Don’t be a Grudge Buy

Grudge Buy – There are businesses that people enjoy experiencing like a visit to Starbucks, a weekend at The Ritz Carlton, shopping at Nordstrom, or a visit to the Spa. Then there are businesses that Customers dread, wish to avoid, and it frustrates them that they need to waste their hard-earned money there. These are called grudge buys. A grudge buy is something we need or must do, but is the last thing we want to do with our time or money. Grudge buys can be going to the dentist, paying for car insurance, needing new tires, calling for technical support or dealing with your attorney. Businesses that offer grudge buy services and products start off with a distinct disadvantage, versus a spa experience that is pleasurable. However, in many cases there is an advantage to this grudge buy perception. The consumer’s expectation for an enjoyable experience is typically very low. Also, the Customer is at a point of vulnerability, i.e. flat tire, illness. Nothing creates a stronger bond and loyalty than when someone comes to the rescue when another person is in a vulnerable position.

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Truck driver’s grudge buy – Often a truck driver does not want to have to come to the truck repair center of TravelCenters of America. If they do, that means something is wrong with their truck, which means their day is on the brink of disaster. TA has created an incredible training video titled, A Day in the Life of a Driver. It depicted a typical day for a driver who has not been home or seen his family for an extended period of time. It shows all the demands he has personally and professionally. His goal is to make it home for his son’s basketball game that evening. He hasn’t seen his son play, and his son wants him at this game. He finds out that more and more drivers he works with are being laid off, which makes him concerned for his job. He finally makes all his stops and is headed home to see his son’s game. Just then, one of his tires blows and he shouts, “Not now, not a tire!” And you hear his son’s voice saying, “You’ve got to make it home tonight. You have to see me play!” You realize he probably isn’t going to see his son’s game as a result of his flat tire. The last thing you see is the driver pulling into a TravelCenters of America truck-repair location. It is gripping. That is how a day-in-the-life-of-a-Customer video should end-like a cliffhanger. What happens next? Hopefully, the right employee, who got to see this driver’s day unfold, will be saying to his or her coworkers, “I got this one, I got this next driver coming in.” They are going to be determined to help him get back on the road and home in time. In the case of TravelCenters, that is every driver’s situation. No matter what they have going on in their life, no one wants to have a truck break down and be late for the rest of the stops and have to work much later than planned. So it is realistic that nearly every driver walking in has that similar state of mind.

*Related – A Day in the life of a Customer video

Who is going to wear the Cape? TA needs its employees to empathize. Every one of the four thousand TravelCenter truck-service employees has seen the video, and every new hire watches it. It has had a major impact on how TA employees handle Customers. Employees no longer take a driver’s frustration personally, and they realize that they have a unique opportunity to be a hero to nearly every Customer who comes in. Every one of their Customers is in need of help, someone to come to their rescue, saving the day. How many of us have the opportunity to be a hero to our Customers? TravelCenters has repositioned the employees’ mind-set to, “How can I be a hero today?” Who is going to put on the Superman cape and come to the rescue?

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Captain QFORCE – One of the highest awards you can win at TA’s annual awards gathering is the Captain QFORCE bobble head, which goes to the employees who truly demonstrate the spirit of coming to the rescue for their Customers on a regular basis. “The video had a major emotional impact on our front-line employees and managers. It really sensitized them and changed their perception and stereotypes of our Customer, the over-the-road professional truck driver,” says Ara Bagdasarian, executive vice president of truck services. “It put them emotionally in the shoes of our driver and made them realize how hard their job is and that they are fathers and mothers with family challenges just like them. Nearly all employees, including former drivers, had a tear in their eye after viewing this, and our service levels began to improve almost immediately.” Not only has TA’s employee Service Aptitude gone up dramatically, so has Travel-Center’s driver-satisfaction score, employee morale, and sales; and they cannot keep up with all the Customer (driver) praise of “above and beyond” stories that continue to come in.

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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.