The topic of interaction between the buyer and the seller has been studied since the beginning of exchange and commodity-money relations. Today we will talk about a phenomenon that has arisen relatively recently and is a "sore point" in many companies - consumer extremism. Elena Vinogradova, SR expert in sales and purchasing in the fashion business, shares her thoughts and gives recommendations on how to interact with extremist buyers.
All clients of the company can be divided into several categories:
Your direct target audience, those people who buy from you regularly, a lot, are loyal, committed and recommend you on occasion. It is on them that you direct the key focus of attention, 80% of your time and other resources.
A group of irregular customers who bought once or bought rarely, from time to time. They can go to category "A".
Peering segment. They visit stores, they know about you, there is no shopping experience yet.
Not your audience. They don't buy, if they buy - they are dissatisfied with the result or the shopping process.
Extremist buyers can appear in any group, but most often these are the "C" and "X" categories.
In Wikipedia, consumer extremism is defined as the behavior of consumers or their associations with the aim of obtaining certain benefits and income by manipulating consumer rights legislation for personal gain. By its very nature, consumer extremism can be an abuse of procedural law.
In the process of preparing this article, I launched a survey on my work blog on Instagram - @ fashion.business.blog, aleatherg my audience - store owners and employees - a few questions:
The topic received a lively response, more than 200 people took part in the survey. I will share the results:
When characterizing the “extremist,” the survey participants used, for example, the following definitions:
Where are the roots of consumerist extremism?
Let us turn to history.
Everyone knows the expression "The client is always right". According to various sources, this rule is attributed to the American millionaire Marshall Field, or his employee, and then to the successful businessman Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of the famous London department store Selfridge. The postulate dates back to the XNUMXth-early XNUMXth centuries, since then a lot has changed, but a number of companies still build on this their communication strategy with the client.
Consumer extremism appeared in our country in the mid-90s and continues to this day.
High competition for a customer in conditions of low demand and a constantly decreasing purchasing power of the country's population forces retailers to fight for a buyer by all means. And the consumer, feeling his high importance, often tries to use his rights not for protection, but to obtain benefits at the expense of the entrepreneur.
Russian legislation regulates the relationship between the seller and the buyer through the Federal Law "On Protection of Consumer Rights", but the peculiarity is that when it was written, the legislators were counting on the good faith of both the seller and the buyer. In our reality, both of them can behave differently. But in essence, the consumer is better protected.
As a result, the loyalty of Russian legislation in the face of declining demand gives rise to a wave of "consumer extremism", negatively affecting the market.
What extremist buyers actually do:
return a new product with signs of exploitation within the period established by law (14 days in the Russian Federation), convincing that the thing was not in use;
The participants in my blog poll added a few concrete examples with consequences to these manifestations:
1. "Pasting barcodes and aggressive behavior with the argument that" it was. " Fixation on the camera and further analysis with the security service helped. And also - modeling a situation that is supposedly dangerous from the point of view of labor protection (safety precautions). The fact could not be verified by cameras, as there was a "blind" zone in this place, perhaps the client knew this. The company is a foreign, customer-oriented company, they sent this buyer home by taxi with a free purchase. Such buyers appear about 3-5 times a year. " Elena, Sales Director.
2. “There are a lot of such buyers especially in spring and autumn. We know all the reasons, standard answers have been developed. We ask you to present a low-quality product, send it to an independent laboratory under Rospotrebnadzor and warn that if the check does not reveal anything, the payment for the examination will be at the expense of the buyer.
We also reserve the right to go to court to protect business reputation. It helps immediately, such “buyers” are instantly lost. If there really is a problem with the product: we make an exchange or return, we apologize, we give a small nice present for free (a cream sample, for example). Usually this is enough for a person to calm down and not carry the negative further to publics. " Marina, Sales Director.
3. “Most often, these are clients with endless returns, and exactly on the last day of return. Fortunately, there are not many of them. If a similar situation occurs at least 3 times in a row, the seller, in agreement with the manager, changes the "tone" of communication with the client to a cold-detached one, rather, as in the mass market segment.
There are customers who try to return used items as new. This is a rare exception. We had a client many years ago who greatly abused returns and exchanges of everything. I personally spent her last return, and said that we value our clients, but we value the work of our staff just as much. And that we do not rent things because we respect our customers. Therefore, we will not be able to carry out the sale in the future. After that, this customer became our VIP client, leaving 2 average monthly salaries of an ordinary person in the store. " Elena, owner of a retail chain of stores.
