Before a plane ride, if I am out of books to read, I run to B&N. The last two trips have been a waste of time. One trip the sales clerk asked me what I was looking for, but they were out of stock on two of the books, but offered to order it online for me. Lately sales is about "Is it in stock, because I want it now."
This weekend I decided to buy a Roku. I should have just either ordered it at Roku.com or Amazon. But No. I like to buy from brick-and-mortar of I can. I try to buy from Sears when I can because they support the military so much. Sears doesn't make it easy to give them money. Their website is horrible. The only Roku I found was from some third party supplier. I wanted to buy it and pick it up at the store. Not possible.
I remembered that Radio Shack had them in stock, so I surfed over to RadioShack.com. The local store had inventory. I clicked on ship to store, which I thought meant store pick-up. Wrong! I paid for it online, printed out the receipt and went to the store. The clerk said and the FB CSR wrote, "Peter- We are sorry to hear this. Since our .com is separate from an actual RadioShack store, if you made a purchase from our RadioShack.com website, and decide to later purchase the item at the store, you would have to either wait until the item is shipped to the store, or cancel the order and purchase the item from the store."
Well, you can't cancel orders online according to the website (when you check order status): "After you have clicked "Send My Order," your order begins to process and you cannot cancel or change your order.*" Apparently, I didn't know that nor did the Facebook CSR nor the store clerk.
ON FB, "Unfortunately, our inventory systems are not fully integrated at this time, which makes it a bit difficult. It's actually something that we're actively working on, to avoid giving customers frustrating experiences like the one you described. -Ricky" Not solving my issue or anything, just explaining that I ordered wrong.
This is why Amazon is beating everyone - Best Buy, B&N, Radio Shack, everyone. One click. BOOM! it's done. Great communication. You know when it shipped, when it is likely to arrive. If you buy from Amazon as a Prime member you can get it in 2 days for free.
Lesson 1: Communication is key to everything in sales. The web allows for great explanation via pages, videos, email, tweets, etc. Use that limitless, free space to explain clearly what is being bought and how. Customer Expectations is integral to customer satisfaction.
Lesson 2: Don't explain policy! Solve the customer issue! You cannot retain a customer by quoting policy.
I want to buy from you. You are parroting policy to me over and over -- and twice the action suggested (cancel it) was wrong. Help me give you money so I can have my Roku.
Lesson 3: Make It Easy to Buy from you. It should be as easy as Amazon, but I understand why it might not be that easy.
By setting up proper customer expectations with clear communications, you won't have to explain policy to a customer. Instead you will have let the customer know exactly how the sales and delivery will proceed, so that both of you get what you want.