem. I don't know if they had the knowledge to do that. But it kinda goes against everything this company brands themself as. Luckily, their direct competitor is right across the street. Not only did I find TWO employees who knew what they were doing - and what I NEEDED to do-, but everyone from one end of the store to the other was wanting to make sure that I'd had a satisfying experience, needed to find anything else, or required help in any way.

The successful business needs to understand that today's consumer will not tolerate poor or inattentive customer service. Today, marketing and branding is all about the experience. I plan to shop at store H instead of store L because of the help and attention I received. They made me, as a customer, feel valuable.

It costs a company more to get a new customer than to keep ten of their current customers. Some businesses are finally realizing that. Others still don't get it.

--Thanks For Reading

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