4. “We had 10 such clients in 7 years of work. I, as the owner of the business, inform the client after the next appeal (as a rule, I abused and came to return within the time limit established by the law, but the labels are in place) I inform you that, of course, the money will be returned to you, but I, as the owner, reserve the right to refuse further service to you. We have great respect for our clients and would like to receive the same in return.
The reaction, of course, is violent. With insults. As a rule, I do not react, I wish all the best, and surprisingly, after a short time, the buyer returns, and our cooperation continues without extremism, but we also pretend that nothing happened. " Julia, business owner.
5. “We often have such clients. Immediately they begin to provoke the sales assistant: “Why are 2 bonuses indicated in the SMS-message, but you can use only a part? The company is a deceiver, and so are you. " And off we go ...
We react according to the standard, in response we often get an aggressive reaction, for example: "You do not argue with me, because you are afraid of losing your job?"
Then, as a rule, such clients calm down and behave like quite adequate people. There is one client who comes in every day before the store closes and begins to "cheer up the girls." But she leaves, as a rule, satisfied, with purchases. " Anna, business owner
6. “These clients come 2 times a week. The main thing is to understand in time that this is an "extremist", but more often than not we know them, since they are stable visitors to the store (they definitely come once a month). Sellers know them and even have a code name for each. Most often, an administrator or a more restrained employee goes to work, who understands that they need to be on the wave with the client. We try to tell them some special "tricks" of the brand, with which the buyer will not argue, but only if we understand that he is ready to listen. " Evgeniya, store director.
7. “These clients are always bargaining. For example, a model costs 10 rubles, there is a 000% discount on it, and buyers go and ask for a discount more, more and more: "I will buy for only 50." They call all the shops, raise the ears of the sellers. We try to be friendly with such clients, but persistent: “We will let you know if there is an additional discount on this thing!”. Julia, owner of a chain of stores.
But there were other responses when the business completely takes the consumer's side:
almost 50% of the entrepreneurs surveyed go to meet extremist buyers by taking their side and doing what the client asks for.
1. “Such clients come a couple of times a month, more sales - more such situations. The owner immediately returns the money without resorting to any expertise. Perhaps such clients come again, this is not tracked in any way. If the client agrees to the repair, we repair it at our own expense, including several times. We always solve the issue in favor of the client. " Maria, a salesman in a shoe store.
2. “We have a customer who has been with us for 5 years. She buys expensive things, keeps them for exactly two weeks and brings them back. We owe her a refund. As a result of such a delay, the product sometimes gets a discount, for example, 30%. Out of ten purchases, he leaves one sometimes, but rarely. We do not know how to deal with this, because it operates within the framework of the law. " Alesya, buyer.
3. “Such clients do not come often, but they are regular ones. For example, an employee of another store in our own shopping center. I went out of friendship, with a good discount in installments, I took myself, my daughter, my friend. At the end of the season, she began to bring complaints: quality, inconvenient. They took all the shoes of different seasons to zero and returned everything, all the money was returned. For one pair, an examination was made (although in fact everything was within the normal range) - it was also reimbursed. In the men's clothing section, after the wedding, they bring suits with an invitation in their inner pocket. These are the clients who practice this all the time. It is useless to negotiate with such people who are well-versed in laws and nuances. " Alsou, owner of clothing and footwear stores.
4. “Part of my functionality has been working with customer quality claims for 13 years now. I have seen very different extremist buyers and I can say that now such clients have become especially legally savvy, they know that in most cases the law is on their side. As a quality expert, I can say that in any pair you can find a defect that fits into the Russian GOST, and the buyer will have to return the money. He, seeing the success of his conversion, comes again and again, and we will compensate him again. Basically, we meet halfway in order to avoid courts, inspections - what the client can influence on us. It turns out such blackmail on the part of the buyer. When a client acts constantly and arrogantly, and we begin to recognize him, we can use small tricks, in particular, say: "Sorry, your size is not." So what to do?". Julia, employee of a shoe company.
5. “They return by marriage about once every 2-3 months. The average cost of a unit is 10 rubles, and a marriage examination is 000 rubles. Therefore, we do not go into disputes, examinations and courts, it turns out more expensive for us. Plus reputation. The city is small, everything is in sight and heard. We make a return, but not immediately, in compliance with the deadlines (three days for consideration, some more time for a return), so that it is as long and inconvenient as possible. Then we write off these things.
