Sunday, October 4, 2009

Customer Service: Difficulty of Redeeming Free Samples.

I never thought it would happen with an international premium and renowned skincare & cosmetics brand, but it has.

THE SCENARIO
Today, after my usual sunday church service, I went with a colleague to the HOMEDEC expo which was on at KLCC. As we were on our way to the expo, I saw the roadshow for a skincare brand, and decided to redeem one of their current skincare products, a complimentary 5ml eye cream, which was touted and promoted to be the value of RM45.

REDEEM COUPON/TEXT MESSAGE
In order to redeem the sample, I had to pre-fill an online profile, where a text message was sent to my mobile phone. However, the consultant did not even look at the text message.

So there we were, my colleague and I at the Concourse of this lovely shopping mall, hoping to redeem this heavily promoted taunted skincare product. However, in order ro redeem this free eye cream, we had to go through a so called "complimentary consultation", which we did.

THE COMPLIMENTARY CONSULTATION
Sitting at the well constructed, spanking white high stools, and facing bottles of the skincare products, the consultant asked us a series of questions that was designed to help us match our skin's needs from their range of skincare products.

How does the process of consultation goes when a customer goes in to a shop and would like more information of the products that is being showcased?  Which exactly is the most important part of the consultation?

The demonstration of the product?

Yes- Is Very Important.

How Else would we know what products your company has? It allows us to see face-to-face how they work, and the methods in which your range of products should be used.

Explaining the range of products available for customers.

Explaining and informing us of the promotions that your company is having, and what we will be entitled to.

The Closing- Just as Important. How do you treat us after the consultation?

Do the salespeople in the company honour the company's promotions?

Are they "Professional" about a non-sale?

HARD-SELL PUSHINESS?
After being subjected to the so called "complimentary consultation" process, we were then subjected to a case of "hard-sell" pushiness.

From what I have observed and experienced, it seemed the salespeople were more concerned in pushing their products, than being concerned of their customer's needs and cares.

The lady ended the consultation by asking which of the products we wanted to buy, conveniently forgetting about the "free eye cream sample" that we were supposed to get.

When she coined the question "which of these products would you like to bring home with you today?", it  took me a few seconds before the realisation that it was a loaded question sunk in....

After about 30 seconds of me looking blank, and looking back-and-forth at my colleague, the consultant gave up and then "die-die sound" (translated from cantonese) took out the samples from the shelf. After giving the sample to me, she was distracted by another matter in the floor, and had to move away for a while.

My colleague on seeing that, stated his dissatisfaction about the situation, as she had totally ignored him (because he was a male?) and requested for the free sample as well. You could tell that he was quite upset at being passed over.

After getting our complimentary samples, we walked off reflecting on what had just transpired.

THE VERDICT?
In retrospect, this situation would have seemed funny would it have been in a lighter mood. Yes, as always, when it is actually happening, it would never seem comical until much later.

It would have been funny that had when the consultant asked me,"which products would you like to take home today", I could have answered "if it's free, why not?" and giving a smile to that.. but of course, that did not happen in that manner.

Was it wrong for customers to want to redeem the free sample? Can people assume customers are greedy for wanting the free samples when the company did promote and did state that customers would be able to redeem the free sample subject to a consultation?

A skincare product may state it is "allergy tested", but each individual possesses a different skin structure and make-up. How sure is the company's claims that all except that one person's skin will not react to the ingredients in the product?

It had not even been five hours before the ingredients had settled in when I had the products tested on me and my colleague.

I would like to state the case of a korean friend of mine in Sydney.

Jurlique has a range of skincare types, and amongst them  was the sensitive skin range. As some of my friends had sensitive skin, they had used that brand, and a lot of them were raving about Jurlique. When this particular friend tried their range, through the testers available at their counter, she developed a rash on her chin within the next five hours after.

It was fortunate she did not purchase anything, or else she'd have to return the entire set the very next day!

TO REDEEM OR NOT TO?
My colleague shares this concern after experiencing this particular company's service. Before choosing to redeem the company's free samples, customers should read the terms & conditions because finally, in certain situations, the sales consultant will "reserve all rights" to release the samples.

If it was a genuine case of stock inavailability, most customers would be very understanding.

I have found out that a lot of my readers have stated that they have chosen to forgo redeeming the product samples from this particular company due to the very "consultation" nature of their product redemption transaction- which also includes the hard-selling component, which they found rather distasteful.

Companies that dare to make claims in regard to their products, should be confident in their products by giving out samples. The scenario goes that customers take the time and hassle to find out more information about the company's products and services, but instead are being hard-sold some products which they totally are not interested in.

If consumers try your products, and feel that your products i.e. eye cream live up to their name, and works for them, I believe they'll dig deep into their pockets  not because they were heavily canvassed to, but au contraire, because they really believe that the eye cream works for them.

Hard Canvassing can only work for so much of a time, but sales people that provide customers good service and quality products that actually work WILL rake in the due profit for a very long time to come.

GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE + CREATIVE PROMOTION + QUALITY PRODUCTS THAT ACTUALLY WORK = LONG TERM PROFIT. 


Think about that.

7 comments:

Miu said...

darn.. i am beginning to hate u for writing such great pieces of consumer and customer service art pieces now..

bravo.. i like your post.. in layman terms..

"si beh keng chau!"

not veli emo and veli good... sound almost like Public Service Announcement (PSA) for consumers/retailers alike.. maybe u should do youtube also!

CheaKyGal said...

hai... problem is.. not many people read complaint letters unless it is regarding a particular company..

most of the time, they are ignored...

every time go to shopping mall, sure kena one.. sigh.. KLCC, Midvalley...

Miu said...

Hey.. u might be surprised.. a lot of readers of mine like to read consumer right pieces.. n complaints.. bcoz..

let's face it yah..

we all kena this kinda thing! at least once, and to some.. a few times in a day.. until immune..

in msia we're spoon fed not to think for our rights and we grow up with the "close one eye" mentality which all the retailers/service providers here are having a gala time..

there's good costumers services around, including great spas, saloons, brands.. but there's also the ones that take us for granted.. and probably look like they own the counter.

if u make us happy, we make u happy..
it's a give n take situation..

even when we're broke, we still make u happy sometimes too (with the help of credit cards)..

so your posts are valuable information.. and something we all can learn..

CheaKyGal said...

Here is the un-named reflexology company i was writing about.

http://thebeautyregime.blogspot.com/2009/09/customer-service-money-induced.html

I wrote this entry to remind myself- and learn from this issue la. malaysian retailers don't really care about customer rights- customer is never right here.

yes.. the credit cards do help. but the SA sometimes do take advantage, even after we have bought something off them, as what I have found out at my last body massage. Hah! Trying to push their luck!

Vonvon said...

Wow!! Well done!! A great post which explores every angle of the situation.

criag said...

very thoughtfull post on customer service.It should be very much helpfull.

Thanks,
Kim -
Officetronics Sale

CheaKyGal said...

Here is a post on Viva Woman that I found on usefulness on free samples. Take note on the reader's comments on how they use free samples..

http://www.vivawoman.net/2009/10/03/what-do-you-do-with-cosmetic-samples/

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