Attitude, the missing ingredient in retail

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Way back when I was in the corporate world and we had “Personnel” instead of “Human Resources” departments, I remember hearing the term “Attitude will always trump Aptitude”.

It has proved to be correct time and again with people I have hired or worked with in my corporate career, my own businesses, on committees and in life in general. I have seen many unskilled successes and skilled failures. Seen a lot of  unskilled failures and skilled successes too.

This is a post about attitude and an amazingly good customer experience I had at a retail store last week, but to put it in perspective, it needs a background so bear with me for a few moments.

In a post on 4 September about Internet marketing Lessons from an Antique Store , I wrote about my total lack of musical ability and that I had a set goal of learning to play a musical instrument. After Sue mentioned that a violin or brass instrument would probably cause all the cats to leave home and our children to become concerned for my sanity, I decided that a guitar would be the safest starting point. It might be something to do with being a teenager in the hippy era. I also decided that a used instrument would be more sensible than a more expensive one as a first step.

After buying what looked like a reasonable acoustic guitar, I searched the internet for instructions on how to play the thing. As for every topic under the sun, there is an overwhelming amount of information on guitar playing, guitars and everything related to guitars. I could not find anything suitable for a musically challenged beginner, but I did find the address of a music shop In London where I would be for doctor’s and  dentist’s appointments the next day.

I had a few hours to kill between the two appointments and it was certainly not worth driving 70 km home and back again. I had a good supply of  writing pads and an eReader full of reading material. I thought that after a few minutes in the music shop, I would use a table in the food court of a mall to work on outlines for blog posts study the music book and do some serious thinking. Because both the locks on my brief case were broken and not wanting to risk it opening at the wrong moment, I had used a shopping bag to carry my books.

Entering Walkers Music store in the Masonville Place mall, an older baby boomer like me, dressed in shorts (it was a warm day) and carrying a cloth shopping bag must have looked a most unlikely prospect as a music store customer.

There were two young men working in the store, Alex greeted me warmly and asked if I was looking for anything in particular. Feeling way out of my depth amongst an array of guitars in all shapes, sorts and sizes, keyboards and other instruments, I said I just wanted to look around for a bit.

After ten minutes or so, I asked Alex where I could find books about guitar playing, he directed me to a display of books and asked his colleague Constant to help me.

Alex then went back to serving two women who were trying out a keyboard, I could not help but notice his easy, conversational, non-pushy way of talking with them.

Constant asked me what I was looking for, apologised that the beginners book was out of stock but that if I had a few minutes he would give me some ideas and links to resources on the Internet. I had plenty of time, but told him that I was not going to buy anything that day. He was not concerned at all and proceeded to ask me questions about my musical experience – zero, why I wanted to learn the guitar, what music I liked and more. When he had a picture in his mind of my non-existent skills and abilities (a blank canvas would be more appropriate) he spent the next 30 minutes giving me advice, demonstrating chords, key signatures, explaining the difference between major and minor chords, showing me the same chords on a piano and generally giving me a really good basic understanding of the first steps to understanding and playing music.

He also told me how circumstances forced him to give up a promising career in professional sports and how instead of giving up all his dreams, he became an accomplished musician and turned that skill into a new career. That would be a wonderful motivating story on its own but I must leave that to him to tell. Constant is a music teacher who also helps out at the music store. It was my good fortune that I arrived before his first students and got the benefit of his considerable knowledge and experience. Finally, he gave me the link to an incredible website Justinguitar, a young British guitar expert who has put together a very easy to follow beginners course with over 500 lessons and more than 1300 videos. An amazing site.

As a customer used to indifferent service in every type of retail outlet from clothing to farm supply stores, discount outlets to restaurants, I was blown away by the attention  and help I received from these two people. Even though I did not spend a cent. I will drive to their store whenever I need anything that they stock and there is no question that I will buy my next guitar from them when I upgrade. I will also be one of their most ardent advocates and recommend them to all and any aspiring musicians I meet.

This was a superb example of providing service BEFORE the sale as an investment for future business and referrals. My experience restored my faith that there are still some excellent people in retail sales. It was a very rewarding and valuable experience for me and a sharp reminder that many of us in Internet Marketing could learn a lot by studying successful off-line customer service attitudes.

To both Constant and Alex, a big thank you and with winning attitudes like that you will both have brilliant futures.

To readers in South West Ontario, if you need advice on buying or playing a musical instrument the shop phone number is 519-660-1460 or visit them on-line at the link below.

Disclaimer, I have no commercial relationship with Walters Music Store,, Alex or Constant. Just happy to recommend them because of the excellent customer experience I had.

Listen to this post here.pod04sep17

Wishing you success,

Peter Wright



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