Bona fide sellers also need some sort of seller protection law. Because our hands are often tied, we just have to smile and make a return. Now there are more and more such people who know their rights. We immediately see such clients, we try to calm down, stop the situation. There is no standard of work, there is an instruction not to enter into conflicts and disputes, we act according to the situation. But it happens over and over again with the same clients. " Julia, business owner.
The stories, as you can see, are very different. There are companies with clear communication regulations that defend their rights, there are those who are guided by the principle “The client is always right”.
But note: at least a third of consumers who have been assigned boundaries change their behavior and move into the "A" category.
For example, here is the position of Anna, a business owner:
“We strictly adhere to the standards of service, despite the negativeness of the client, we maintain a friendly attitude of the seller towards him and try to solve the problem. As a rule, 30% of such customers come back with a different mood and bring a good profit to the store. "
The same buyers who do not meet your reaction of disagreement, and see that you can get whatever you ask, continue their "extremist" activities with impunity.
Implications and opportunities for the company:
In pursuit of loyalty, we satisfy any client's whims, but in fact this leads to the fact that the consumer, like a spoiled child, demands to please him more and more. Moreover, the client does not always want what he asks for. As a result of such flirting, profits fall, and the situation does not change. Good service, meanwhile, is not equal to indulging any customer request. It is impossible to please everyone.
If you believe that the customer is always right, you (or your employees) automatically become guilty in the event of consumer extremism. But if you admit that the client can be wrong and understand that you can face his dissatisfied reaction (and consciously take such a risk), you create an environment for equal two-way communication and nurture your business partners in buyers.
What should be done?
You always have a choice: to sacrifice time, energy, team spirit, pleasing at any cost to the one who actually uses you and brings almost nothing in return.
Or focus on Category A customers who truly respect your principles, boundaries, time, and your people. And also allocate your efforts to actively search for a new audience, which will also allow you to grow.
Ultimately, the strategy to please the customer at any cost turns out to be a losing one. As in relationships, for example. The union of equal partners who respect each other is many times stronger. Therefore, it is worth betting on the education of the client-partner, and not the client-consumer.
About the influence of external factors
The increase in tension in communications with clients is often associated with seasonal exacerbations of the mood and behavior of a part of society, arguing this with mental illness as well.
I do not have such statistics, but there is a working practice that does not send to the search for external reasons, but to the organization of processes within the company itself:
That is, in addition to small-scale and subjective external factors, on which it is convenient to hang unresolved internal tasks, the number of such clients and especially their repeated "manifestation" depends on us, on the business itself.
Great service is essential, of course. We continuously strive to make our customers happy. But if this is achieved at the cost of damage to your business, at the cost of lowering the authority of the employee, something is wrong in this scheme.
The client does not have a dominant position. The client is an equal partner, this attitude must be broadcast among employees so that they can make the right decisions based on mutually beneficial cooperation.
Basically, you need to start with personnel management. If you are loyal to your employees, put them first and not the customer first, establish and protect the work principles, time and resource of your team, then in the end your people will show more loyalty to you and more care for customers. Which will ultimately lead to an increase in profits.
To work with extremist buyers, standards are needed - a communication regulation developed and agreed with all interested parties, which allows achieving several goals at once:
It is impossible to completely exclude such clients, but we can definitely manage repeated occurrences.
From the point of view of legislation, we might be helped by the translation of some norms of the law from mandatory to contractual. This would significantly reduce the number of conflicts between retailers and buyers, and as a result, our country would come to the kind of dispute resolution that already takes place in Europe, for example. There, 90% of such conflicts of interest are resolved out of court. But changing the law is a separate and long story, where not everything depends on us.
Summing up this hot topic, I want to reinforce the idea that buying customer loyalty by satisfying any of their requests is pointless.
All interviewed entrepreneurs and managers noted that such a policy does not work, extremism continues, this behavior is taken for granted by the client.
And on the contrary, when a company sets the rules and standards of work in such situations, the number of incidents decreases, at least in 30% of cases, extremist clients move into the category of loyal, adequate buyers.
I wish you an adequate assessment of the current communication system, the necessary changes, a decrease in the share of “extremist” buyers and as many “A” category clients as possible!
|Please rate the article|