I’m trained to look for customer-service lessons in my everyday life, whether or not they directly relate to bridal.
   I believe we can learn something from each industry, and many takeaways are universal. So naturally, I was interested in hearing about my mother’s recent experience at a Jeep dealership, where she was placing an order for a new car.
   Now, I think almost everyone is aware it isn’t the ideal time to be car shopping. Inventory is low, prices are high and the attitude of most salespeople seems to be: you don’t like it? No problem. We have ten more people lined up waiting who will!
   Nonetheless, even under conditions like this, a car is still an enormous purchase and how you treat customers matters. Not liking any of the (few) options on the lot, my mom went through the process of designing her own Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport on paper, to the tune of $53,000. However, before that custom order could be placed, the salesperson she’d been working with came down with COVID and had to quarantine. So the dealership, eager to complete the sale, paired her up with another guy whose role was to finish the process (they’d split the commission 50-50). She showed up in person with every intention of doing this.
   Only. . . the way he treated her was 180 degrees different than the first guy. Abrupt and impatient, he left her with the impression that “he was clearly frustrated with me” for asking so many questions about the order form. Turns out someone – it’s not clear who – had altered a couple features from her original order. In addition to being annoyed she’d discovered this on her own without them telling her, she wanted to know why it happened. The claim was it was done in her best interest, followed by some technical talk she didn’t really understand.
   She said the salesperson, clearly impatient with her questions and the fact she didn’t “get” his answers, kept trying to brush aside her concerns and she left that day feeling unsettled. This is about the time she called me to vent and, by the end of that discussion, had come to a conclusion: she’d get her deposit back and place the same order at their competitor.
   Just like that, a big sale was lost and the original salesperson, whom she’d liked, was out a 50-percent commission through no fault of his own (the manager she spoke in the aftermath with promised to do something for him). But ultimately, her overall takeaway, which I 100% agree with, was: this is too big a purchase for me to walk away feeling unappreciated and unsettled. I told her she should never walk away from ANY purchase feeling unappreciated and unsettled, especially not a big one.
   Her experience got me thinking about what, on the surface, are some pretty basic lessons: customers want to feel valued and appreciated. They aren’t experts on a subject you know so well, and it’s your job to communicate the intricacies to them in a manner that shows appreciation/respect and also that they understand.
   Beyond that, this fill-in guy clearly took her for granted as a surefire sale but, as the saying goes, “the only certainties in life are death and taxes”. At any point in the process things can fall apart. Amazing service isn’t an until-the-product-is-picked-out thing, it’s an entire-process-of-the-purchase-and-beyond thing. It doesn’t matter who you’re working with because each and every employee involved in the transaction represents the same brand in a consumer’s mind.
   And the effects resonate far beyond that one sale: do you honestly think my mom will ever refer anyone – be it friend, family member or real estate client – to that original dealership again?