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As part of my “lessons learnt in customer service” I have a positive set of lessons about how The Bike Barn do customer service.

Firstly a bit of background – daughter turning 10, wants a new bike since the old one is way too small, and half a day going from store to store.

If you wander into a department store, you get no service at all, but then you don’t expect much more.

What amazed me was the lack of service from the bike stores. They sat my daughter on a bike or two and basically said “that’s the one for her”. There was a bit of technical justification (which was helpful) but that was pretty much it.

By the time we reached The Bike Barn we had already decided on the bike from the previous store. They were all basically the same and it was the right colour. We didn’t even see The Bike Barn when we walked past the first time. We were tempted to just skip it and head home to relax, but I decided to duck in for a quick look.

We had a glance around, saw some bikes that basically looked like all the other bikes and were about to leave when the sales rep caught us. We were tempted to just excuse ourselves and bolt, but we decided to give the guy a chance.

Within minutes he had us try a couple of bikes, but then had our daughter try the bike. Since this was such a big step up from her old bike (and we were pushing the limits on the size of the new bike) she was in new territory. The sales rep was amazing. He took the time to explain how to use this type of bike, tips on starting and stopping, as well as some tips for us as parents. And this is without the hard sell for the bike.

We then wander off and the next day we have to make a decision. In the end The Bike Barn won for a number of reasons (price and features being the primary ones), but if we had been given the same level of service as the other stores, then they would not have been given a second consideration.

So what did I learn for The Bike Barn Customer Service?

Help with the basics first, sell second

We sell temperature loggers. Most people don’t know what their responsibilities are, what loggers do, or how they can be of benefit. It doesn’t help me or the customer to explain the merits of my product when they don’t understand what they are or why they are beneficial.

The other sales reps were so fixed on closing the deal that they didn’t spend the time helping my daughter. The Bike Barn sales rep gave my daughter the time to teach her, and he benefited with us reconsidering their range.

Touch it, use it, buy it

On a slightly more sceptical note, I know from sales books that if you can get the product into someone’s hands so that they can emotionally start to take ownership, then they are more likely to buy. So a necklace in a display case is more likely to sell when taken out and tried on.

So by letting my daughter ride the bike, there is more chance that she will like it and want it. The fact is, however, when she gets the bike she will already have great expectations for the fun she will have on it because she is now confident enough to ride it.

At OnSolution, we don’t meet many customers face to face. But if any one would like to try our product before buying it, we will often ship the product to them for a 30 day trial. If they don’t like the product or it doesn’t do what is required they can send it back to us. If they like it, they pay the invoice. So far no-one has returned the items because once they have it in their hands and have used it, they know it is simple and saves them time and effort.

Be nice

It’s great when you walk away after having a pleasant conversation instead of feeling like you’ve just had the sales pitch.

Or am I just biased

OK, I have to admit I didn’t learn anything. They just reinforced my ideas as to what good customer service should be. It’s a bit of a free promo for them, and helps me reflect on how I run my own business.