Do Pro Shops have to follow the old credo “the customers always right”? No! Especially if they want to be successful have and live a long and happy life.
As pro shop operators we deal with people of all ages, incomes, ethnic backgrounds and all with varying skill levels. We need to be good listeners and at times posses the patience of a monk. Customers can all have different needs and desires when they visit their favorite local shop and our responsibility is to satisfy these wishes. I’m most of you already understand this part of the business and realize this one on one customer contact is where most of the business stress comes from. It’s not that the customer wants to create this stress; it is just a natural byproduct of personal contact.
How we handle day to day challenges and stress has a direct influence on our ability to get through each day and have each customer leave with a smile on their face. We need to learn how to relate intimately with this plethora of personalities and make them realize we truly care about their wellbeing and future bowling successes.
So what do we do when the either new or established customer comes in and says something which is truly inaccurate? Let’s say a new customer comes in to purchase a ball he’s researched online. He’s willing to buy a $200+ ball from us, which we all prefer, but he’s chosen a ball which we know will not perform the way he thinks. For example: He’s want a ball which goes long and strong for heavy oil. He feels one of the pretty and shiny pearl reactive will be the ball of his dreams. He’s read the ball reviews on line and is impressed with the backend reactive many rave about. After asking him a few key questions such as his ball speed (which is 18 mph) approximate rev rate (low) and finding his axis point of 4” by 1” up, we explain to him that his choice will not work properly. We confidently explain to him that a polished pearl reactive with his physical game will not read the pattern soon enough to display the big back end he expects. Now the kicker: He now feels as though our choice of a solid reactive or particle will not provide the angular motion he’s read about online. He has done his research and is not totally unsave, but he has not factored in his personal game into the equation. He is so dead wrong in his assumption of what balls actually do in oil and in friction he can’t and won’t change his mind.
So my question to you is do we allow him to choose an incorrect product and let him learn the hard way? Do we explain to him that the responsibility is on his shoulders if he is unsatisfied after paying us $250?
Or do we suggest the correct product and hope the information about his game he’s given us is accurate and drill him a better choice? We know the apparent risks. He could be totally disappointed with our suggestion and come back and demand the ball he originally asked for. Would we be required to replace the ball, especially after we talked him in to our choice? And what if his game truly was weak and there would be little difference in any choice either he or we would make? And if we drilled him the pearl reactive and he returned very disgruntled, then what? Did we really use our expertise and have concern for his happiness?
This customer was wrong in his assumption about a particular ball reaction product choice. We all know this, but how should we handle this or other situations when we know 100% the customer is wrong?
My 34+ years of pro shop experience have taught me Honesty is still the best policy. I would explain the ball reviews online may have been accurate for that particular bowler on that lane condition on that day, period. I would also enlighten him how coverstocks of today respond differently in oil and off friction. I would explain how ball speed, rev rate, axis rotation and tilt can all create different looks for different people on the same lane condition. I would convey the variances in lane hardness and oil patterns and how one ball can look great one day and not the next. Then I would show him how surface adjustments can alter a balls hook and motion to better match the individual and pattern. Lastly I would stress the importance of practice and the value of using a coach/teacher to help improve one’s skills.
The customer is not always right. It’s our responsibility to bring the consumers misinformation out in the open and enlighten them to what we believe to be accurate and helpful. The consumer will appreciate this honesty and knowledge in the long run and surely return year after year.
Other examples of the customer always being right….not!
Customer: “I want my ball sanded for more back end hook”.
Pro Shop: We must explain to them how sanding the shell will create more friction earlier on the lane. Now if the ball is going too long, sanding will be beneficial so the ball can read the pattern sooner. If the ball is already reading too soon, polishing the surface will lessen the friction through the oil thus conserving more energy for a later and sharper breakpoint. We can also explain there are varying degrees of sandings and polishings. We also should stress the importance of regular cleaning and oil removal. The more knowledge the consumer has the more likely he will be willing to experiment and not just blame the ball or us for drilling it wrong.
Customer: “My thumb needs to be made bigger because it sticks sometimes”.
Pro Shop: We need to make sure the hole is the correct size, pitch and that the ball has the correct span. All too often the hole is already too big and the consumer is actually over-gripping which causes the occasional hang and/or drop. In correct pitches and spans will also contribute to an inconsistent release or release problems. If everything looks good except a loose thumb we can show them how to use bowlers tape to lessen their grip pressure. Once they learn to grip very lightly their release will surely improve as can their scores. The higher they score the more likely they continue bowling which in turn can lead to future sales.
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