Shot Show is Huge! I walked several floors yesterday, and am truly amazed. I am embarrassed to say that I spent over two hours looking for the Vortex Optics booths, but to no avail. Today or tomorrow I just might try again. The Show Show experience is great, and I am having fun.
Those of you that know me, know how passionate I am about providing excellent customer service. Most of the following has to do with customer service more than actual product quality. So, here is my report on Shot Show 2016 Fails & Wins – Customer Service!
FAIL means that I did not receive EXCELLENT customer service. Perhaps it was poor, fair or even good, but not excellent. WIN means that the service was impressive, that I felt welcome and am likely, just from that experience, to become a big fan, ambassador and user of a product and will recommend it to clients.
Shot Show 2016 Fails & Wins – Customer Service
FAIL: There was an official app this year to help attendees, but it crashed frequently. When I downloaded and tested the app, I noticed a feature that would help one find a specific booth, but when I needed it I could not find the button to make it work. It is NOT one of the below, but when the booth you have selected is up on your screen, there is an icon on the left that somewhat resembles a road sign that will give directions. I will try it today. The idea of the app was great, but because the whole experience is so overwhelming, it would be nice to have a user-friendly navigation option.
WIN: Something that I learned from this year’s Shot Show, is how important customer service is. A few of the booths have wonderful people, for example a gentleman at the Spyderco booth. He was knowledgeable, and was happy to assist me. While he was bringing knives from the display to the counter that fit what I asked for, one of his associates who overheard my specs silently assisted the first guy. Great job Spyderco! Oh yeah, and I love your Karahawk!
FAIL: LWRC is an incredible company! I have been treated very well by their service department, as I have mentioned in previous blog posts. Yesterday, I visited their booth because I have a client through our Firearms Purchase Consultation Service. I found a young man willing to break away from his huddle with his co-workers and described my clients needs. He showed he the carbine that fit the bill. He was not happy or cheerful. Why does this matter? As a gun person, should I not be a tough guy that doesn’t care about customer service? I don’t think so.
Because of my excellent experience with the repair department, I had absolutely planned to buy an LWRC for my above mentioned client. He did not care how expensive the gun was, he simply told me to get him a semi-auto rifle for shooting varmints out to 400 yards. Because of the way I was not “valued” yesterday, I will keep my eyes open for the rest of the week for a gun manufacturer that really wants my business.
So, what are some practical customer service tips for what the young man might have done? When I described the specs I needed, he should have complimented me, ‘That sounds like a great setup you are getting him! Your client would love this one…” When I mentioned that I had shot two barrels out on my LWRC, he should have said, “Wow, you must do a lot of shooting, which model do you currently have?” I would have swelled with pride and responded, “Yep, we shoot our M6 a lot in our business.” He should then said how good their repair department is, thanked me for having an LWRC, and then should have asked what our business was, and I would have bragged about it. He should have “loved it” and made me feel important.
Now, having established rapport, he should have directed me to the same gun that he actually did, comparing features of the M6 to the new one he was recommending. He should have offered me his business card, and offered to hold it up to his face for me to photograph with my smart phone to “put a face with the name.” He should have said, “When (not if) you have more questions, please shoot me an email, and if nothing in the meantime, I cant wait to hear how your client likes the new gun!”
FAIL – STI booth. OK, I remain a HUGE fan of their guns, and will continue owning them because they are awesome. whereas LWRC’s service was “FAIR” at best, STI’s was GOOD. I described to the young man what my specs were for a client for whom I had recently purchased an STI 1911 TargetMaster, and that wanted another with a shorter barrel, but otherwise identical. The young man was not sure if they had anything, but was kind, flustered and was trying to do a good job.
He walked away to find an answer for me and I got to chat about Jackson Hole with another customer service “slick salesman” for a few minutes, and when he finished talking and moved on to other customers, I waited for my young helper. I noticed him texting in the background, and assumed he was finding an answer for me. He came back tot he counter and started helping someone else. When he was finished with them, I called for him, and he had forgotten about me. He ended up recommending the Lawman 4.0 and we were done. He was not allowed to arrange for the purchase because of being from a different region than me, but gave me the card of a guy that was either my guy or could direct me to the right person. Did he form a bond with me and make me a lifetime loyal STI supporter? Nope. The gal at the STI booth at Industry Day was great though!
WIN – Smith & Wesson at Industry Day had excellent range safety! Some booths were sloppy with safety, but not Smith & Wesson. While I am still frustrated with them for their diminished quality and failure to stand behind their products (learn more here), they redeemed themselves in my eyes to a degree because of their tight control of safety. While filming one of my partners shooting in their booth, I did not feel in any danger. Way to go S&W!
FAIL & WIN – State of the Industry Address at dinner on the night of 1-19-16 was great in some respects but not in others. There was an assumption that everyone in the room was a registered Republican, or should be one. This was a dangerous assumption. I appreciate that many folks in our industry think that “voting harder” is the way to get what we want from those that rule us, but not everyone in the crowd agrees with this mainstream and simplistic world view. The chairman had every right to state his opinion, however I was “put off” by it.
My approach to sharing shooting with folks is very different. I choose to reach out with an open mind and heart to all kinds of folks from many political corners of the chart. If Hillary Clinton spent an afternoon shooting and chatting with me, she would walk away with a altered world view, as might I. To alienate a third of the population (leftists) with “tough talk” is not, IMO, worth revving up those already in the choir. The crowd was primarily Conservative, libertarian and anarcho-capitalist so bashing Hillary and mentioning Hillary’s name repeatedly in a negative light was in factual agreement with most of the audience, but there were certainly a few “other” folks at the event that were turned off. Yes, people that want to take away defensive tools from other people suck. I get it, but we in the gun industry need to step up our game from 1940’s political tactics.
Furthermore, the top dogs in the NSSF really ought to self-promote more. Everyone knows Wayne LaPierr’s name but even Shot Show attendees, if asked to write down the name of even one of the top 3 spokespeople for the NSSF, would not be able to do so. Hiring a good PR consultant would be very wise for the NSSF.
WIN – Food & beverage service at the Shot Show 2016 State of the industry dinner was excellent! The food was not impressive, but for rubber chicken was OK.
WIN – My critical eye for stuff. 😉 I know the above might appear “haughty” and negative in tone. It is my belief that the best course of action for the firearms industry is to make ourselves great! We must serve each other and our outside clients with absolute excellence. We must be willing to work 80+ hour weeks, smile and be cheerful when tired and we must “know our stuff.”