The Misinformation Age
By:  Ray T. Bohacz

 

Only a few years back the technology segment was the driving force for the stock market. Upstart computer based businesses would bring forward an IPO (initial public offering) and people would almost be fist fighting to give them their hard earned cash for the possibility of making a huge profit on their investment. It made no difference that the enterprise had nothing of tangible worth to back up its claims. That was irrelevant. During that time which is now known in the financial world as the "tech bubble", a mindset of, "clicks are better than bricks" was established. I never prescribed to that school of thought and will take substance over empty promises everyday of the week. 

Concurrent with the push forward of the so called information age an interesting thing happened in our society. It seemed as if the story line of the book 1984 was in some part being played out in the early days of the 21st century. The computer was thought to be able to replace a knowledgeable human being. The model that was and still is prevalent in the business community is to spend a lot of money on flash (be it a building or a fancy catalog), install an advanced computer system and then have it manned by a low cost employee that knows nothing at all about their job or the product or service they are trying to sell or support. They simply read what the computer screen says like a Washington politician in front of a teleprompter. If you ask them a simple question they go back to the beginning and reread the same words that did not apply to you when they were recited the first time. At this point if you are anything like me, you either decide to save your money and not purchase the product or if it is a customer service issue, hang up in frustration and vow to never spend a nickel with the concern again. Over the years this has saved me quite a bit of money. I have scratched so many businesses off my shopping list that I single handily may have been the catalyst for the recession. 

The other phenomena has nothing to do with computers but affects the way business is transacted, especially in a field that requires some interaction with the consumer. The automobile business, both mainstream and the hobby, has been greatly affected by this.  

When I was growing up, a merchant was a person that usually was knowledgeable about their product and though not always the case, was enthusiastic about it. Customer service, product knowledge and a buying experience that made you feel good about handing over your money was the norm not the exception. Today it is the  exception instead of the norm. With the economic conditions that are facing the business climate a good many companies would be wise to examine and institute the old fashioned customer practices and interaction.

 I find it very disenchanting when I know more about the product than the person selling it to me, especially when the information I am spewing is from the company's catalog. It then becomes very obvious that the sales/technical person has never read the company literature or if they did, nothing stuck in their gray matter. Then instead of being embarrassed or apologetic that you know more about the item then they do, they usually get nasty or curt. That is really the way to win my business! So as a service to the performance parts industry I offer the following free advice that I have garnered from years of dealing with sales, marketing and technical departments.

 It is common knowledge that business is not what it used to be but there are still people spending money. The trick is to get them to spend it with your company. I am in a unique position since I am both a consumer of the products and services and part of the industry as a writer. My experiences are being mirrored by your other customers.

 When I am buying car parts I want to deal with someone (either over a sales counter or on the telephone) that has an interest in  the industry. They do not need to be passionate about the brand that I favor but they do need to be part of the hobby in some way. If I ask you a question and you do not know the answer, that is fine. Do not lie to me, make up a response on the fly or tell me that the part/idea will not work just to get rid of me. If I need to stay on the phone or wait until you can find out, that is all right. I do not expect everyone to know everything about cars or the modification that I want to make. If I ask where the product is made and state that I buy American do not come back with a rhetorical question such as, "Where is your TV made?". I am asking a legitimate question and not querying your thoughts on the subject. Provide my answer and then shut up. When and if I have a problem or concern with the product after a purchase do not imply that I am an idiot and do not know what I am doing. Do your best to work with me and resolve the issue. I did not come in asking for my money back but instead I am informing you of a concern. When and if you supply the wrong part please do not tell me that the computer says that my car has one with four bolts when the item I took off and is in my hand has three bolts. Obviously your computer is wrong. My car has been running for years with the part you and your computer claim will not fit. When I am waiting on the telephone on hold do not have a message that tells me how important I am to only be greeted by a disgruntled salesperson. If you cared so much about me you would not have hired them. At the end of the transaction thank me for my purchase with genuine sincerity. Your job depends on me opening my wallet with your employer.

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