Returns can be a big problem in our industry, so much so that there is a lot of work being done by industry associations to combat it—usually in the form of funding “consumer education programs.” But that can only go so far, given the bombardment of information consumers are hit with each day. And such a fix also runs contrary to the culture of companies today, who are cutting costs where they can, including hands-on sales training and one-on-one interaction with dealers.
On the other side of the coin is the fact that digital products are far more complicated than the CE products of the past. The days of plugging in your TV and simply turning it on are gone. For example, a video camera I have been using recently has so many video settings—HD, SD, Widescreen, DV—and complicated menu options that it can be easy to get lost. Worse is the fact that some of the video settings don’t work with most consumer-level (translation: affordable) standard video editing software. But my biggest complaint about the product wasn’t about why it worked the way it did, but that no one informed me of this, nor was the manual any help. I had to find out this information from a third party forum. It made me want to return the product out of spite.
There are some sales people out there on show room floors that still have an antiquated notion of how to sell—upsell, upsell, upsell. While there is still great importance to getting more money out of your customer, there is even greater value in selling him what he needs and can use. A dealer I spoke to recently who also does custom installation told me that he’ll often downgrade a client’s request if he thinks it’s more in line with what he is looking for. He understands that it is his job as an expert to offer the client a proper match of products and services—that’s what he is paid to do.