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Tales from the Walt Vault: The funny things that customers do #1
The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
Now, don’t get me wrong. Before I start roasting my customers, I must tell you: I LOVE my customers! I couldn’t be enjoying my nomadpreneur freedom here on Saipan without customers. Customers are the lifeblood of business. Customers determine what I sell, and offer me the feedback that lets me know I’m living my life on purpose. Customers are great! Okay?
Ahem. With that said, however, I’ve also learned that sometimes customers are craaaaazy!! And, I say that with all the love and compassion I can muster. Let me give you some examples of some of my online customers' funny behavior. (And by funny, I mean “strange” funny, not “ha-ha” funny!)
Right before I escaped to Saipan, I started a website called www.FreeSummerConcerts.com which lists, as the name might imply, all the free concerts in New York City for the summer.
Now, the word “free” is mentioned 23 times on the site, 11 more times on the "Thank you" page, 8 more times in the confirmation email, 4 more times on the confirmation screen after you confirm, and another 8 or 10 times in the welcome email! Not only that, the second line of text on the website reads: “For 6 years, our FREE service has been YOUR resource for New York's Summer of Free Music, Dance and Spoken Word events!”
Of course, being the maven of customer service that I am, I politely replied, “Yes, “Mary,” it’s absolutely free!” refraining from any mention of, or calling into question Mary's reading comprehension abilities.
A few weeks ago, another website visitor, “Frank,” purchased a paperback copy of my book, Turn Your Passion Into Profit, from my website. Now, even before the order was successfully placed, Frank had experienced difficulty using the log-in feature of the shopping cart when first attempting to purchase, so I had to interact with him personally once via phone, and again via email, just before his purchase. So, when I saw that his order had successfully completed, I sent him another personal email congratulating him, and telling him we’d process the order right away.
glad that my order finally went through but please give me something a little more specific than we'll get on it right away. when can I expect my book to go out and how will it be shipped? Looking forward to your response being as timely as your advertising since you've already collected my money.
Just a few minutes later, Frank sent another email
Walt.....Just noticed an extra $5 fee added to the cost of my book that was not there when I placed my order. I'm going to trust that you will get back to me quickly on this as I'm starting to get a not so good feeling about this whole transaction. And please again....what does "at the first possible opportunity" mean when referring to my shipping date? Any chance of undoing this whole thing? Frank
I sent a polite and understanding email to Frank and explained what a shipping charge was, assured him that it had been there quite visible during the checkout process (which he could check on his own), referred to my almost 20-year untarnished business history without complaint or blemish from the Better Business Bureau, and letting him know that his order had already shipped, but that I could refund his money at any time if he so chose. Frank apparently received the assurance he required, and I haven't heard from him since. This was about two weeks ago.
But, here’s what stands out to me as unusual about this whole exchange. From the very beginning, Frank was receiving personalized attention from me (99% of my customers complete their book orders without speaking directly with the author of the book!), but still had doubts in his mind about the legitimacy of the process
The $5 shipping charge is clearly itemized throughout the checkout process. I can’t recall anyone in the 18 years I’ve been selling via mail order, or the 10 years I’ve been selling online, who has questioned a “mysteriously appearing” shipping charge. I wanted to ask Frank what planet he’d been living on, but decided to be nice.
Frank still felt “buyer’s remorse” and wanted to cancel his order, even though he had had the unusual experience of speaking with a live person through the entire process!
It wouldn’t surprise me if, later, Frank asks for a refund. (I think Frank has trust issues that have nothing to do with me.)
These are just two of the recent examples of the funny things that customers do!
Anyway, on a serious note, the point is this: In all my years doing business online, I’ve learned a few things about internet customer human nature that help me continue to make sales, create good karma, and grow my businesses as well as those of my clients. Here are just a few that may help you with your online venture:
Stay tuned for these and other puzzling and perplexing tales of customer behavior from the Walt Vault!
Note: Fans and followers of the books, Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan may order on Amazon.com
Note: Ever wanted to direct your friends and family to a set of websites that revealed the best things about Saipan? Do what I do: send them to www.bestofsaipan.com!
Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!--Walt
Send article suggestions, entrepreneur nominations and feedback about this article to firstname.lastname@example.org. Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of 16 books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several successful businesses in the US, and now makes his home here on Saipan. To learn more, visit www.passionprofit.com and follow Walt on Twitter (waltonsaipan)
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WHERE IS SAIPAN?
Located in the western pacific, a short flight from Guam and 3 hours from Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a popular tourist destination rich in history, culture and natural resources. Saipan, just 5 miles wide by 12 miles long, is the largest and most populated of the 14 islands making up an archipelago that stretches 400 miles (north to south) along the edge of the Marianas Trench.
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"hi Walt, I am very impressed. I never thought of early retiring there until seeing this website. I am interested in finding out more.-- Jim W (from the early-retirement.org forum about welovesaipan.com)
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