Wil Wheaton Law

WARNING: Must Use Wheaton’s Law for Customer Experience


[tweetable alt=””]”Don’t be a dick…” – Wil Wheaton (Wheaton’s Law). “…to your customers”[/tweetable]

You remember that first time you went into a store to find they didn’t have what you wanted, only to be even more surprised when the staff member who was helping you recommended another store?

Wha? Aren’t you suppose to want me to spend my money here?

Actually, this is a great customer experience move that shows the organization cares about long-term relationship building over short-term disappointment. Or rather, you’ll come back because the store had your best interests at heart.

Unfortunately, it only takes one person to screw this all up. A friend of mine, Nic, recently had this great experience, only to have one store ruin the moment, not only for Nic but for the brand. I’ve shared his Facebook post (with his permission) below to tell his story:

I’ve been shopping for a new saddle for my “el-cheapo bike. When the lovely staff at Recyclistas and MEC didn’t have what I needed, they sent me over to Russ Hays Bike Shop. I made a point of telling the Russ Hays folks that the other stores had referred me there. The sales-guy then spent a good 10 minutes bad-mouthing both previous businesses, and talking about how the MEC and Recyclistas folks were idiots, and didn’t know anything… (Quotes: “You bought your bike from Recyclistas? You can just assume it’s not much of a bike.” “If you bought it from them, you should just assume you need to replace half of the components. You’re probably better off walking.” )

Way to be a lousy, crappy corporate citizen and bad-mouth the kind folks that spoke highly of you. I bought what I needed at your store, but you can sure count on me not returning any time soon. I’d rather buy from eBay than support a store that treats the rest of the local community like that.

I went to Russ Hays because MEC suggested they’d have a good seat selection. My beef isn’t with the stuff they carry, it’s with the attitude they have. It would have been very, very simple to politely point me in the direction of a more suitable store / vendor. Instead, they elected to speak poorly about other businesses that had kindly sent me to them in the first place.

I should also mention that the sales guy basically told me that I was wasting my time trying to get a more comfy saddle, and that I should chuck my whole bike, which I didn’t have with me, in the trash. This was by far the most negative experience I’ve had in my recent journey to get back onto two human-powered wheels.

Um, ouch.

With this example and the recent Comcast phone call, it’s a good reminder that it only takes one staff member…just one…to ruin an entire brand reputation for someone. There are far too many choices out there for you to give your customer such a bad interaction. It started so great for NIc, two bike shops who couldn’t provide what he needed, still showed a commitment to a great customer experience. It’s unfortunate that one bike shop, or rather one staff member, didn’t feel the same.

Customer Service Tips to Go:
1) every member of the organization is in customer service and is responsible for the customer experience

2) bad mouthing your competitors, just makes you and your brand/store, look petty. Even worse when those competitors actually provided better service.

3) don’t be a dick. (Wheaton’s Law applies to customer service as well as the internet)

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2 thoughts on “WARNING: Must Use Wheaton’s Law for Customer Experience”

  1. My experience at Russ Hays has been just the opposite. While I have found other bike shops snobby, on the contrary, the guys at Russ Hays are quick with a smile and a “How do you do?” – so much so that I will even stop in just to say hi sometimes. And yes, if they don’t have something, they will suggest other places that might. I have forwarded the link to this post to Martin Clermont, the owner of the shop, as I’m certain he doesn’t want any of his staff talking down other bike shops to customers.

    1. Hi Tori, thanks for sharing your experience. Happy to hear it’s been so positive. Unfortunately, one person can really impact how someone perceives a brand. The great thing is that in telling this story, many have come out to share how awesome this and other stores are. It’s the “bad practices” like this that really rally people to show their loyalty. It’s just too bad this individual didn’t understand the closeness of this community and how important people value that community.

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