After months (okay years) of hesitation, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and purchase all new kitchen appliances (which, for the record, were all on their last leg). So to start, we researched products online, then took a few trips to major retail chains and finally had to face the grim reality of just how much it was going to cost. After extensive online research combined with good and bad shopping experiences and evaluating several brands and price comparisons, we decided on Sears. This was primarily due to sale price, brand availability, and, I have to say, the salesperson. I am a sucker for a knowledgeable, well-trained sales rep. She was great, seasoned and possessed unbelievable, in-depth product knowledge (which I was beginning to think didn’t exist anymore). We had a great experience all the way through the sales purchase process, warranty explanation, etc.

It wasn’t until the delivery process that things went sour. We realized during delivery that she had failed to mention a few additional parts that we needed to properly hook up our gas stove and microwave. Not to mention the big scratch on our refrigerator door. Still upbeat and understanding that these things can happen, I quickly pulled out her business card and dialed her number (or so I thought) and was looped to a national call center. A bit frustrating, but I was able to tell my story and start the process with a Sears customer service rep. The rep referred us to the salesperson, but couldn’t directly connect us and then offered a 30% discount coupon on our next Sears purchase (what?) for the scratch on our new refrigerator… To which I replied, “Let me make sure I understand what you are offering… If I come back and buy socks, you will knock off a few bucks?” To which the call center rep quickly replied, “Yes”. I could hear in his voice that he was pleased that he had done such a great job of communicating the offer. After expressing my frustration, he agreed to ship a new refrigerator.

Next, I called the store to speak with our salesperson and find out what could be done about the missing parts. I was expecting her to be outraged and do whatever necessary to make it right. She was not only rude, but couldn’t remember us (it had only been a week). She insisted that the parts were included with the order and should’ve been shipped. I asked her if she could look up our order just to double check. She agreed and quickly realized she had failed to order the parts, but said she could order them… for an additional $50. At this point, it became apparent that the “after sales” experience wasn’t going to live up to the sales experience. A great product and effective product training by the manufacturer didn’t impact the delivery and after sales experience, which ultimately negatively impacted customer satisfaction and retention.

Needless to say, I won’t buy from Sears again, and our overall satisfaction went from a 9/10 to a 3/10. I can’t wait for the customer survey card to arrive in the mail, or better yet, a phone survey. Also, we’re still waiting on the replacement refrigerator; and while it may be a great product, it is difficult to separate the product from the experience.

Moral of this story: don’t stop short of the finish line when educating your dealers. Protecting your brand and building customer loyalty continues long after the sale, and customers aren’t likely to separate your product from their experience.

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