What price customer service?



I am currently looking for a new road bike, as I’m planning to do a tri-athlon within the next year. I have been to three shops to look at bikes, get information etc and have widely differing experiences of engagement and customer service during this time. Let me share with you a brief summary of it.


The first shop I went to is a long established, small independent retailer. When I walked into the shop I was greeted and quickly asked what I was looking for. I gave a brief introduction and I was put in the hands of another member of the staff. He proceeded to tell me a little about some bikes that were in my price bracket, not getting too technical and then we spoke about some gear such as pedals and shoes. I felt that I had been well looked after and was happy with the level of service I got.


I next went to a large, national chain. I walked into their cycle department and despite my obvious interest in the road bikes none of the several staff in the shop approached me. I found a bike that looked about right for my needs, it was a new model, and there was clearly a price on it. I approached one of the staff, explained my requirements. When I pointed out the bike, the ‘lad’ said that the bike was a new range and hadn’t been priced yet – first fail. I then asked for a quote, was handed a leaflet and told to ring national call centre – second fail. With which I left the shop, I could not believe the lack of interest when it was clear I was in the market for a purchase.


I then found a third shop, a newer, small independent retailer. The shop being run by the owner and his brother who are both keen cyclists. The service was markedly different; they could not have been more helpful. They were really keen to find out my needs, they then showed me several bikes that might be of interest; taking the time to tell me the pros and cons of each. They then went on to actually sit me on a bike, set it up and adjust it so that I could get a real feel for what the bike would feel like. I did not spend anymore time in this shop than the other two, however, the whole experience was fantastic. I felt valued as a potential customer and that the time had been taken to meet my needs.


Needless to say, I will be buying my new bike from the third shop. Even if it was a little more expensive, I know that I would be getting the right product for me and that I would get the individual attention to make sure that everything was just right.


My observation here is that I spent approximately the same amount of time in each of the three shops talking to members of staff, yet the value I obtained from the third far outweighs the other two. All three shops had the same opportunity to win my custom and sell a bike. However, only one spent the time really understanding my needs and wants.


Not all sales are made on the basis of cost; that may be the case for ‘commodity’ items but where it is an emotional or ‘luxury’ product/service, cost becomes much less of a factor. The perceived value of the product/service then is more important.  In my case the time taken during the consultation whilst looking at purchasing a ‘luxury’ item has given me confidence in the product and the supplier.


What is the characteristic of your market place, are you selling a ‘commodity’ product or is it something more emotional or luxury? How do you currently market your product or service? How much time do you spend understanding the needs of your potential clients or customers before recommending a product? What is your approach, ‘one size fits all’ or do you tailor your offering to meet the perceived need?


Some questions that you may wish to consider.




Written by Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron is a Business Coach, passionate about helping business owners to grow and develop their businesses to achieve the lifestyle they desire. Founder & owner of Ignition Coaching.

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