‘Better’ Pays Dividends: You Better Be Better Online and In Your Store

Wayne Williams
Posted on March 10, 2017

We’ve all heard it said, “Bigger is better,” or, “Faster is better.” But really, only better is better.

Being better is easy; however, being consistently better is harder.

We’ve all experienced service from the big box stores, Best Buy, Home Depot, Sears, Walgreens. A big box store can deliver fast service, good prices and convenience. But personal service? That’s harder. Everything I read indicates the customer’s experience is more important than ever, and right along with the experience is a desire for improved levels of personalization. You might say, “Are you kidding me? People want personalized service when buying a gallon of paint or a gallon of milk, a garden hose or eye makeup?” Well, sorry, but yes, they do, and tires and service is no different.

All the articles I read about retail relevancy talk about the customer experience. In every article, there is some strong correlation between personalization and overall experience. Let me share an experience.

Again, this year, effective Jan. 1, 2017, new laws went into effect in California. Now, this year, a driver is no longer allowed to touch their phone while driving. Yikes! My lovely wife decided that a wireless headset would be a good gift for me; it would help me keep my hands off my phone while driving. I’m a bit particular about things like that, so we went shopping together.

Having not bought a headset recently, we walked into a very busy Best Buy near our home close to Christmas. I flagged down a sales person, and she did better than just direct us, she led my wife and me to the correct aisle across the big busy store.

That’s not all. In a bubbly voice, she indicated she was not able to help us because she knew nothing about headphones. So guess what she did. Walk away? No. She found another sales person, flagged him down, introduced him to us, and better yet, told him what we were looking for (she must have been listening).

What happened next was even better. The new associate then actually asked me a few questions about my planned usage. He asked questions that I had not considered. After I answered his questions, he made a clear recommendation. He knew headphones better than I, and he won my trust and confidence with just a few questions.

When purchasing headphones, the store associate asked me a few questions about my planned usage — and other questions I had not considered — before he made his recommendation.
When purchasing headphones, the store associate asked me a few questions about my planned usage — and other questions I had not considered — before he made his recommendation.
As if that wasn’t enough, he opened the box and demonstrated exactly why he recommended this particular model. Boom! Better and better and better. My wife was happy for a number of reasons: One, another gift was off her list; two, I was happy; and three, there was a Starbucks drive-thru in the parking lot. I haven’t always experienced this type of service at Best Buy, but I must say, this was a better experience, and better matters.

As I have mentioned before, I read a lot and read a recent article in MTD written by Greg Smith about Bridgestone’s dealer meeting in Los Angeles. The article explained their commitment to “the boss,” the “customer.” In the article, he made reference to shoppers who research first online. It was the highest number I’ve ever seen printed, and I believe it’s totally accurate. Bridgestone stated that 80% of tire buyers research online first.  Eighty percent!

This leads me to my second better point. You better be better online! You better have a better website. I’m not talking about simple changes or a lower-priced oil change. I’m not talking about another manufacturer’s $70 rebate squeezed onto your homepage, or a credit card offer. I’m talking about a real compelling reason for a consumer to call or visit your location.

I want to suggest that there are only three types of websites: dumb-ass, half-ass or bad-ass. Yours is one of the three. Nobody goes onto a dumb-ass website and says, “This is probably a bad-ass tire company. They just haven’t gotten around to fixing their website.” Bottom line, your website is your first impression, and you know what they say about first impressions. You must be better online and in-store, period.

Better matters. Only better is better. Better is more than fast, convenient, low prices, etc. In our industry, we’ve talked for years about a clean rest room. Please! We have to be better than that. Everything has to be better. Better is defined as “more excellent, quality, to improve or surpass.” All retailers, big box and independents, must get better, then better again... never-ending “betterness”!

Next month we’ll talk more about digital relevancy and the details of a good website. Until then, let’s get better!    ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at

To read more Counter Intelligence columns, see:

Influence: How to Use Your Power for the Good of the Customer

Building Trust Through Engagement Skills

Selling + Serving = Retailing: Create Confidence and Build Enthusiasm to Make Sales

There Are Only Two Problems You Can Have in a Tire Store

Beware of Routing Dullness: Invest $25 and a Little Time in You and Your Career

Related Topics: Counter Intelligence, Sales training, Wayne Williams

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