Thursday, June 22, 2017

How Drip Marketing Can Sink You

Although your customers won’t love you if you
give bad service, your competitors will.

― Kate Zabriskie

Making the rounds on LinkedIn this week is a photo of a whiteboard.

On it, an anonymous scribbler has written, "Amazon didn't kill the retail industry. They did it to themselves with bad customer service."

Dear Whoever You Are: You got that right.

Drip by drip, retailers are driving away their few remaining customers, right before our eyes. Call it an odd form of drip marketing.

Case in point.

The faucet on my kitchen sink is leaking.

On Saturday afternoon, I took the faucet apart and discovered the likely source of the leak to be a failing "valve cartridge." So I removed the part and went out in search of a replacement.

The first two hardware retailers I visited didn't stock the part, and wouldn't consider ordering it. The third store I visited was a plumbing specialty retailer,
Plumbing Parts Plus.

At Plumbing Parts Plus, I was made to stand in a queue for 45 minutes in front of the parts desk, all by myself. A brusque sign said, "Sign into the log with your time of arrival." But there was no log. During the 45 minutes, no one acknowledged I was there.

I stopped an employee and asked him to venture a guess as to how long it might take to receive help. "He's busy," was his response. When the parts man finally deigned to help me, he couldn't identify the cartridge I had. The store was about to close, so he wrote down my contact information and promised to call me Monday morning.

Of course, he didn't.

I phoned the store Tuesday morning. The recorded message said―repeatedly―"Thank you for calling Plumbing Parts Plus. We value every one of our customers and promise the utmost in personalized customer service. Please stay on the line until someone answers your call."

When my call was at last answered, I was told the parts man, Pete, took Tuesdays off, and since no one but Pete could assist me, I should return to the store with the part.

I just bought the cartridge on Amazon, after only four―count 'em―four clicks
. I should have it in two days.

Dear Plumbing Parts Plus: Your form of drip marketing's all wet!
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